You hear a lot about unrealistic beauty standards in TV and magazines. Usually, it’s mentioned regarding physical proportions. Women feel pressured to be slimmer and while still having perfect curves and perky breasts.
They worry about the shape of their noses, the tightness of their skin, and any spots or wrinkles they might develop with age. Even men are increasingly feeling the push to be leaner, trimmer, fitter, and more stylish.
Sometimes, these unattainable standards come up in unexpected places. Women find themselves desiring long, flowing, voluminous locks, not knowing that the ones on TV are mostly hair extensions. And both men and women find themselves drawn to the sparkling white smiles of the stars.
What many dental patients don’t realise is that TV smiles aren’t always a result of tooth whitening treatments. Sometimes, those smiles sparkle because of stage lighting, screen contrast, and makeup. Other times, those bright whites are a result of veneers, which are quite different from teeth whiteners.
Veneers are porcelain shells that are attached to the surface of your enamel. They rarely stain, and reflect light much better, making your smile brighter. They’re also a lot more expensive than teeth whitening procedures.
The challenge comes when patients try to use teeth whiteners to get the same effect as veneers. A good dentist will help you keep your whiteners within safe levels, which is why many patients use home treatments to overdo their whiteners.
Excessive home use can corrode your enamel, leading to further dental problems. It can even end up affecting your nerves. Your teeth may become sensitive to food, air, and even sound. Worse, if you over-whiten your teeth and wear off too much enamel, you might expose your dentin. This, ironically, will leave your teeth looking transparent, blue, or even grey, depending on the shade of your dentin.
When you’re trying to decide how white you should go, a dentist will offer you the best guidance. Some helpful layman’s advice is to choose the same shade of ‘white’ that is in your eyes. This will give you a more natural appearance and is a more healthy approach.
Contrary to public opinion, the white in teeth is not universal. Tooth tones can range from full bleach to ivory. Dentists have a large colour selection of natural whites, so when you visit a dental clinic, they will match them against your teeth and help you find the best shade.
Teeth whitening treatments aren’t just for bleaching teeth. Their focus is on getting rid of stains and giving you an even smile. In fact, did you know that sometimes, teeth can have white stains? They might be caused by harsh toothpaste or drinking overly-fluoridated water. Sometimes, teeth whiteners aim to match the white spots with the rest of your teeth.
As you speak with your dentist, recognise that the best result would be a natural-looking smile, rather than teeth that glow in the dark. Trust your dentist to give you the right selection, and don’t top up the treatment at home unless your dentist advises it.
If your dentist tells you it’s okay to continue the treatment at home, be sure to follow their instructions. It’s possible to ‘overdose’ your home-bleaching treatment and end-up harming your teeth, so don’t overdo it.
Another thing to consider is that fillings and veneers will stand out. So if you’ve had a single tooth fixed during an earlier dentist visit, it will respond differently when you whiten the rest of your teeth. If you’re not aware of this, you might get stuck in a loop of trying to make the rest of your teeth as white as your single filling.
In such cases, don’t hurt yourself trying to do the impossible. Let your dentist know about your fillings and veneers beforehand. That way, your dentist can figure out the best way to match your teeth to the veneer rather than the other way around.
But if you do want to get that TV smile, then don’t destroy your teeth with excessive whiteners. Instead, talk your dentist about porcelain veneers and maybe come up with a payment plan. It’s safer, faster, and a lot more healthy in the long run.