After seeing endless toothpaste ads and dentistry office posters of patients flashing their pearly whites, we tend to associate great-looking teeth with a healthy mouth. However, according to Ben Aktins of the Oral Health Foundation, straight, white teeth aren’t necessarily healthy.
“The natural color of teeth is actually more of a cream color, due to the dentine beneath the enamel,” he explains. “And while crooked teeth may be harder to clean, yellow teeth aren’t necessarily uncared-for teeth. Skin tone can make a lot of difference to perceptions, too. Your teeth can appear much whiter when you have darker skin, but they may not actually be that white.”
A recent joint study by the University of London and Harvard showed the average American is missing more teeth than someone in the UK where low-cost or free dental care is more accessible and oral health is more important than cosmetics.
That said, there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting whiter teeth, as long as you go about it intelligently. Tooth bleaching can make teeth temporarily sensitive, especially if your teeth are sensitive to begin with. And, used incorrectly, home kits can also lead to bleached or even burned gums, so leave it to a professional. As Atkins says, “Whitening has no detrimental effect so long as it’s done by a qualified dentist.”
More the reason to consider dental coverage from your association and AMBA. Our quality plans cover regular exams and cleanings and could save you thousands on expensive procedures.
So even if you don’t end up in a fashion magazine, you’ll have plenty to smile about.