People can sometimes put their appearance before their health, and this can affect the teeth as much as it affects the body. Even though our culture seems to think your smile should always be radiant, whiter teeth are not always healthier teeth. Here’s what you should know about what color teeth should be and why it’s important to keep seeing your dentist no matter how white your smile is.
What Color Should My Teeth Be?
Just like with eyes and hair, healthy teeth are different colors for different people. The outer layers of your teeth include bluish-white enamel on the exterior and yellowish dentin underneath. Generally, healthy teeth should appear to be a slightly yellow off-white, though genetic factors can lead to teeth being another color.
How Are Whiter Teeth Not Always Healthier?
In medieval times, long before the rise of modern dental science, people still saw whiter teeth as more favorable. During that time, dentistry was considered to be the job of the town barber (along with surgery). One popular treatment was for a barber to apply a few coats of a special acid to a patient’s teeth. While this did have a whitening effect, it also eroded the enamel layer, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to injury, infection, and decay. [HJ1] Clearly, whiter teeth are not always healthier teeth, and it’s important to be smarter than a medieval barber when it comes to matters of your oral health.
Are There Any Risks to Store-Bought Teeth Whitening Products?
You can go to a store or pharmacy and find many brands of teeth whitening products for sale. While some of them are reasonably safe and effective, others can lead to injury or poor results due to bad design or user error. They may leave teeth unevenly whitened or irritate the gums by exposing them to the whitening agent. Just like a medieval barber’s acid treatment, many of these products can erode the teeth’s enamel during the whitening process.
If you don’t trust these products, then your dentist can provide you with a customized teeth whitening treatment with results superior to those of anything you could buy at the store. It can come in the form of a take-home kit or an in-office procedure, and either one can brighten your teeth by up to ten shades. Best of all, you know your teeth are getting a professional treatment that is simply out of reach with store-bought solutions.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve the appearance of your smile, but you should be smart about how you do it. Making your teeth whiter shouldn’t make them fall out sooner, and consulting with your dentist can lead you to the best way to achieve that.
About the Author
Dr. S. John Salivonchik earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Temple Dental School and now serves the oral health needs of people in Coplay, PA. He has attended advanced dental training seminars across the country and serves as a proud member of the American Dental Association, the Pennsylvania Dental Association, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Areas of expertise include general, restorative, emergency, and cosmetic dentistry such as teeth whitening treatments. For more information on achieving whiter teeth the healthy way, contact his office online or dial (610) 502-1545.
[HJ1]Maybe add another sentence to this section that says how this can also exist in the modern era; teeth can appear white but are suspect to underlying issues