Is the whitening a dentist does different than the strips you can get at the store?
I did the #YellowTeeth challenge on TikTok around a month ago—the one where you use the yellow filter to check and see if your teeth are white or yellow. I was honestly surprised because they did come back yellow. Not real yellow like those ones where you can tell people did something to their teeth to make them show up, but I could definitely tell the yellow was there.
Ever since then, I’ve been doing those whitening strips at home. I started wearing them for a while before bed for about two weeks and didn’t see any change, so for the past two weeks, I’ve been wearing them overnight. Still no change.
So, what I want to know is if this will eventually fix it? Or is it something only a dentist can fix? Or are they always going to be somewhat yellow?
Ah, the infamous Yellow Teeth Challenge. There are things your local dentist can do to help get you to a shade you’re happier with. Let’s break this down.
Your teeth are made up of layers.
First, it’s important to understand the basic components of your teeth. In the very center of a tooth, you have the pulp. It’s the vital part of your tooth made up of connective tissue, blood vessels, and cells, so it’s soft and when something happens to it, you really feel it! Then, you have dentin. It’s normally a pale-yellow color but can even have a gray or blueish hue. It’s made up of calcified living tissue, so it’s tougher than the pulp, but it’s also full of microscopic holes called tubules. On the outside, you have the hardest parts of your tooth: cementum below the gumline and enamel above. Enamel’s made up of non-living minerals and it’s largely translucent.
Natural teeth are not white.
You may have already had an aha moment. Yes, natural, healthy teeth can be a bit yellow. In fact, when researchers measured natural teeth, they discovered the most common shade was something called 3M1, followed by 1M1.5. You can see them against a white backdrop here. Nope, they’re not even close to white.
Stop using whitening strips so much!
But, here’s where it gets worrisome. You’re using whitening strips way too much and that’s bad for your teeth and gums. Researchers have found that the active ingredient in whitening strips can damage your dentin. Excessive use can also lead to tooth sensitivity, irritated gums, and other issues.
Your dentist may be able to help you achieve a brighter smile.
There are lots of reasons teeth might have a yellower hue. If you have thinner enamel, more of the dentin’s color will show through. Teeth will pick up extrinsic stains too. Tobacco as well as foods and drinks like teas or coffee are common culprits.
Oftentimes, a good cleaning from your hygienist will power those away, but more stubborn ones respond well to professional whitening treatments. Yes, the whitening your dentist offers is different than the kind you purchase at the store. It’s stronger and works much faster.
That said, sometimes whitening is not the answer. For example, if age or thin enamel are the cause, your path to a brighter smile may include other forms of cosmetic dentistry, such as veneers. Your best bet is to schedule a consultation with your dentist, so he can evaluate the cause of your yellow teeth and let you know your options.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Raymond Bolt, an Auburn, AL dentist.