YOU Magazine - March 2008 - Teeth Whitening Making the Most of Your Smile
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
AVP/Sr Mortgage Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
Fax: (907)929-6699
License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
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Teeth Whitening
Making the Most of Your Smile

Teeth Whitening - Making the Most of Your Smile

It serves as both an involuntary reflex and an intended gesture. Unique to human physiology, most people view it as a highly positive signal. To say it is integral to conducting business is a bit of an understatement. As for our personal lives, let's just say that without it most relationships would never get off the ground. If you haven't guessed, we're talking about our ability to smile.

Smiling is crucial to our daily lives because it is the most outward expression of our inward happiness. But there are many elements that underlie our proclivity to grin, our self-esteem regarding our appearance being one of them. The brightness and whiteness of our teeth play a large role in bolstering that confidence.

Unfortunately time is not on our side, as there are several factors that come along with age which are major causes for tooth discoloration. Topping the list are the various physiological changes that occur in our teeth's enamel. Rounding it off is the repeated consumption of different foods, the use of certain medications, any oral trauma we may experience, our level of dental hygiene, and personal genetics.

Since we can't do anything about our genetics, and oftentimes we have little to say about the trauma we experience, we thought it best to address the areas that we can control. The following are a few tips, as well as some handy information for keeping your teeth their pearly whitest.

Chromogenic Foods
Several foods and beverages are known as "chromogenic", a term that signifies an ability to stain teeth. Coffee, tea, sodas, red wine, darker fruits, chocolate, and tobacco are a few of the more popular chromogenic foods. Don't worry; we're not going to tell you to cut them out altogether. However, reducing your intake, as well as brushing your teeth subsequent to consuming them has been shown to minimize their effects on staining. Even a simple rinsing with water has proven to be beneficial.

Good Hygiene
It's stating the obvious to say that good dental hygiene is important to a bright smile. But the question remains, are you practicing it?

For the average adult, the American Dental Association recommends brushing their teeth for a minimum of two minutes, two times a day. Also recommended are the use of a soft-bristled toothbrush (to be replaced every 3 to 4 months) and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. The use of dental floss or an interdental cleaner should be used at least once a day, and regular professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist should be performed every 6 months.

Let's remember that this is the ADA's minimum recommendation for the average adult. If you are looking for a brighter smile, but your lifestyle choices put you around many of these chromogenic foods, you should be brushing at least three times a day and consider having your teeth professionally cleaned every 4 months. You may also want to look into some of the options for periodical teeth whitening.

"Whitening" Products
Nowadays it seems that every manufacturer of toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, and even chewing gum has a version of their product meant for whitening teeth. With this sort of ubiquity usually comes controversy, and over-the-counter whitening products definitely have their share.

For starters, it's important to understand the type of whitening that doesn't occur when using these products. In the case of natural aging, where the teeth's enamel has become porous and either long-term staining is present, or the yellowish dentin within the teeth has begun to show through, these products have little or no effect. But that's not to say that they can't be useful in other ways.

While most whitening products utilize either an abrasive and/or a mild peroxide-based solution, they do not stay in contact with the teeth long enough to cause "bleaching". They can, however, yield positive results when trying to remove more short-term stains, making them very effective in maintaining your teeth after they've been professionally bleached.

It is important to note that over-the-counter whitening products are not all created equally. Some are simply ineffective, while others can be much too harsh and actually damage your teeth's enamel after prolonged or improper use. We recommend consulting your family dentist regarding the products that he or she recommends.

Bleaching Strips
Most of the feedback we've received from dentists, as well as users of bleaching strips, is that they actually work. The level of effectiveness has a lot to do with the specific brand, as well as your diligence, but the science behind the different versions is generally the same.

Thin sheets of plastic are coated on one side with a peroxide-based bleaching solution. Users position one strip over their top row of teeth and another over the bottom. Depending on the individual product, strips are generally worn for 30 minutes, twice a day, and for up to three weeks.

The upside to this product is that it's relatively inexpensive ($25 to $40 for an entire round of treatment) and extremely accessible, as bleaching strips are available at most grocery and drug stores. There are a few downsides, however. The first is the 3 weeks it takes for them to work. It means that for a 21-day stretch, you'll need to spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening with the strips in your mouth.

Another downside is that after 3 weeks of discipline, your teeth may not turn out as white as they would with a quicker and more expensive form of bleaching. In addition, there's the potential for short-term sensitivity in the teeth and gums. Prior to purchasing any brand of bleaching strips, please consult with your dentist to see if this is an appropriate treatment for you.

At-Home, Tray-Based Bleaching
Since the early 90s, tray-based bleaching has been the most widely used form of professional teeth whitening. It was also the inspiration behind the development of the aforementioned bleaching strips. Tray-based bleaching, however, is much more exact and much more effective than its over-the-counter counterpart.

The process usually starts with a visit to your dentist and a complete oral exam. The purpose is so he or she can determine if you are a worthy candidate for teeth whitening, as well as the level of whitening you will require. From there, the focus shifts on creating perfectly fitting trays that will eventually hold a much stronger peroxide-based whitening solution and be worn like a mouth guard.

The process begins with your dentist taking impressions of your teeth. The impressions are turned into plaster molds, which are then used to form the whitening trays. It usually takes a dentist several days to accomplish this process, so expect to come back for a second visit.

Once your bleaching trays have been made, they are trimmed down to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. Your dentist will then send you home with a bottle of bleaching solution and detailed instructions for completing your treatment. Most treatments will last between one and two weeks. During that time, the patient will wear their tray or trays (containing the appropriate amount of bleaching solution) for several hours a day, or sometimes overnight.

The end result of this process is nothing less than spectacular. Generally speaking, a patient's teeth will become very white and stay that way for quite a while, depending on his or her lifestyle and hygiene. But be advised that tray-based bleaching can also cause short-term sensitivity in both the teeth and gums.

Prices will vary, but you should expect to spend between $150 and $300 per tray (upper and lower), or between $300 and $600 for the entire mouth. Subsequent treatments will not be as expensive because your custom trays will have already been made.

Chair-Side or In-Office Bleaching
The newest innovation in teeth whitening comes in the form of an in-office, chair-side treatment, performed by either a dentist, a cosmetic dentist, or in the case of the video attached to this article, a cosmetic surgeon.

There are several chair-side systems available but most operate in somewhat the same way. The doctor begins by placing a peroxide-based gel into a mouthpiece. The patient bites down on the mouthpiece, while a guard is placed over the lips and gums. Depending on the system, either a light or heat source is then used to activate the bleaching gel.

Not only does this method yield dramatic results, it does so in a fraction of the time. Most treatments of this nature can be accomplished in roughly one hour. But they can be expensive, many costing between $250 and $500 per arch (upper and lower), or $500 to $1,000 for the entire mouth.

In the video that accompanies this article, Dr. Fardad Forouzanpour, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, demonstrates a brand new technique in chair-side bleaching. Known as the Infinity Teeth Whitening System, it utilizes a proprietary whitening gel and a spectrum of light not used by the other systems. The best part - Dr. Forouzanpour whitens his patients' teeth in 7 minutes!

Depending on the level of staining, Dr. Forouzanpour can administer up to 3 treatments in one session, and the good news doesn't end there. Because of the shorter treatments, the cost to the doctor's patients is much less, $150 for each treatment. Dr. Forouzanpour adds that if a patient elects for multiple treatments in one session, he even gives them a break in the price. Who says there are no discounts in Beverly Hills?

Good luck in keeping your teeth white and remember to keep smiling!

Dr. Fardad Forouzanpour is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon in practice for nearly a decade. A graduate of UCLA and Midwestern University in Chicago, Dr. Forouzanpour performed five years of surgical residency in some of the country's top hospitals. Prior to returning to southern California, the doctor completed his first fellowship in cosmetic surgery under the former president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Dr. Richard Caleel.

In 1998, Dr. Forouzanpour opened his own practice in Beverly Hills, California. For more information about him and the treatments he offers, contact The Beverly Hills Cosmetic Surgical Group at (310) 360-0504, or log on to their website at To learn more about the Infinity Teeth Whitening System, visit their website at

The editorial staff at YOU Magazine would like to welcome field correspondent, Jill Wilderman, to the team. Jill is a multiple Daytime Emmy nominee and is currently an on-camera host and reporter for

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