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    Whiten Your Teeth at Home

    Does It Work?

    That depends. “Generally speaking, yellow teeth tend to whiten better than teeth with gray tones,” Messina says. Teeth that are stained by medicines don’t tend to lighten well. And bleaching won’t work on caps, crowns, veneers, or fillings. You may need to have your teeth restored first.

    What Are the Side Effects?

    These products can make your teeth more sensitive. It happens when the peroxide seeps through the enamel that covers your tooth and bothers the nerve. In most cases this feeling doesn’t last. If it does, or if your gums change color, see your dentist right away.

    When Will I See Results?

    You should know if it’s working in about a week, Messina says. Take a photo of your smile before you use an OTC whitening kit the first time. Take a second a week later. Compare the two. If you see a change, it’s working. But make sure your goals are realistic.

    If your teeth aren’t brighter after 2 weeks, call your dentist. “If you’re not getting good results after one box of whitening strips, you’re not going to see better results after 10 boxes,” Messina says. You may need a stronger treatment.

    Tips to Keep Your Teeth White

    You’ve spent time and money to brighten your smile. Follow these tips to keep it that way:

    • Quit smoking. Tobacco is bad for your health -- and your pearly whites.
    • Cut back on coffee, tea, cola, and red wine. “Anything you would get yelled at for spilling on a white tablecloth will stain your teeth,” Messina says. Sip through a straw to bypass your front teeth
    • Keep your mouth healthy. Brush your teeth well at least twice a day. Use a whitening toothpaste. Don’t forget to floss.
    • See your dentist. Get your teeth cleaned twice a year to help them stay white and healthy.
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    Reviewed on November 01, 2015

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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