Teeth whitening is probably the most economical and least invasive cosmetic dental treatment available, yet it can make a dramatic improvement in your appearance. You have probably seen it in the smiles of friends, co-workers, and family members who have had their teeth whitened professionally. What you may not realize, however, is that having teeth whitened could provide additional benefits in terms of oral health, overall wellness, and emotional wellbeing. Dr. Ann Kelley of Kingsgate Dental in Kirkland, WA explains these concepts.
An ethical dentist will not suggest or perform cosmetic treatment until existing oral health issues have been addressed.
At Kingsgate Dental, the teeth whitening process goes something like this:
Simply put, when you begin a program of at-home whitening in Dr. Kelley’s care, you do so with the assurance that your dental condition is very good.
While teeth whitening is a cosmetic treatment, it can have secondary oral health advantages.
First, the active ingredient in a teeth whitening formulation is peroxide. It is generally a molecule comprised of two atoms of oxygen bound with two atoms of hydrogen. When activated by air, the compound oxidizes – a chemical reaction that loosens staining pigments embedded in the enamel and lifts them to the surface. Oxidation also kills oral bacteria, by disrupting their cellular structure. So, the natural antiseptic properties of whitening may reduce microbial pathogens, making your mouth cleaner and reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease caused by bacteria.
Second, most patients are quite pleased with their brighter smiles, and want to preserve the effects of whitening. They may improve their daily brushing and flossing habits, stop using tobacco, or limit consumption of beverages that stain teeth. That can give oral health a boost, and have a beneficial impact on overall wellness, too.
When you feel confident that your teeth look sparkling white, you are likely to smile more often.
Each smile triggers messages from stress-fighting neuropeptides that stimulate contentment. Additionally, smiling releases endorphins and dopamine, happiness neurotransmitters that reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure. The resulting physical relaxation can act as an organic pain reliever. Serotonin, also released each time you smile, is a natural anti-depressant. Higher levels of serotonin in the brain boost your mood and may promote learning and memory.
Smiling is infectious. People instinctively imitate a smile – even one they see in a photograph. Smiling at another person usually causes him or her to smile back, and that individual gets the emotional benefits mentioned above, as a result of your teeth whitening treatment.
Psychological studies indicate that when humans see an attractive smile, the reward region of the brain (orbitofrontal cortex) is activated. In more direct terms, we feel rewarded when we see a person with white teeth smiling. This reaction may be a holdover from our ancestors. In early cultures, white teeth were a sign of adequate food and robust health – a strong hunter/gatherer that would make a good partner or protector.
Imagine the advantages, in a career setting or social scene, of others feeling rewarded when they see your smile. In this indirect way, a small investment in teeth whitening could make a big difference in your future!
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