Whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures, and it can be done by almost any dentist. It can greatly improve the color of your teeth, and it’s usually done more than once. Teeth are covered with enamel, which reflects light and gives teeth their brightness and color. As we get older, enamel starts to wear away, revealing the darker tissue beneath it. Teeth may also lose their coloring from coffee, smoking, wine and tea.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening can be done in one of two ways. A dentist might use bleaching or non-bleaching products. With bleaching products, the tooth coloring can get up to twelve shades brighter. Bleaching is done with products that contain peroxide, which can remove both surface and deep stains. A non-bleaching procedure involves the use of products that work by physical or chemical means, but they only remove surface stains.
People who are having their first teeth whitening receive what is known as chairside bleaching. When you start bleaching your teeth, you will have to go in for more than one procedure. A procedure lasts anywhere from a half-hour to an hour, and it consists of the dentist applying a protective gel or a rubber shield to your gums, in order to protect them against the bleaching agent. After this agent is applied, a special light can be used to enhance its action.
You can whiten your teeth yourself at home. Your dentist can recommend at-home products which contain carbamide peroxide. These products work in correlation with a mouthguard, which protects the inside of the mouth and holds the gel. This mouthguard is custom-fitted, and it is created by your dentist. Depending on the product you choose, you’ll either have to use it twice a day for 30 minutes, or for the entire night, and the treatment can last anywhere from one week to 30 days. This procedure can lighten the teeth by up to seven shades.
There are also over-the-counter products which cost a lot less, but which do not have the same impact. For less than $40 you can get products that will whiten your teeth by a shade or two. Whitening toothpastes can remove stains, thanks to abrasive ingredients that can polish your teeth. Unfortunately, they do not change the color of your teeth.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you are planning to bleach your teeth, you should first speak to a dentist and find out the best way to go about it. You should also know that if you have a lot of fillings, crowns and bridges, they will need to be replaced in order to accommodate the new color. There may be side effects. 50% of people can experience sensitivity due to a tooth whitening treatment. Bleaching is also not permanent. It should be accompanied by a change in diet, for the effects to last as long as possible.