We don’t know why people make such a fuss about the eyes being a window to your soul when it is painfully clear to us that your smile says way more about you as a person. Clean, straight, white teeth are the first qualities to telegraph that you have been: a. gifted with great genes b. gifted with a big wallet and veneers or, c. you are a healthy practitioner of good hygiene. As avid supporters of the most attainable option “c,” we took a little skydive with the tooth fairy and this is what we have learned about how to care for our grown-up teeth.
Tooth enamel normally thins with age, so dentin—the hard tissue under the enamel, which can be gray, brown, or blue in tone—may begin to show through. A long-ago tooth injury or early use of tetracycline can also contribute to the darkening of teeth and no amount of teeth whitening, in or out of the dental chair, can wholly eliminate this damage, but routine cleaning and the now improved home-whitening protocols can really change the color of our teeth, even if we enjoy a daily dose of espresso and cabernet.
Lori Golden, a practicing dental hygienist in the Riverdale, NY office of Dr. Susan Siegel for 43 years, knows a thing or three about dental health. We spoke to “Nurse” Lori about the best whitening treatments and her response is hopeful. “The most effective and easiest to use at-home treatment is by GloScience ,the initial cost is a bit high but the results are terrific and far better and faster than those older custom trays .” The science of Glo Science combines the usual hit of a brightening light with heat and it seems to pack a punch without that awful post-treatment sensitivity. Glo Science is offered as a “one and done” stronger treatment in your Dentist’s office or you can buy the ,less costly, at-home kit to use five days in a row. Either way you choose the results are terrific, with the most dramatic whitening taking place in the dental chair.
Golden’s next tooth-pick (sic) is by Venus White Ultra because they cling nicely to the teeth, but counsels , “ to see real results, you must use this for seven consecutive days and you must use a straw for coffee and colas and no red wine during treatment.” We like the Crest Whitestrips Express version and have found no tooth sensitivity from these little sometimes hard to handle sticky gels for your teeth. You will see the greatest lightening effect on teeth that have just been cleaned, so consider taking on the job after you’ve had a thorough professional cleaning, something everyone should do at least twice a year.
How you care for your newly pearly whites hasn’t changed too much but there are some added tools to make the job a bit easier. Brush and floss, daily, and as Golden says, “ Soft pics might be the best invention of the 21stCentury. Floss removes plaque but gum pics take the added step to stimulate the gums and prevent recession.” We love these pro pics and keep them with us all the time. They are oddly fun to use and the little “squeaky-clean” sound effect is so satisfying.
“There isn’t anything wrong with brushing your teeth the old fashioned way as long as you take the time to brush each tooth and you are careful not to erode your gums,” Golden says in her firm but emphatic nurse voice “remember you are not scrubbing the kitchen floor – these are your teeth!” The newer electric toothbrushes now have integrated timers to police you at the sink and they do claim to employ 31,000 brush strokes per minute, which helps with plaque removal between teeth and along the gum line. We like the rechargeable one from Sonicare .
If you haven’t yet tried charcoal toothpaste, you might want to. No amount of any kind of toothpaste will whiten your teeth but they can treat surface stains. The entertainment factor of charcoal is high but so is the clean mouth feeling you get after turning your sink into a black foamy mess.
”We want to keep teeth clean and gums tight and healthy,” says Golden, which sounds a lot like other areas of our bodies. Our very own tooth whisperer also says “no one wants to kiss a person with ugly teeth.” She might be working with a more critical and professional eye, but she’s probably right.
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