How do I get white teeth?
February 8, 2007 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I want white teeth.

My teeth have always been slightly yellow/cream-coloured - I'm not sure why, although I know some antibiotics for children can cause this, so maybe that was a factor. I'm in my mid-20s, don't smoke or drink coffee or red wine (I drink diet coke though) and try to take care of my teeth as well as possible, but they never look really healthy because of the colour.

Awhile ago I had the LA Smile whitening treatment, which cost £300 (UK) and made absolutely no difference. I have also used Crest Whitestrips and they didn't do much either. My dentist says this is just the colour of my enamel, but surely there must be some way to whiten them? Or are there some teeth that just can't be whitened?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by matteo at 6:03 PM on February 8, 2007

Get a tan, and your teeth will seem whiter by comparison.
posted by hincandenza at 6:12 PM on February 8, 2007

Get a tan, and your teeth will seem whiter by comparison.

Just look at George Hamilton . . . .

anyway, lay off the diet coke.
posted by Sassyfras at 6:26 PM on February 8, 2007

You're never going to get really white teeth if you drink soda. Gotta stop. Have you tried bleaching them with those bleach strip things?
posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Look into laser whitening.
posted by IronLizard at 6:41 PM on February 8, 2007

I've been told by a dentist that teeth colour is a genetic thing, just like skin colouring and that it is pointless to try and " fix it", best to just accept them the way they are.
posted by frizelli at 7:00 PM on February 8, 2007

I've heard (could be wrong) that if you're teeth were darkened by childhood use of tetracycline then you can only change color by wearing veneers. But I think tetracycline-teeth are grey, not yellow.

Anyway, don't listen to people that that say you can't get white teeth if you drink diet coke and smoke. I know because I do both and my teeth are a very unnatural white. I've had them bleached twice. Once by a dentist once from mail order. I'm pretty sure it's the same bleaching material in both.

You're only concern with with method (gel bleaching) is that you HAVE to get your trays made by a dentist so they can put a little extra space it them so the gel doesn't squish out and burn your gums. DO NOT use the trays that you put in warm water then suck on.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:04 PM on February 8, 2007

Also, I probably would have gone with laser whitening if I could have afforded it at the time. And if you have messed up shark teeth you might as well just go with veneers.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:06 PM on February 8, 2007

A friend of mine works at a place that trains dental hygenists. He says they told him that any teeth whitening process damages the enamel and makes the teeth more easily susceptible to future color change. Of course, this gets the people back in for more treatments, which weakens it further. Basically, it's a money making scheme for dentists.
posted by dobbs at 7:12 PM on February 8, 2007

Water fluoridation also can make teeth yellow. I think there probably isn't anything you can do about this that you won't eventually regret having done.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:20 PM on February 8, 2007

How yellow is yellow? I find using baking soda on the toothbrush a couple times a week plus the occasional soak in a toothbrush-load of hydrogen peroxide (say 30seconds or so) makes a vast difference. What I thought were yucky yellowish teeth have since the peroxide sometimes been admired as "nice white teeth."
disclaimer: fashion cluebie here.
posted by Listener at 7:38 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I just had the laser treatment back in Decemeber for $200 USD. It was OK, it didnt bring me to unnatural white, but it was noticable (though I dont smile that much anyways).
posted by SirOmega at 7:50 PM on February 8, 2007

I've heard that your teeth should never be whiter than the whites of your eyes. Teeth shouldn't be too white - that looks really unnatural. Teeth whitening done at a dentist's office is really expensive, and it just strips teeth of enamel. It also isn't a permanent solution, and any future stains will just look even worse.

Try to brush or at least rinse your mouth with water after drinking soda - that might help a little.
posted by eggplantia5 at 8:03 PM on February 8, 2007

If you had a really high fever as an infant, your teeth will never really be as white as others. They'll always have that dingy look... I'm not sure if any whitening will fix the problem... YMMV
posted by bach at 8:12 PM on February 8, 2007

I'd have to dispute the high fever theory - both my husband and I had prolonged fever illnesses as toddlers and neither of us have dingy teeth.

An electric toothbrush won't dramatically whiten your teeth, but it will make a difference if used regularly. (At least, it does for me. My teeth are basically white, but are whiter if I use the electric brush.)
posted by Zosia Blue at 9:25 PM on February 8, 2007

Previous threads about tooth-whitening.
posted by mediareport at 11:15 PM on February 8, 2007

I'm in a similiar boat having been given tetracycline as a newborn. I can't really complain as the alternative would have been a slight case of death...

The bad news for you is that there really is no way to whiten your teeth short of veneers as your teeth are pretty much stained through: there's no surface stuff to come off like with lesser forms of teeth stains, so teeth whiteners, electric toothbrushes and pretty much anything you care to think of won't work.

The good news is that provided you keep your teeth clean and they're relatively straight people don't tend to notice.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 12:05 AM on February 9, 2007

By the way, this strikes me as something of a silly question to anonymize: unless you've got bigger problems and you've got bright yellow teeth or something like that the kind of antibiotic stained teeth I think you're talking about really aren't that noticably bad to other people (though they may seem that way to you).

Believe me, I've asked!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 12:08 AM on February 9, 2007

ditto on what frizelli said. i have the same problem as you. my dentist tells me that some people just have a darker enamel color than others - not due to unclean teeth. though i'm sure enviromental factors play into it.

i've learned to just deal with it. anyway, that's not help. just sympathizing with you. i also think that idea of 'white teeth' has been a bit skewed by photoshopped adverts. in any case, ive found tooth color doesn't vary so much from person to person. hmm, hope you find something that works.
posted by apfel at 7:47 AM on February 9, 2007

I've always been paranoid about my teeth being slightly yellow, to the point of not really smiling properly. I smoke occasionally and drink red wine but they were that way since I was a kid. Both antibiotics and water fluoridation as a child have been cited as reasons.

BUT, having given up diet coke 6 months ago, my teeth have changed colour. Now, they're not white, but they are definitely less yellow, to the point where I'm actually confident smiling properly for the first time in 20 years. It wasn't the reason I gave up caffeine, and I'm not suggesting it's a wonder cure, but it has definitely made a pleasantly surprising difference!

I'm still considering veneers though...
posted by finding.perdita at 4:28 PM on February 9, 2007

posted by madstop1 at 5:04 PM on February 9, 2007


You're not alone. I seem to recall from a long time ago that my dentist said that my enamel was just kinda yellow and that nothing could really be done. I don't really notice it until I smile in a photo with people that whiten their teeth. I wouldn't really sweat it. It's not that noticeable.
posted by SurfingFinnegansWake at 8:03 PM on February 6, 2008

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