Recession Living: Get a brighter smile without breaking the bank

Photo Credit: Hannah Pedraza / Photo Editor

The first thing we usually notice about other people is their smile. Flashing those sparkling, bright white teeth can not only add eye candy and appeal to our overall look, but also help us make good first impressions.

But what happens when we realize our pearly whites have gradually become popcorn butter yellow?

Don’t worry, there is no need to freak out. Luckily, teeth whitening products and procedures have become increasingly popular.  There is a variety of different options for getting back that dazzling smile.

In recent years many have discovered how to whiten their teeth with strips, using products such as Crest Whitestrips or Rembrant whitening strips. Although boxes of whitening strips are flying off store shelves, most people are not fully aware of the whitening process and how the strips work.

Whitening strips are thin layers of plastic lined with a film of hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent. The strips are typically worn twice a day for about 30 minutes each time. It is a gradual process, and only the individual can decided what their desired shade will be.

The treatment can be stopped at any time without causing serious dental damage and therefore is one advantage for using this method. While teeth whitening strips can cost anywhere from $20 to $100, they are merely a fraction of what it costs to get teeth professionally whitened.

For professional in-office teeth whitening procedures, be prepared to spend anywhere from $500-$3,000. Procedures customized for sensitive teeth tend to be a bit pricier, as well as laser tooth whitening.

Although the average process takes about an hour and may whiten teeth by as many as 10 shades, similar results can be found when using the cheaper whitening strips.

However, whitening strips can often take up to six weeks to produce noticeable results. Therefore, due to the slow process, people tend to stop the treatment early. Although it is costly, taking the professional route is the fastest way to whiten teeth, and is usually a one time procedure.

Think about teeth whitening as if it is weight loss. Keeping up with the process is the only way to sustain the desired results. Maintenance is the key to help keep teeth white. Most often, whitening strips are used once every few weeks. This is an inexpensive, easy way to preserve that beautiful, white smile.

But perhaps the best and most inexpensive way to keep teeth looking white and healthy is to take extra precautions to avoid things that will cause the enamel to stain. Here are the top five tips for avoiding yellow teeth:

1. Avoid smoking. Tobacco is one of the most powerful staining products for teeth. Whether the tobacco is being chewed or smoked, it is extremely detrimental to the teeth’s enamel and very hard to remove.

2. Be weary of colored drinks. Beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, and dark fruit juices are known to cause discoloration of teeth. However, if avoiding these types of drinks is impossible, try drinking them through a straw to minimize the liquid’s staining power.

3. Also be  weary of dark colored foods. Foods such as darkly colored berries, soy sauce, and tomato sauce can easily change the color of teeth. Just remember that if the food can stain a carpet, it will stain our teeth. On the other hand, foods such as lemons, vinegar, and pickled ginger have the opposite effect, and actually prevent teeth discoloration.

4. Make time to see a dentist. Not only is teeth color important, but overall oral care is vital to our health. A dentist will most often recommend flossing regularly because the edges of teeth are the location where most of the staining appears. The plaque that sits between the teeth builds up bacteria, and therefore causes an outline of yellow around each individual tooth.

5. Contrary to belief, using baking soda to rinse and wash teeth is not a way to rid teeth of that yellow tint. Baking soda scratches the surface of teeth, actually making teeth more susceptible to produce a stain.

A bright smile is attractive and a sure sign of healthy teeth, something that should never be taken for  granted.