Your smile creates an immediate, subconscious, visual impact on the people you encounter. A brighter smile exudes an impression of youth, vitality, radiant health, happiness, and warmth. According to an survey, 99.7 percent of adults think a gleaming smile is an important social asset. Some 96 percent believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. About 74 percent of adults feel an unpleasant smile can hurt a person’s chance for career success. Studies show that a brilliant smile can help people succeed in any profession. The most common way respondents wanted to improve their smiles was with whiter, brighter teeth. Possible Tooth Discoloration Causes Deciduous (baby) teeth are whiter typically than the permanent teeth that appear later. As you age, your adult teeth become darker or yellower and retain stains more often. This is partly why white teeth make people appear more youthful. Genetics and certain foods can cause your teeth to darken over time. Enamel and dentin changes, developmental disorders, tooth decay, restorations, root canal issues, and trauma are responsible for internal tooth discoloration. Foods and tobacco are the main external tooth discoloration culprits. The major causes of external tooth yellowing are smoking, foods with tannins, carrots, oranges, coffee, and tea. The Smile Revolution When peroxide-based teeth whitening gained popularity in the early 1990s, the only option was custom-made bleaching tray treatments available just at dental offices. These early whiteners set off a sparkling smile revolution. Today, a multitude of over-the-counter (OTC) whitening options is available to suit every budget and objective. So now, even ordinary adults can afford to get that much-desired dazzling Hollywood smile. Whitening Precautions You may have heard that people under 30 shouldn’t undergo whitening treatment. The London Smile Clinic’s Tim Bradstock-Smith advises waiting until adulthood when all of your permanent teeth have come in before attempting whitening. Teens are far more likely to have teeth that haven’t emerged fully yet. In a few cases, some of their first teeth may remain. People in their 20s, however, are suitable candidates for whitening. Porcelain or composite dental crowns and bondings won’t lighten. So changing the color of surrounding teeth may cause an uneven smile. See Your Dentist First Dentists recommend having a complete dental exam with x-rays before attempting any whitening treatment. Unless you know what’s causing the darkening, you can’t be sure if an underlying issue like a root-canal problem needs treatment. Bleaching a diseased tooth is like painting over a rusty car. It camouflages the problem but doesn’t fix it. Correcting any problems before whitening your teeth is safer for your mouth. The Ultimate Do-it-Yourself Project If you’re not happy with your smile, at-home teeth whitening is a good first step to improve your appearance. It’s one of the most economical ways to create a beautiful smile that can boost your self-esteem and confidence. According to multiple clinical trials, whitening treatments that eliminate discoloration and stains on teeth are safe. These procedures also brighten your teeth’s natural pigmentation. Save money by ordering over-the-counter teeth-whitening products online. For the best results, follow these application tips. Treatment timing: The best time to begin at-home whitening is soon after a dental hygienist’s prophylactic cleaning. This process removes the surface layer of plaque and grime that can interfere with getting the most from treatment. Cleanliness: Dentists and oral care companies urge brushing and flossing your teeth just prior to any kind of at-home or on-the-go whitening. Protocol: Follow the package directions and/or your dentist’s personalized instructions. Afterward: Don’t consume food or beverages (especially sports drinks and other acidic beverages) except water for a couple of hours after each whitening treatment to prolong the brightening effects. At-Home Treatment AdvantagesLong-term results: Repeated use of at-home products, preferably every four to six months, can maintain your whitened teeth. Many dentists advise patients with very dark stained teeth to continue home treatments over a period of months or up to a year for optimal results. Variety: A wide array of product types is available for at-home use today. Convenience: You can do home whitening at any time of the day or night for short or extended periods. Portability: Use OTC whitening strips while on the go or at the office. Costs: Over-the-counter whiteners range from $4 to $100 while dentist-dispensed products cost approximately $400, and in-office whitening runs an average of $650 per session. Improvement Expectations The nature and severity of your discoloration will determine your after treatment. When your teeth become a dull brown or yellow due to coffee, tea, or smoking, stains will lighten four to five shades generally. Teeth that appear gray due to natural pigmentation will lighten two to three shades typically. Either way, your teeth will be noticeably brighter after whitening. Important After-Care Steps Practice good oral health habits every day. Be diligent about brushing with a whitening toothpaste, flossing, and using mouthwash. Also keep up with routine check-ups and cleanings if you want to preserve your enhanced smile’s long-lasting results. Limit coffee, soft drinks, wine, and smoking to prevent discoloration and stains from recurring. Drinking through a straw may reduce your teeth’s exposure to harmful beverages. Finish all potentially damaging drinks at once instead of sipping on them throughout the day to minimize the staining process.