A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are sitting at their desks and are eating their healthy lunches.

Apples: Dental Hygiene Facts

We’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But apples may keep the dentist away too. Apples are a naturally sweet, low-calorie alternative to cavity-causing, sugary snacks like candy and fruit juice – plus they clean your teeth while you eat them! The next time your child is craving something sweet, try replacing soda or juice with some fresh apple slices!

Benefits of Apples

  • Apples make gums healthier. Apples contain about 15% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which helps keep your gums healthy. Without this vitamin, your gums become more vulnerable to infection, bleeding and gum disease. If you have periodontal disease, a lack of vitamin C increases bleeding and swelling.
  • Apples are nature’s toothbrush.  Chewing the fibrous texture of the fruit and its skin can stimulate your gums, reduce cavity-causing bacteria and increase saliva flow. Like other crisp, raw vegetables and fruits, apples can also gently remove plaque trapped between teeth.
  • Apples strengthen your bones. Apples have potassium. Potassium improves bone mineral density. Your teeth are made from bone. ‘Nuff said.
  • Apples help regulate weight. Loaded with soluble fiber, apples can help lower your cholesterol and improve your blood sugar regulation.
  • Apples fight heart disease. Although the research hasn’t proven it yet, there’s an apparent link between gum health and heart health. Periodontitis and heart disease share risk factors such as smoking, age and diabetes, and both contribute to inflammation in the body. Apples contain antioxidants that lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.

It’s never too early to talk to your children about their health. By helping them learn about nutrition, you are preparing them to make healthier decisions throughout their lives!

Is the acidity in apples bad for my child’s teeth?

According to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry, apples may be even more acidic than soda. But the negative effects of acidity in any foods you eat, like processed meats and coffee, can easily be prevented if you follow these tips:

  • Eat apples with another snack. Consider serving your child apple slices with a small serving of cheese, a glass of milk or crackers. Whatever you choose, other foods will help neutralize the acid in the apple – especially if they’re high in calcium.
  • Rinse with a glass of water. In general, it’s just a good idea to drink a glass of water or rinse after eating. Water helps rinse away acid and food particles that have collected between your teeth.
  • Wait to brush. Brushing immediately after eating any sugary food is not a good idea. The sugar will act like sandpaper and damage your tooth enamel. Have your kids wait at least 30 minutes after sugary snacks to brush.
Girl at the dentist holding and x-ray and looking at the camera smiling

5 Big Reasons To Choose a Children’s Dentist

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a great time to focus on kids!

Getting kids off to a good start with their oral health is what pediatric dentistry is all about. “A child’s attitudes and habits about caring for their teeth are established very early,” says Dr. Kim Hansford, a board-certified pediatric dentist. “A good experience with the dentist when they’re young can influence the way they take care of their oral health throughout their lives. The dental care they receive while they’re young can also prevent problems down the road, and set them up for healthy smiles for life.”

5 Big Reasons To Choose a Children’s Dentist for Your Little Ones

1. In addition to completing dental school, pediatric dentists must complete an advanced residency program in their specialty. The program is usually two to three years in length, and provides an in-depth education in the unique dental needs of babies, children and adolescents.

2. Training in pediatric dentistry also covers child psychology, growth and development, and caring for special needs patients. Kids’ dentists are well prepared to help anxious or frightened children feel at ease, and to provide a positive experience for them.

3. Children’s dentists know the importance of providing a fun and welcoming atmosphere for kids. As Dr. Kim explained, “Toys and videos can keep children occupied before their appointments and take their minds off anything that might be worrying them. Being around other children can bring kids an additional level of comfort. And we always send them home with a little reward, such as a toy or stickers.”

4. A children’s dental office will usually feature smaller chairs and dental equipment sized to fit little mouths. That can make a big difference to a child’s comfort. In addition, “During a child’s treatment,” said Dr. Kim, “we explain what the different tools do in an age-appropriate way. It helps ward off fears they may have.”

5. With a strong focus on preventive care, a children’s dentist can help ensure a lifetime of good dental health for your child. You can count on the dentist to stay up to date on preventive treatments that are especially important to kids, such as fluoride treatments and sealants. And, a kids’ dentist is an excellent source of advice and answers to questions about your child’s dental needs.

little girl child have toothache with red effect.

What to Do if Your Child Has a Toothache

Toothaches are common for young children. But as parents, we worry anytime our child is in pain. A child’s toothache can have many causes—tooth decay, plaque buildup, incoming teeth, cavities, broken teeth or food trapped between teeth—and sometimes what feels like a toothache might be just pain caused by something else entirely! So what do you do when your child has a toothache? Follow our 6 easy steps to identify the problem, help ease your child’s pain and get them the treatment they need.

Ask Questions

The first thing you want to do is try to find the cause of your child’s toothache. If they are old enough, ask them to point at or describe the pain. If they are younger, look for swelling, redness of gums and cheek, tooth discoloration or broken teeth. If you find a tooth that is loose, discolored or broken, you’ve likely found the cause.

Help Your Child Floss

Next you want to help your child remove any food particles that may be trapped between their teeth. Remember to be gentle and careful while flossing, because your child’s gums might be sensitive. If your child struggles with flossing or has braces, consider purchasing a Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids to make it easier.

Rinse with Warm Salt Water

Mix about a teaspoon of table salt into a small cup of warm water. Have your child rinse with the solution for about 30 seconds and spit. This will kill bacteria in or around the affected area and encourage faster healing.

Use a Cold Compress

Apply a cold compress to your child’s outer cheek near the painful or swollen area. If you do not have a store-bought compress, you can make one by wrapping ice in a small towel or cloth. Try icing for 15 minutes and taking another 15 minutes off.

Use Pain Medication or Clove Oil

If pain continues, your child can take anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Remember to make sure that any medicine you give your children is safe for them: Read the Drug Facts label every time, look for the active ingredient and give the right amount.

Under no circumstance should you rub aspirin or any painkiller on your child’s gums – it is very acidic and can cause burns. If you need a topical treatment, a home remedy that others have suggested is clove oil – an antimicrobial, anti-fungal essential oil that was used as far back as Ancient Greece. Gently dab clove oil with a cotton swab to the affected area around the tooth for temporary pain relief.

Call Your Child’s Dentist

Flossing, rinsing, icing and medicating are of probably not permanent solutions to the problem. If your child’s toothache is caused by a cavity, they’ll need to see a dentist for a filling, root canal or possibly an extraction. If your child is experiencing extreme pain, fatigue or fever, you’ll want to call your pediatrician immediately.

Children are at a greater risk for dental infections than adults. If your child’s toothache is not going away—especially if the toothache persists for over 24 hours—you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Even if your child’s pain goes away, there is still a chance they have a cavity which can develop into a painful abscess. If you have any doubts, please call us or schedule an appointment online.

 

Portrait of a young girl showing thumbs up while in the dentist chair

Keeping Your Family Safer with Dentapure

For over 35 years, our priority has been the health of you and your family. So as soon as we heard reports of children getting sick from the water at dental offices, we began working on a solution. As of today, we are proud to announce that the Dental Unit Waterlines at every Kid’s Dentistree office in Kentucky, Indiana and Georgia are being treated with DentaPure® Cartridges.

Why treat waterlines with DentaPure®?

Last year in Georgia, nine children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium abscessus infections after undergoing pulpotomies (root canals) at a common clinic. An investigation found that the outbreak was caused by contaminated water that introduced the bacterium during irrigation and drilling. We decided that it was in the best interest of our patients’ health to not only revisit our waterline cleaning procedures, but also seek a long-term solution. DentaPure is a safe, reliable and effective EPA-approved cartridge that attaches to dental waterlines to prevent biofilm buildup in Dental Unit Waterlines (DUWL’s). When untreated, or improperly maintained, the water flowing through these contaminated DUWL’s and out through the air/water syringe or high-speed handpieces can carry pieces of biofilm that have broken off the waterline wall — potentially harming your patients, your staff and your practice’s reputation. Learn more by watching the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7CYIycR2Qo&feature=youtu.be

 

National Children’s Dental Health Month

What better way to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month than ensuring the health and safety of your children? If you have any additional questions about DentaPure or improving your child’s dental health, feel free to ask any of our team members at your next visit! For more children’s dental health tips and tricks, check out our #NCDHM blog post here.

Portrait of a young serious flag football player.

Difference Between Night Guards and Mouth Guards

We’ve heard a few names for the plastic thing people wear to protect their teeth during physical activities or sleep. If you or your children are involved in contact sports, or if you ever feel jaw pain especially after sleep, we’ll clear up the differences between night guards and mouth guards for you. And we’ll help you decide which one you need.

 

What is a Night Guard?

An occlusal splint is commonly called a dental guard, night guard or bite guard. It is used to protect your teeth while you sleep. Most dentists recommend night guards to patients who grind their teeth, which is often as a result of stress or anxiety. When someone habitually grinds his or her teeth, it is called bruxism, a very common condition that affects 10% of people and as many as 15% of children. Grinding your teeth can ruin enamel, increase tooth sensitivity and chip your teeth. Too much grinding and clenching of the jaw can result in a condition of the jaw called TMJ, which can sometimes require surgery.

Close-up shot of doctors hands in gloves holding silicone mouth guard. Teeth care

Do you or your children ever wake up with jaw pain or think you might be grinding your teeth? Schedule a consultation with your dentist to discuss getting a custom-fit night guard. In just one visit, we can evaluate your grinding habits and take an impression of your smile. Some of our offices can even make your night guard in their own lab! In about 1-2 weeks, you’ll have your night guard and be sleeping easier.

What is a Mouth Guard?

A mouth guard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, lips and gums. The American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouth guard for many sports played in the fall and winter:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Field Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Ultimate Frisbee

Custom mouth guards are recommended over store-bought, and do more than just protect your teeth. According to one study, “high school football players wearing store-bought mouth guards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing properly fitted, custom mouth guards.” Ask your dentist to make a dental impression for you, which will be sent off to a lab that produces mouth guards or made in one of our office’s labs.

Photo sports mouth guard and medical capacitor on a white background

NDHM2016

National Dental Hygiene Month 2016

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. For the seventh straight year, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program (WOHP) are dedicating this month to starting the conversation about The Daily 4.

The Daily 4

The Daily 4 represent the foundation for a healthy smile. Teaching your kids about brushing, flossing, rinsing and chewing every day – also using proper technique – won’t guartantee perfect dental hygiene for the rest of their lives, but it will improve the color of their teeth, the way their breath smells, the health of their gums and have a significant impact on their overall health. Are you helping your kids do the Daily 4 correctly? Keep reading for tips on technique and frequency, or head over to adha.org for some more in-depth information on #NDHM2016.

Brush: This one is easy. Brush for two minutes at least twice each day. Most people like to brush when they wake up and before they go to bed. But brushing after every meal doesn’t hurt! Are you using the correct technique when you brush? Click here to find out.

Floss: You might’ve seen some recent reports about the effectiveness of flossing. The ADHA and Kid’s Dentistree are united in our opinion — Flossing is still an important part of your dental hygiene routine. If you’d like to read more about it, check out this article we wrote.  And for tips on proper flossing technique, click here.

Rinse: Did you know teeth alone account for less than half of the mouth? Don’t forget about the rest! Rinsing with an antimicrobial mouth rinse helps eliminate biofilm and bacteria that brushing and flossing cannot. Talk with your child’s dentist to determine which antiseptic mouth rinse is right for them. For a simple guide on rinsing, click here.

Chew: Believe it or not, chewing sugar-free gum is not just good at curing bad breath. Chewing sugar-free gum also stimulates salivary glands in your mouth, which helps clean out food and neutralize acids found on your teeth. So go ahead, chew some gum after your meal. Just make sure it’s sugar-free!

Show your support for #NDHM2016

Below is a poster you can print out and a banner that fits perfectly as your Facebook cover photo. If you’re serious about dental hygiene, show your support this month and help start the conversation!

NDHM_2016WebBanner_690x2002016_NDHM_Poster-page-001

NDHM_2016WebBanner_690x200

 

Cute girl cleaning teeth by floss

Kid’s Dentistree Reacts to AP Flossing Report

By now, you’ve probably seen or heard about the AP flossing report that claims the “medical benefits of dental flossing [are] unproven.” Needless to say, it has been causing quite a stir in the Kid’s Dentistree offices! Not because it’s changing our opinions about oral hygiene – but because the article itself is a little misleading.

 

A lack of good research doesn’t prove something is ineffective.

 

As you’d imagine, a number of dental groups have already publicly shown their support for flossing since the AP report was released. The American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) were both quick to address the duration of these studies, which in general have been conducted only over short periods of time. In the AAP’s official statement about flossing, their president acknowledges that “much of the current evidence does not utilize a large sample size or examine gum health over a significant amount of time. Additionally, many of the existing studies do not measure true markers of periodontal health such as inflammation or clinical attachment loss.” And that “because the development of periodontal disease is slow in nature and because a variety of factors can impact its progression, studies that examine the efficacy of daily flossing are best conducted over a number of years and among a large population.”

What the studies in the AP report failed to incorporate in their research were very important factors, primarily family history and the presence of other health issues. One doctor even said he doubted the patients in the study flossed correctly. So although there may be conflicting conclusions about the efficacy of flossing, it’s worth remembering that flossing is only one aspect of maintaining good oral health. Just like maintaining a good diet is only one aspect of physical health.

 

The American Dental Association still defends flossing as an essential part of taking care of teeth and gums.

 

The AP report, despite all its claims that flossing is ineffective, still never fully endorses an end to flossing altogether. In fact, the report ends with a recommendation from Dr. Iafolla, a public health analyst at the National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Policy, to keep flossing once a day. “It’s low-risk, low-cost,” Dr. Iafolla said. “We know there’s a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it.” In an August 4 release, the ADA argues that the federal government has never changed its stance on flossing and “the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) made a deliberate decision to focus on food and nutrient intake (i.e., added sugar).”

“According to the American Dental Association (ADA), interdental cleaners such as floss are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach. Interdental cleaning is proven to help remove debris between teeth that can contribute to plaque buildup.”

 

Dental hygiene care plans should be personalized.

 

The official statement from the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) endorses a dental hygiene care plan that is “personalized according to the individual’s unique oral health needs, general health status, values, expectations and abilities. Not all adjunct devices are appropriate for all patients, and it is important for dental hygiene professionals to work with their patients on which interdental cleaning method fits their needs.” For some patients, this could mean using a Waterpik®, or a water-flossing product that has been proven more effective than string floss at improving gum health. For others, like the dentist in the video above, the answer could be an old-fashioned wooden toothpick. Whatever decision you make, there is no better person to help you decide what’s right for you than the person who knows your teeth the best – your dental hygienist.

 

 

Now that you’ve heard how everyone else is responding, let’s hear what Andrea Edelen, a real-life Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH), has to say:

Professional Portrait of Andrea Edelen

Andrea Edelen, RDH, BS, National Director of Hygiene, Mortenson Dental Partners

“We believe in dental hygiene practice that is both evidence-based and patient-centered. Our standard of care emphasizes that the oral hygiene recommendations be personalized according to the patient’s unique oral health needs, general health status, and abilities. Not all adjunct devices are appropriate for all patients, and it is important for dental professionals to work with their patients on which interdental cleaning method fits their needs. The ADA supports flossing with proper technique among other interdental cleaners being beneficial to removing bacteria, biofilm, and food debris from interproximal areas that a tooth brush cannot access.”

Hands holding stomach to highlight stomach pain

Crohn’s Disease, Colitis and Oral Health

About 5 million people worldwide are living with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These chronic diseases affect the digestive system and cause intestinal tissue to become inflamed, form sores and bleed easily. Crohn’s specifically can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract including the lips, mouth and even the esophagus. And in addition to the physical and emotional toll IBD has on the well-being of its patients such as weight loss, fever, nausea, diarrhea and anemia, it can also have a number of negative effects on oral health.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell what is causing changes in the mouth such as ulcers, soreness, dry mouth or cavities. Sometimes medications taken to treat Crohn’s disease interfere with normal mouth bacteria that can cause problems. IBD can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that affect dental and oral health. In other instances, it is the disease itself causing the problems. Your doctor can identify whether Crohn’s or colitis is interfering with the health of your teeth and gums with testing.

Closeup portrait of young man with tooth ache crown bridge problem about to cry from pain touching inside mouth with hand, isolated white background. Negative emotion facial expression feeling

Cavities & Tooth Decay

For 8-29% of patients with Crohn’s Disease, cavities can appear before any intestinal complications. Many patients have reported an increase in tooth decay and higher incidence of cavities as they have undergone treatment for Crohn’s. And studies have shown that changes caused by colitis in the mucus that lines the gastrointestinal tract have led to tooth decay in some patients. Patients who are using Prednisone for their symptoms might want to consult their physician and dentist as some patients have reported a link between the medication and cavities. In our research, this was a very common side effect of medical treatment and the connection should not be taken lightly.


Closeup portrait, elderly business woman with tooth ache, crown problem, cavity pain, touching outside mouth with hand, isolated white background. Negative human emotion facial expression feeling

Mouth Ulcers & Vitamin Deficiencies

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is known to cause legions throughout the intestine, colon, esophagus as well as in and around patients’ mouths. Poor vitamin consumption, particularly of vitamin D, can lead to complications that range from small, painless lesions inside the mouth to ulcerations and swelling of the lips. This can lead to more serious issues like Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, oral tuberculosis, cheilitis granulomatosa, sarcoidosis, or even contact allergic reactions. Pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans is also associated with Crohn’s disease, but only rarely. Symptoms include pustules (pimples) that can be yellow or whitish in appearance in the mouth. After the pustules rupture, they leave a superficial ulcer. The lymph glands under the chin can become swollen and there may be mild pain. Yeast infections and deficiencies in Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, zinc and Vitamin K are common.


Young woman holds side of her face and looks sad

Gum Inflammation & Gingivitis

Gum problems, such as swollen or bleeding gums, can be another complication of Crohn’s and may be the result of poor nutrition. Getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet is crucial to good overall health and oral health, but the combination of Crohn’s and mouth problems can leave you with little appetite or interest in eating. You might need to work harder on the quality of your diet because the consequences of Crohn’s can prevent your body from taking advantage of all the nutrients in the foods you eat; instead, food is moved through your system without being fully digested. Some medicines can contribute to inflammation and gingivitis, so if you are using the following medications, you might want to talk with your doctor about possible alternatives: Steroids, Mesalazine and Methotrexate.


Portrait of a sporty young woman holding an apple and a bottle of water against a white background

Prevention

As always, we encourage you to discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your doctor or dentist. But the following tips will not only help your overall health, they might also prevent dental complications associated with IBD:

  • Avoid sweetened drinks like soda, juice and energy drinks
  • Limit the amount of dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) you eat
  • Get plenty of sunlight or take a vitamin D supplement
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals each day that are low in saturated fat, with lots of fruit and antioxidant-rich foods (beans, berries, apples)
  • Stop smoking!

If your child has IBD, let’s talk! We’d love to help you find the right treatment for their oral health.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

“Close to 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,575 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 48,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.” Oral Cancer Foundation

 

This is the harsh reality of oral cancer, a disease that is easy to diagnose, but often discovered too late.

 
The Facts: The death rate of oral cancer is higher than cancers we hear about more frequently, including cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid. In fact, there are more deaths from mouth cancer each year than there are from road accidents. If you expand the definition of oral and oropharyngeal cancers to include cancer of the larynx, the numbers of diagnosed cases grow to approximately 54,000 individuals, and 13,500 deaths per year in the U.S. alone. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with over 450,000 new cases being found each year.

The median age of diagnosis is 62 years old, with the highest percentage of deaths falling within the 55-64 age group. Oral cancer is more common in men than in women, with two men affected for every woman. And those with a history of tobacco or heavy alcohol use account for nearly 75% of all oral cancers diagnosed. Smokers are 6 times more likely than nonsmokers to develop mouth or pharyngeal cancer, and approximately 90% of people with oral cancer are tobacco users.  Over the past 10 years, its incidence has increased in the younger population due to increased contraction of human human papilloma virus (HPV), which is now considered the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer.

 

Signs and Symptoms: If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms that last for more than two weeks (14 days), you should consider scheduling an appointment with your dentist or doctor for a screening. Remember, early detection is critical.

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • A lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
  • A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Tongue pain
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Difficult or painful chewing
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Sore throat

 

Get Involved: If you’d like to spread awareness this month and beyond, there are plenty of ways to do so.

 

Share this infographic to show your support

 

 

Oral Cancer Facts Infographic

Woman holding mug with text that reads "Do's and Don'ts for a Whiter Smile"

11 Do’s And Don’ts for a Whiter Smile

When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) asked people what they would most like to improve about their smile, a whiter smile was the overwhelming response.  A whiter, brighter smile gives the impression of youth and good health. As we age, the outer enamel of the teeth gets thinner so that yellowish dentin shows through. Teeth become darker, yellow, and more stained. Certain foods and beverages also undermine a white smile by staining teeth.

The American Dental Association (AACD) and celebrity dentist Jonathan B. Levine, DMD, offer several suggestions for whiter teeth. Follow these tips to achieve a more dazzling, engaging smile.


1. Avoid foods and beverages that stain teeth. Coffee, red wine, cola, tea, and cranberry juice are the main offenders. Soy sauce and blueberries can also stain teeth.

Smiling woman holding cup of coffee

2. Drink staining beverages from a straw. Drinking from a straw reduces the amount of contact staining liquid has with teeth.

Close-up of a woman drinking lemonade with a straw

3. Brush immediately after consuming a staining food or beverage.

Boy with braces brushing his teeth

4. Rinse after eating acidic fruits to prevent erosion of tooth enamel which can make teeth stain more easily.

Woman sipping water

5. Eat an apple or raw vegetable after consuming a staining food or beverage to help remove surface stains.

Healthy woman eating an apple

6. Replace your toothbrush every three months to clean properly and floss to prevent stains between teeth.

Old Toothbrush

7. Avoid certain lipstick colors. Dr. Levine cautions that red with a blue undertone will highlight yellow tones in teeth. Try a medium coral instead.

Woman applying red lipstick

8. Choose off-white clothing. Dr. Levine also finds that bright white clothing near the face makes teeth appear more yellow. This is especially important for brides or anyone selecting an outfit for a photo session.

Woman in rustic vintage California wedding dress

9. Avoid smoking. Tar and nicotine cause significant yellowing.

Young girl blowing a cloud of smoke

10. Consider cosmetic whitening. An overwhelming number of over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, gels, trays, and strips are on the market. While inexpensive, they are not as effective as in-office whitening because they remove stains rather than change the color of teeth. Also, the trays often fit poorly.

Woman smiles and points at teeth

11. Consult your dentist about in-office whitening. Bleach may not correct all discoloration issues. Some medications can cause discoloration. Yellow teeth respond better to bleaching than brown or gray teeth. Whitening may not be for you if you have caps, crowns, or fillings. If you are a candidate for whitening, your dentist can use stronger bleaching agents than over-the-counter products and may also use special light or laser. Your dentist can also send you home with properly fitted trays so you can maintain your new, whiter smile.

Teeth whitening

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