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Expert Advice: Teeth Whitening

Following is some information on teeth whitening, courtesy of my brother, Dr. Jeff Drayer, a New York–based orthodontist, and the American Dental Association (ADA). There are many different approaches to whitening teeth, from over-the-counter strips to professional procedures. The difference in the result depends on the levels of active ingredients. Teeth with a yellowish color tend to whiten well with a bleaching process, whereas teeth that are grayish do not bleach as well. Teeth that are stained due to tetracycline may be very resistant to whitening procedures.
*Enamel microdermabrasion. Your dentist can use this procedure to file off localized stains or spots.

*Whitening mouthwash. These preparations may contain hydrogen peroxide to bleach your teeth, as well as other ingredients.

*Whitening toothpaste. This can make your teeth appear a little lighter by removing stains on the surface of the teeth, but it will not actually bleach your teeth.

*Over-the-counter tooth-whitening products. These range from “pens” to whitening strips to trays of gel you put in your mouth. These methods may be helpful for maintenance following a professional procedure.


Brushing with Salt Whitens Teeth
Salt has a coarse texture, which works to thin the outer layer of your teeth, resulting in brighter and whiter teeth. This is not much different from using a scouring pad on your body to soften your skin. Using salt as a treatment for whiter teeth will shift stains, but it comes at a high cost, such as sensitive gums and teeth and the potential for cavities.

*Dental trays with gel prescribed by your dentist. Toothwhitening kits from the dentist produce faster results because they contain a stronger peroxide bleaching agent than anything you can buy over the counter.

*One-time in-office treatment. Your teeth can be whitened by several shades in under an hour, dramatically improving the appearance of your teeth. You may have three applications of whitening gel during one appointment. A special lamp is used to activate the whitening gel and speed up the whitening process. This approach uses a strong whitening agent, so there’s more potential for temporary sensitivity.

The ADA advises patients to consult with their dentists to determine the most appropriate treatment to meet their needs.

Magnesium’s Role in Beauty

Recommended Dietary Allowance

WOMEN: 310 mg (ages 19 to 30), 320 mg (ages 31 and above)
MEN: 400 mg (ages 19 to 30), 420 mg (ages 31 and above)

By working together with calcium and vitamin D, magnesium helps to maintain strong, beautiful bones and teeth. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 chemical reactions that occur in the body.

10 Good Whole-Food Sources of Magnesium:
1. Spinach, boiled, 1 cup, 157 mg
2. Pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup, 185 mg
3. Soybeans, cooked, 1 cup, 148 mg
4. Salmon, chinook, baked, 4 oz. 138 mg
5. Sunflower seeds, raw, 1/2 cup, 127 mg
6. Sesame seeds, 1/2 cup, 126 mg
7. Halibut, baked, 4 oz. 121 mg
8. Black beans, cooked, 1 cup, 120 mg
9. Almonds, dry roasted, 1/2 cup, 99 mg
10. Walnuts, 1/2 cup, 44 mg

The Proper Way to Take Care of Your Teeth

Remember, the most important part of good dental hygiene is commitment.

*Brush your teeth twice a day, with fluoride toothpaste. Brush your tongue too.

*There is a proper way to brush teeth. Have your dentist or hygienist show you.

*Use a toothbrush that has soft bristles. Electric toothbrushes can help ensure that you brush for the right amount of time and prevent hard scrubbing, but they aren’t necessarily better.

*Replace your brush every three months—and don’t share it with anyone! Your toothbrush comes into contact with millions of bacteria in your mouth.

*Floss between your teeth every day. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line—places where toothbrush bristles can’t reach.

*Try brushing and flossing right after dinner while you still have the energy. This also will discourage evening snacking and help you stay slim.

*Use an antimicrobial mouth rinse to inhibit bacterial activity in dental plaque. Some have fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay.

*Visit your dentist regularly—at a minimum, twice a year. Only your dentist or hygienist can clean the tartar off your teeth and catch little problems before they become big.

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