Is there any reason why I shouldn't try whitening my teeth?

The pre-bleaching exam may reveal a need for a particular treatment, before or even instead of bleaching. For example, there are several causes for discolouration – abscessed teeth, decay, and root canal problems, to name a few – for which bleaching will mask but not resolve the problem. There are also some aesthetic considerations, such as how much of your teeth and gums show when you smile. Typically, short teeth and a gummy smile do not look better with bleaching because whiter teeth will accentuate the gummy smile. Also, exposed tooth roots don't bleach, so if you have root exposure, your results won't be ideal. In either of these cases, you may want to consider other cosmetic options.

Can you remove plaque at home without going to the hygienist?

The soft bacterial plaque that sticks to the teeth creates the fuzzy coating we feel first thing in the morning. Brushing and flossing twice daily removes this plaque. If, however, this plaque sits for a day or more – typically due to inadequate brushing – it begins to absorb minerals and hardens into tartar, or calculus. This accumulation of plaque requires professional care from a hygienist. Visiting your hygienist twice a year is the standard recommendation, and most patients who commit to this schedule experience fewer dental problems than those who skip appointments. Since cavities and gum disease often progress without pain, missed visits to the hygienist can lead to major dental treatment or tooth loss. If you’re overdue by a year or more, be sure to schedule and get back on track.

If you have an event coming up, what’s the quickest way to improve your smile?

Moving teeth with braces takes time, but if you need a quick fix, think about the colour of your teeth – a whiter smile always makes teeth look better. If time is short, consider a speed laser treatment with your dentist, which guarantees the quickest results.

Is it worth using a mouthwash to keep your mouth extra clean?

No. Most mouthwashes on the market don’t provide as many benefits as they claim, and the high alcohol content can actually dry the mouth out, especially if you suffer from dry mouth conditions. If you enjoy the feeling of using mouthwash, use it after meals only, and always use an alcohol-free mouthwash.