Teeth whitening: what is it and what are my options?

Smiling woman shows effect of teeth whitening treatment

Tooth whitening brightens the color of your teeth through lightening to remove discoloration from the surface of your teeth. Who doesn’t want a bright, pearly white smile? Of course, it’s a popular cosmetic dentistry procedure, but it isn’t a one-time procedure. Though there are many ways to do it, the overall process of teeth whitening is essentially the same.

It’s easier now than ever to whiten your teeth and brighten your smile. The more popularity teeth whitening gains, the more methods and products to whiten your teeth will be introduced to the market. That means now is more important than ever to make sure you’re aware of the pros and cons of teeth whitening and the associated methods to do it!

But firstly, why is it our teeth begin to turn yellow?

Here’s why our teeth become yellow

It’s often a combination of reasons that your teeth begin to yellow over time. The consumption of certain substances (coffee, wine, and tobacco) can harm your teeth and your enamel, staining and adding to the discoloration of your teeth with consistent use.

Even though most of us begin life with white teeth, over time the tooth enamel begins to wear down to reveal the yellow-colored dentin beneath the enamel surface. Enamel wears down to become transparent, which is what generates that ever-yellowing appearance. Additionally, plaque buildup can contribute to the yellowing of teeth.

Whitening your teeth includes a process removing the debris and stains from your teeth, in turn restoring the brightest of white to the dullest of teeth.

What to know before you whiten your teeth

It’s important to consider the health of your teeth prior to whitening or trying any kind of whitening product. Consider this: if a wall in your home had cracks in it, you wouldn’t paint directly over them, would you? Of course you wouldn’t; if your wall had cracks in it, you’d patch them before painting. The same principle applies to your teeth.

Whitening your teeth if you have other oral hygiene issues or more severe dental needs such as cavities, crooked teeth, gum recession, or even gum disease can be a waste. It’s likely the whitening treatment wouldn’t stick!

Your teeth whitening options

At-home bleaching kits or whitening strips purchased over-the-counter aren’t a sure thing. Because some products include bleach and other chemicals, there are many “natural” at-home teeth whitening kits, procedures, or tricks such as oil pulling and brushing your teeth with baking soda. However, you can’t quite predict the results because not all teeth are the same – especially among different people.

If you’re electing to do a teeth whitening procedure, you have options.

In-Office Treatments

The results from a professional teeth whitening treatment, either at home or in the office, are far superior compared to the results from an at-home over-the-counter kit.

For immediate results, whitening procedures can be scheduled through our office. This procedure takes approximately an hour at the All Smiles Care office, but even in such short time, you’ll leave with your teeth looking at least 7-12 shades lighter than when you walked in the front door.

The procedure itself is simple, but it needs to be done in the office to ensure that the gel is properly placed on your teeth to avoid any potential damage to the surrounding teeth and gums.

At-Home Treatments

Not to be confused with over-the-counter teeth whitening products, our at-home whitening treatments are custom-made and the overall treatment is professionally supervised. These kits contain customized and individually tailored bleaching trays that fit your unique smile. The trays are filled with a peroxide gel that will be placed on your teeth at home, permeating your tooth enamel down to the dentin. After you begin the applications, these trays will successfully bleach your teeth.

If you’re interested in brightening your smile, talk to your dentist. Though unlikely to cause serious side effects, whitening is known to cause sensitivity and irritation to the mouth. One known risk is that women should not whiten their teeth while pregnant. Your dentist will be able to help you put together a plan to get you the pearliest whites you can have.

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About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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