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Q: How can I brighten my smile?

Posted January 15, 2014 in Advice Column, Winterset

A: Many products are available to brighten your smile. These include whitening toothpastes, gels, strips and in-office whitening treatments. Whitening is ideal for people who have healthy teeth and gums with minimal staining.

In-office bleaching. Your dentist will professionally apply the bleaching agent and supervise your treatment. Following the in-office treatment, custom-made whitening trays will be provided in order to continue with take-home whitening. The dental staff can answer any of your questions or concerns.

At-home bleaching can be achieved on your own at home; however, results vary greatly. This is not supervised by a dentist and there are potential side effects. The most common side effect is gum irrigation from poorly fitting trays or strips. This method is typically less expensive for most, but not always satisfactory.

Whitening is not permanent. To keep your smile bright you should avoid red wine, coffee, tea and tobacco products. Whitening is not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women, individuals with sensitive teeth or gums or people with an allergy to peroxide.

It is best to speak with your dentist before you begin any whitening treatment. Your dentist can advise you whether whitening procedures would be effective for you based upon your dental history. He or she can instruct you on the appropriate products to achieve a brighter smile for the new year.

Information provided by Dr. Christopher W. Blanchard, Blanchard Family Dentistry, 820 West Summit St., 462-4474

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