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Smile Enhancement

Everyone knows the importance of a smile. Smiles are instinctive, a universal sign of friendliness that even newborns recognize. An attractive smile goes a long way in getting you what you land a job, and find love. Yet too often, our teeth deny us the benefits of a beautiful smile. They ruin our looks through discoloration, overlapping, crowding, gaps and chips. Fortunately, through cosmetic dentistry and/or orthodontics, all of these problems can be fixed. The number-one job of cosmetic dentistry today is whitening smiles darkened by coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, or simply age. Patients can choose from two routes to whiter teeth: at-home whitening or in-office whitening. At-home patients can choose from whitening toothpastes, peroxide strips, or at-home home bleaching kits.

Whitening toothpastes deep-clean your teeth, scrubbing away heavy stains on your enamel to make your teeth appear whiter. While the polishing agents in these toothpastes help restore your teeth to their original, pre-stain shade of white, they do not actually change the fundamental colour of your teeth. One exception is the Rembrandt line of toothpastes, which contains peroxide. These toothpastes actually oxidize and bleach your teeth.Peroxide strips bleach your teeth through oxidization. Sit the strips against your teeth and for two thirty-minute intervals a day. The most popular peroxide strips are Crest Whitestrips, which whiten your teeth in fourteen days, and Crest Whitestrips Premium, which whiten your teeth in seven days.At-home bleaching kits use carbamide peroxide solutions to oxidize and bleach your teeth. Mouth trays hold this solution in place against your teeth for a specified amount of time each day. You can purchase at-home bleaching kits from either your dentist or your local drugstore. If you purchase a kit from your dentist, he or she will create custom mouth trays based on molds of your teeth, then help you determine the duration of your treatment. If you purchase an "over-the-counter" kit, you might be asked to create your own mold of your teeth with provided material, send your molds away, and receive trays based on these molds within a few weeks. Or you might receive a one-size-fits-all mouth tray within the kit. (Dentists discourage one-size-fits-all kits as they likely will not fit snugly enough into your mouth, creating the risk of peroxide ingestion or gum irritation due to leaked gel. Use these products at your own risk.) The store-bought kits will include instructions on how long to wear your trays in order to whiten your smile.

For faster results, ask your dentist about in-office bleaching procedures (also called chairside, light-activated or one-hour bleaching). Using hydrogen peroxide gels and a heat or light source, these treatments lighten your teeth by six to eight shades in up to three visits, and sometimes less (hence the name "one-hour whitening"). Choose from one of two in-office options:

Traditional Light-Activated Whitening requires that your cosmetic dentist apply the hydrogen peroxide gel to your teeth, then position a lamp by your mouth such that the light shines on your teeth, quickening the work of the gel. Typically, these treatments consist of three twenty-minute gel applications. Laser Whitening also requires that a hydrogen peroxide gel sits on your teeth. Instead of a lamp, your cosmetic dentist will shine a laser light on your teeth, one tooth at a time. Laser whitening allows for greater precision, but can cause some irritation to the gums. This irritation should disappear within twenty-four hours.