How Bright Should You Whiten Your Teeth?

How White Should You Whiten Your Teeth_

One of the easiest ways to improve the look of your smile is to have your teeth professionally whitened by a cosmetic dentist. In fact, teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure. When people think of having their teeth whitened, they often picture leaving their dentist’s office with perfectly white teeth. Contrary to popular belief, however, perfectly white teeth are not always the most aesthetic. 

While the phrase “teeth whitening” implies that white teeth is the ultimate goal, teeth whitening procedures actually improve the look of your smile by removing stains and lightening the color of your teeth. The end result may or may not be white, nevertheless brightening your smile by 2-3 shades can create a subtle improvement in your smile’s appearance. 

When you are considering how bright to whiten your teeth, keep in mind that teeth are not naturally white. Only children with primary teeth have naturally white teeth due to the fact that their teeth are highly calcified and have a thin dentin layer. Permanent teeth, on the other hand have a thicker dentin layer that is yellow in color. As we age, this yellow color gradually darkens over time. Although the dentin is the middle layer of the tooth, its coloring can be seen through the translucent enamel. 

shade guide showing natural tooth color

In addition to your teeth being partially affected by the color of the dentin layer, teeth are also “colored” according to genetics. Using a dental shade guide, you can determine your natural tooth color. There are four different color possibilities: (A) reddish brown, (B) reddish yellow, (C) gray, and (D) reddish gray. Generally speaking, the natural color of teeth is considered to be A3, which means that a slight reddish brown tint is normal. 

pretty blonde smiling

To put things into perspective, B1 is the closest your teeth can come to being naturally white. B1 is significantly lighter than A3, however. Depending on your natural tooth color, something you will want to take into account is your treatment goals. For example, do you want your teeth to be white, natural-looking, or brighter and natural-looking. In most cases, cosmetic dentists recommend picking a shade that is no whiter than the whites of your eyes. This can help you decide how bright to whiten your smile. 

Additionally you will also want to consider whether you have dental restorations or dark stains on your teeth. Dental restorations will not be whitened with the rest of your teeth, and dark stains may or may not be entirely eliminated. In these cases, dramatically brightening your smile can actually make restorations and dark stains stand out. Therefore, it may be better to pick a shade that is not too light in order to complement the color of the restoration. For dark stains that are resistant to whitening treatments, veneers can be used to cover these stains. 

As a final note, keep in mind that once you whiten your teeth, they will remain bright for about a year depending on the type of whitening treatment used. One common thing most people forget is that it is possible to whiten your teeth too much. Teeth that are too white may not look natural or visually appealing, and cannot be easily faded. Therefore, it is better to whiten your teeth gradually to guarantee the best results. 

Dr. Sadati standing in his practice

Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry.  He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.