What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a procedure that lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look. Most dentists perform professional teeth whitening, but there are also many at-home teeth whitening kits available.
Professional teeth whitening uses a stronger bleaching agent than over-the-counter products do. Your dentist will apply the whitening product to your teeth and leave it on for a set amount of time. The treatment may be repeated several times until the desired shade of white is achieved.
At-home teeth whitening kits use a lower concentration of bleaching agents than professional treatments do. However, they can still be very effective at removing surface stains. These kits usually come with trays that you fill with a gel-like whitening solution and then place over your teeth. You wear the tray for a certain amount of time each day or overnight for several days or weeks.
Both types of teeth whitening are safe when done correctly. However, it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging your teeth and gums.
If you’re considering teeth whitening, talk to your dentist first to see if it’s right for you. They can help you choose the right method and give you tips on how to maintain your results.
Source: What ingredients are used in teeth whitening?
The active ingredient in professional whitening gels is carbamide peroxide, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea when applied to the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter tooth whiteners. At-home bleaching kits contain about 10% to 20% carbamide peroxide, while professional treatments can contain up to 40%.
Professional whitening gels are formulated with glycerine to help minimize sensitivity. Some at-home products also contain fluoride or calcium to strengthen the teeth and prevent cavities.
Most dentists use custom-made trays for at-home treatments. These trays are made of flexible plastic and fit snugly over the teeth. A dentist will take an impression of your teeth and then make the trays based on that model. Trays usually need to be worn daily for 30 minutes to an hour over a period of several weeks.
Over-the-counter whitening strips are thin strips of plastic coated with the whitening gel. They are placed directly on the teeth and left in place for a set amount of time. Strips can be less effective than custom trays because the gel tends to leak out.
Both types of home-whitening systems require multiple applications to achieve the desired results.
Your dentist may also recommend an in-office treatment called chairside bleaching. In this procedure, the dentist applies either a protective gel to the gums or a rubber shield to protect the oral soft tissues. Bleach is then applied to the teeth.
How does teeth whitening work?
The whitening process uses a peroxide-based gel that is applied to your teeth, and a special light is used to activate the gel. This treatment can lighten teeth up to ten shades in as little as one hour!
Our dentist will first examine your smile to determine if you can benefit from teeth whitening. If you have severe stains or discolorations, we may recommend an alternative treatment. However, most patients are candidates for this cosmetic procedure.
During your consultation, we will also discuss any habits you may have that contribute to tooth staining. For example, if you drink coffee, tea, or wine, these beverages may stain your teeth over time. If you smoke or use tobacco products, your teeth may become discolored as well. By avoiding these habits, you can maintain your bright smile after undergoing professional teeth whitening.
If you are interested in teeth whitening, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with our dentist. We look forward to helping you achieve a bright, white smile!
What are the side effects of teeth whitening?
Some patients experience tooth sensitivity during the treatment. These symptoms are usually temporary and should lessen once the treatment is complete.
Other side effects include gum irritation, sore throat, or discomfort in the gums, lips, tongue, or cheeks. If any of these side effects persist for more than a day or two, contact your dentist.
The dentist may advise you to avoid certain foods or beverages for a few days after the procedure to prevent staining of your teeth.
Your dentist may also recommend brushing with a whitening toothpaste for a few days after the treatment to help maintain your results.
You may notice some increased sensitivity to cold after the procedure. This is normal and will diminish with time.
If you experience any unusual symptoms, such as increased tooth sensitivity, pain, or sores in or around your mouth, contact your dentist immediately.