Many people seek to have beautiful sparkling white teeth, as evidence by a quick trip down the oral care aisle in any store. Words like “Whitening Beads” and “Extreme White” are commonplace, and many brands promise a brighter, whiter smile. If you really want to get the best experience, head to your dentist’s office for a professional treatment.
Teeth become yellowed with age, certain medications, smoking, and a variety of foods and beverages. Tobacco and coffee are two of the biggest culprits behind enamel discoloration, as well as cola, tea, and red wine.
What Types of Procedures Are There?
Depending on the recommendations from your dentist, you will have two options for dental whitening: in-office procedure or at home treatments. Having your teeth whitened at the dentist’s office requires a special gel and ultra-violet light that effectively bleaches the tooth enamel. A protective material is applied to your gums and lips in order to directly target your teeth.
Treatments done at home consist of specially fitted trays containing a bleaching agent that you wear usually twice a day, either overnight or for a specified period during the day. This option typically requires two visits to the dentist to prepare, as the trays are molded from your actual teeth.
How Does Whitening Work?
The gel used for bleaching is commonly made from hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, which breaks into oxygen molecules. The oxygen penetrates the pores of the enamel and dentin, breaking up the stain particles. Stains block light from filtering through the teeth, so as they disintegrate, more light can pass through, making the teeth appear brighter.
The procedure works best on yellow or lightly browned stains that have accumulated over time. The darker the stain, the more it is embedded into the actual structure of the tooth. Depending on which method is used, results can be seen fairly quickly. The full process can take anywhere from a week to several months, subject to the severity of the original stains.
How Long Does It Last?
These treatments are not permanent, but results can last for up to three years, and possibly longer if certain preventative measures are performed to avoid re-staining. Avoiding the food and beverages that stain, as well as changing specific habits (quitting smoking, drinking from a straw), will help the procedure last longer and will require fewer touch-ups. Wedding photographers from 1840 events in Austin claim that when whitening is done with a qualified dentist, they see teeth staying white for more than a year following a wedding.
Whitening your teeth is a great way to change your smile without needing painful dental work. It may make your teeth a bit sensitive, but the sensitivity will fade as time progresses. Seeking professional dental whitening is much less risky than using over the counter products. These products can be damaging to your gums and tissues, whereas a dentist recommended treatment is safe, effective and used under the supervision of a professional. A dentist can determine if you are the right candidate for professional whitening, as it’s important to remember the procedure only whitens enamel. Other dental work, like fillings and crowns, can be repaired to match the new brighter smile, but won’t be affected in the bleaching process.