What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening, or teeth bleaching, is a popular cosmetic dental procedure aimed to erase discoloration of your teeth, resulting in that coveted sparkly white smile. There are multiple teeth whitening options for both in-office and at-home treatment. Talk with your local dentist to find the best teeth whitening procedure for you!
Why get teeth whitening?
When do you need teeth whitening? Teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic procedure, and therefore is completely determined by the patient. Our society places a high value on a bright smile, and as such we all tend to desire whiter teeth. Professional teeth whitening is a great option for those who are looking to whiten their teeth long-term. If you have discolored, yellow teeth, or simply are wanting to lighten the color of your teeth and brighten your smile, talk to your dentist about what teeth whitening procedure would work best for your dental needs.
What causes teeth to become discolored?
Teeth can become yellowed or discolored due to our lifestyle habits, or naturally as we age. Each tooth is enclosed in an outer layer called enamel, a hard, mineralized layer that protects your teeth. While enamel can vary in color and thickness, it is still a relatively thin coating, and therefore is only partially responsible for the coloring of your teeth. Your enamel displays different colors and shine in relation to its thickness and smoothness, due to its light-scattering characteristic. The layer underneath the enamel is called dentin, and it also determines the coloring of your teeth. The thinner the enamel, the more visible the underlying dentin is. As dentin is much yellower in shade, the thickness of enamel plays a large role in the overall color of your teeth. Due to pores located in the enamel, enamel can become stained over time. Additionally, your teeth form a daily coating of a protein film called pellicle, which acts as a buffer against acids. This film can also pick up stains, causing your teeth to look slightly discolored.
One of the best ways to maintain a whiter smile is to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day will help to remove any stains acquired by the pellicle. Daily brushing and flossing will also prevent cavities, which cause discoloration, especially as they worsen. The following things will cause further teeth discoloration:
- Coffee, tea, red wine, and carbonated drinks
- Chewing tobacco
- Dental trauma
- Certain medications under certain conditions
- Certain dark-colored foods, like soy sauce or berries
- Foods that tend to stain, like curry
Teeth Whitening Procedure
How does teeth whitening work? While a relatively simple procedure, it is one that is best performed by a dental professional. If you decide that teeth whitening is for you, set up a consultation with your dentist. At this appointment, your dentist will determine if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening. If you have any cavities, these will have to be filled before proceeding with the treatment. Once your dental X-rays have been examined and approved, your dentist will discuss your treatment plan options to determine your best course of action. One option is in-office bleaching. Here a protective shield or gel is applied to your gums, so that the dentist may then apply bleach to your teeth. A laser teeth whitening technique can also be used here to speed up the reaction of the whitening product. This procedure can often be completed in a single day.
Another possibility is teeth whitening trays. At your appointment, your dentist will fit you for a custom tray, somewhat like the fitting process of a mouth guard. With this option, the patient takes the trays home, and per the dentist’s instructions, placing the bleaching solution into the teeth whitening trays and then wears the trays for around 30 to 60 minutes. Your dentist will most likely recommend using these trays for between 2 – 4 weeks.
Talk with your local dentist to see which dental whitening treatment is right for you!
Teeth whitening at home
Do home teeth whitening kits really work? The short answer is – sometimes. The effectiveness of these kits is based off of the ingredients in the whitening agent, and the percentage of the active ingredient (usually peroxide). Often home whitening kits contain less of the whitening agent, and therefore are not as effective. They also may be formulated with a cheaper version of the whitening agent, and as such may very well be too acidic for your teeth. Home whitening includes options like teeth whitening strips, teeth whitening toothpaste, teeth whitening pen, and teeth whitening charcoal. Talk with your dentist to see if any of these products may work for you.
How long will my teeth stay white?
With proper dental hygiene and maintenance, you can expect to retain your whitened teeth for up to three years after your professional teeth whitening procedure.
Side effects of teeth whitening
Teeth whitening is a very safe procedure, and the majority of patients will leave the dental office sporting a million-dollar-smile with no side effects. However, on occasion, teeth whitening (both at home and professional) may cause teeth sensitivity and sore gums. This is often aggravated by cold or sweet things. If you are having tooth sensitivity after a teeth whitening procedure, avoid eating or drinking these things until the sensitivity has faded. If you have been suffering for a longer period, please contact your dentist to discuss your concerns and conditions with them.
Note: If you have had root canals at any point, these teeth will require a special type of teeth whitening treatment called non-vital whitening. Since there are no live nerves in these teeth, they may be whitened from the inside out. Your regular teeth will receive a vital whitening treatment, which will be applied to the surface of your teeth.
Contact your local dentist and inquire about their teeth whitening options! Here at Diamond Dental, we pride ourselves in delivering top-rated services to our patients in the Toronto area. Contact us here to begin your teeth whitening journey!
Did you know?
- A survey done by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry discovered that, when asked what they thought would most improve their smile, the majority of people said, “a whiter smile.”
- Enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance in the human body!
- Your body does not replace enamel, as it contains no living cells, so be sure to take extra good care of yours!