It’s the fashion nowadays for smiles to be clean, perfectly aligned, dazzling and, above all else, whiter than fine bone china. This has very much been the trend for nealy a century and continues to be seen extensively in magazines, TV shows and art wherever ideal standards of beauty are portrayed. Supposedly, whiter smiles indicate better dental hygiene, but does a whiter smile necessarily mean a healthier one?
A History of White-Toothed Smiles
In America, the trend towards white teeth got started because white teeth suggested access to an excellent dentist, which in turn suggested you were wealthy enough to be able to afford one.
Moreover, it also suggested you had the money for expensive treatments required in order to get that dazzling Hollywood smile. As the glamour of white teeth got a foothold, it quickly became assumed that white was the natural colour of teeth.
It doesn’t help that your teeth are going to be among the first things that people notice and make a judgement on regarding your appearance. By our nature, we tend to focus on the mouth when listening to other people talk, so having whiter teeth tends to make a better impression.
A More Natural Smile
In actuality, your teeth are supposed to be at least off-white, more usually an ivory colour. While some people may appear to have whiter teeth than others, this is just an optical illusion caused by contrasting skin pigmentation. African-Americans, for example, tend to have more dazzling smiles than their Caucasian compatriots. While having dark yellow teeth is certainly a cause for concern – it means that food has built up and stained your teeth – in general, there isn’t anything to worry about if your teeth aren’t snow white.
If anything, having teeth that are too white is actually a worrying sign for most dentists. After all, if your teeth aren’t their natural colour then it clearly means there’s something not quite right.
One problem that whiter-than-white teeth might suggest is brittleness. The yellowish colour that usually marks healthy teeth comes from the dentine that forms the bulk of your tooth enamel. If you notice that your teeth don’t seem quite as yellow as they should be, it could mean that the dentine in your teeth has become compromised, weakening their overall strength.
Another problem with white teeth is the possibility of over-bleaching them. Usually bleaching doesn’t cause too much damage to your teeth, especially if it’s done somewhere like Premier Smile Center by professional dentists. There are also plenty of natural ways to bleach teeth that are also gentle to your tooth structure. That said, repeated bleaching can eventually start to damage the tooth enamel, making your teeth weaker and more prone to cracking or loosening.
There are also dangers that are less apparent. Just because your teeth are white doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthier. White teeth are just as susceptible to cavities and fissures as yellow teeth — it’s just that white teeth usually look to have less plaque on them than yellow teeth do. That doesn’t stop plaque collecting in those hard-to-reach crevices within your teeth, though, or in the gaps between teeth where your brush can’t reach. Likewise, fizzy, acidic beverages will still damage their tooth enamel.
Further, focusing too much on the teeth ignores an equally important part of dental hygiene – healthy gums. Your gums should always be a light pink colour, like cotton candy. If it’s more of a red colour than pink, or if they bleed while you’re brushing, then you have the beginnings of gum disease. This could lead to your teeth falling out, pearly white or not.
Think Healthy, Not Pretty
The easiest way to get naturally white teeth is to brush regularly after every meal or sugary drink. Doing so will immediately clear any plaque from your teeth, as well as clean off any staining remnants of past food. In a few months, this will lead to an attractive, natural and very healthy smile. You may also want to consider regular flossing, as well as rinsing out your mouth every morning and night with a good, strong mouthwash.
If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist about other ways to make your teeth whiter while keeping them healthier. They can either bleach and clean them professionally for you or recommend products to use alongside your daily brushing and flossing.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and family man who provides articles and advice on topic affecting the home and family life.