Dental Insurance

Need Help? 888-468-3390

Teeth Whitening: Putting the Pearly Back

Does your smile lack its former sparkle? Over time, our teeth begin to yellow and stain. This fact of life can cause embarrassment and insecurity. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to prevent discoloration and improve the appearance of our teeth.

Smile-dulling culprits

These are the most common offenders when it comes to less-than-vibrant teeth:

  • Age—as we get older, our enamel naturally thins, revealing the dentin underneath
  • Coffee and tea
  • Soda and sports drinks
  • Wine
  • Tobacco use
  • Poor hygiene fosters tarter and plaque buildup, which attract stains
  • Medication such as tetracycline and antihistamines
  • Excessive fluoride through drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.
  • Foods such as soy sauce, blueberries, tomato sauce, and curry
  • Heredity—if your parents and grandparents have yellowed teeth, chances are you will too

Returning the luster

Whether you have a special occasion coming up or just want to feel more confident about your smile, there are many teeth whitening methods that range in effort and expense.

Professional applications include bleaching, porcelain veneers and bonding. While in-office treatments tend to be more expensive and are typically not covered by insurance plans, they can also be stronger and more effective. You also benefit from skilled application and supervision, which may cut down on side-effects such as tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.

At-home options include whitening toothpaste, strips, gels and trays—and they are all fairly user-friendly. This route can save you hundreds of dollars; however, you may experience more tooth sensitivity and gum irritation—these are only temporary problems—if you are not meticulous in applying these products.

It may take time for any method to work, and not all of them will. Existing restorations will not respond to treatment, which means you may notice color variations in your teeth.

Preventing dim grins

While some yellowing and staining may not be avoidable, there are things you can do to slow them and prevent them from worsening.

  • Schedule regular cleanings with your hygienist
  • Eat more carrots, celery, apples and strawberries; these can help naturally clean and whiten
  • Use a straw when consuming stain-causing beverages
  • Drink sugary, acidic drinks quickly; don’t nurse them
  • Sip water, swish it around, and brush as soon as possible after consuming foods and beverages that stain teeth
  • Brush and floss twice a day using proper technique
  • Purchase dental insurance —those who have it are more likely to receive the preventive care

It is important to remember that not all whitening methods work for all types of staining and discoloration. Talk to your dentist about what options are best for you.

For more information on tooth whitening, visit the American Dental Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Academy of General Dentistry

Shop and buy

*Required Fields

*ZIP Code
Effective Date
*Date of Birth
Date of Birth
Number of Children


© 2001-2017 IHC Health Solutions