Tooth Whitening


Tooth Whitening

Teeth whitening is very popular today. People around you will notice your white teeth and it makes your smile stand out, letting you make a great first impression. Most people believe that a white smile makes you more appealing and increases your chances of career success. It will also make you look younger and give your self-confidence a boost when you are around other people.

Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening

Getting whiter teeth can be done in several ways. One way is to do it yourself. Although there are several ways to do this, nearly all of these methods will only whiten your teeth one or two shades. This is because the chemicals are not very strong.

Another problem with doing it yourself is that it can take weeks before you see results with some products. If you need white teeth in a hurry, say for a date or interview, you are out of luck unless you can postpone it – but is that reasonable?

  1. Get Whiter Teeth Faster

With professional teeth whitening, it is possible that you can get your teeth much whiter in just one appointment. An appointment is usually one hour to an hour-and-a-half. At most, two sessions may be necessary.

  1. Stronger Chemicals

Dentists can get and use much stronger chemicals than what you can buy in a store product. This is why they can give you white teeth much faster. 

  1. Customized Treatments

Sometimes, some colors of teeth may not be whitened as fast as other colors. The dentist can treat color problems as necessary – which you cannot do with store-bought products.

  1. Safer Treatments

With some over-the-counter products, it is possible to burn your gums if the product is not used correctly. This can leave them sore when eating or drinking. When done by a professional, care is given to cover and protect your gums.

The Difference Between Teeth Whitening and Teeth Bleaching

If you are confused about the difference between teeth whitening and teeth bleaching, you are not the only one. It confuses many people. What makes it worse is that the terms are sometimes used indiscriminately to refer to the same process.

The difference is rather subtle, but how your teeth look after each process will be different. Teeth whitening is the process the dentist uses to restore your teeth to their natural color. This is done by eliminating the stains on the teeth, which has caused them to turn more yellow and darker. It can also remove stains caused by such things as cigarette smoke, dyes from dark drinks, etc.

Teeth bleaching takes a different approach. Its goal is to make your teeth look whiter than natural. This process not only removes the stains but it also makes them whiter than they are naturally. This process will give you the whitest teeth.

Preparation Needed for Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening involves considerably more than just walking into a dentist’s office and sitting down for the procedure. The first thing that you need to do is to get an evaluation. During the evaluation, the dentist may tell you about some steps you need to take first and will also inform you about what to expect in the way of results.

  • Tooth Repair

The next step will be to start getting your teeth repaired – if there are problems. You will need to get cavities filled, teeth roots covered, possibly crowns. The reason for all this is that the goal of teeth whitening is to make your teeth look their best. A dental crown may be needed if you have a damaged tooth, or if a metallic gray is showing through the tooth because it has a large amalgam filling in it.

  • Teeth Cleaning

After taking care of any dental problems, the next step is to get teeth cleaning. This ensures that the chemicals used will whiten the entire tooth. If you have plaque, tartar, or food particles at the gum line, your teeth will not be uniformly white. Since you cannot remove tartar yourself, the dentist needs to do it for you. 

If you have sensitive teeth, you will want to use desensitizing toothpaste before getting teeth whitening. This process can make teeth more sensitive for about a week. Using the toothpaste for about two weeks before the procedure will help them to be desensitized to the chemicals and heat the whitening products produce. You will also want to use it after the procedure for at least a week.

The Process Involved in Teeth Whitening

Several steps are involved in the teeth whitening process. They include:

  1. Get initial color check

At the start of the teeth whitening procedure, the dentist will first make a comparison of your tooth color. When the process is completed, the color will again be taken so that you can see the difference. 

  1. Protect the gums

When you are ready for the whitening process, your gums will first be covered with a gel or a rubber shield. This is necessary to protect your gums from the stronger chemicals the dentist uses. Without it, your gums would be burned where the chemical touches them. The key ingredients that whiten your teeth are usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The dentist will also use retractors to keep your inner cheeks, lips, and tongue away from the chemicals. 

  1. Apply whitening gel

A whitening solution will then be applied to the front portions of your teeth. It may be applied in a tray like a mouthguard or brushed on. After about 15 or 30 minutes, the gel may be washed off and new gel applied. It will also be left on your teeth for 15 to 30 minutes. It may be repeated if necessary for a brighter white. 

  1. Activate gel with a light

Some chemicals require a special light to activate them. It may be a laser or a bright blue light. When finished, you will rinse your mouth with water to remove the chemicals. The new color will be checked. 

The process involved in giving you whiter teeth may need more than one appointment. If your teeth are more or less already uniformly white, then it can be completed in one session. It will depend on what process the dentist uses and the type of stains that are on your teeth. An option to returning to the dentist’s office is that you may be given some take-home trays and chemicals to complete it at home.

Laser Teeth Whitening

This process is similar to the above steps. Special chemicals are used that will be activated by the laser light. Once the gum protection has been applied, it hardens to become like rubber. 

The chemical is applied to the front of your teeth. After a few minutes, the dentist will take a pen-type laser and shine it on the compound. It will start to foam some and this will remove the stains. When completed, the dentist will use a vacuum tool to suction off the chemicals. You will rinse your mouth out with water and the dentist will remove the protective layer.

The advantages of laser teeth whitening are that it is a much faster process. Your teeth can be made up to eight times whiter in a single session. Be aware that some teeth colors may not be whitened as easily.

Whitening Your Teeth at Home

If you are looking to get your teeth whiter than store-bought products can give you, but cannot afford the cost of in-office whitening, there is another solution. You can save money by going to the dentist and getting the chemicals and trays you need to do it at home. 

The dentist will need to examine your teeth to ensure that you can use it. Once approved, the dentist will need time to make a custom-made tray that you can use at home. This ensures that the chemicals will uniformly whiten your teeth. 

After providing you with the instructions you need, the dentist will give you the chemicals and trays you need to do it at home. The chemicals are not as strong as you would get in the office, but they are stronger than you can buy in a store. The slightly weaker strength means that it will take a little longer – possibly several applications and a couple of weeks before you get good results.

Potential Problems with Teeth Whitening

Everyone wants white teeth. Teeth bleaching and tooth whitening can do wonders for your teeth, but not every tooth can get fantastic results. Some colors will not whiten as much as others and some may hardly whiten at all. 

Teeth that are yellow will get the best results. When teeth are brown, the whitening effect is not apt to be as good. Teeth whitening is not likely going to have any effect on gray teeth. Gray teeth are often the result of the color of a metal filling showing through the tooth. 

There also will not be any effect on artificial teeth. This includes caps and crowns, dental veneers, and fillings. If your teeth are discolored because of medications or an injury to a tooth, they also will not change much in color, unless you have several repeated tooth whitening procedures. 

For stubborn teeth, it may be a better solution to have other dental work performed on them. This would include dental veneers, crowns, and tooth-colored filling. Dental work using composite resin will stain rather easily and it cannot be whitened. The only option is to replace the filling, crown, or use another tooth repair method.

Why Your Teeth Change Color

Your tooth enamel is not as solid as it looks. If looked at under a powerful microscope, you would see that it has many tiny holes in it that runs to the interior of the tooth. Some of the dyes and food coloring from the food you eat or drink gets trapped in the enamel. Over time, it produces the yellowing effect that you see. 

Another cause is a thinning of the tooth enamel from tooth brushing. Under the tooth enamel is a layer called dentin. This layer is a darker yellow and when the enamel becomes thinner, your teeth become more yellow. Thinning of the enamel is also why aging will normally result in yellower teeth. 

Because of the dyes and colors in some foods, eating or drinking them will have a stronger effect on the color of your teeth. Besides smoking, your teeth are apt to become yellower faster if you eat or drink:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Dark-colored soda
  • Foods with dyes

Besides the above items, you also need to watch for foods and drinks that contain acid. The bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities produce acid. When you add to that acid the acid found in sodas and fruit juice and sports drinks, you can speed up the erosion of your tooth enamel – which does not grow back.

How to Keep Your Teeth White

Because the yellowing of your teeth is a natural occurrence that you cannot avoid, you may need to have occasional touch-up work conducted at the dentist’s office. To keep your teeth looking their whitest, this should probably be done about every six months to a year. 

Keeping your teeth white longer is not difficult. It needs to involve:

  • Brushing twice a day – for best results, brush for at least two minutes each time.
  • Brush immediately after eating or drinking foods known to stain teeth. 
  • Floss – this gets the food particles out from between your teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth out with water – do this after eating and especially after you drink liquids with acid or sugar in them.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day – this will reduce the harmful bacteria that produce acid.
  • Use teeth whitening toothpaste one or two times a week. 
  • Stop smoking.

When you want whiter teeth and are ready to consider professional teeth whitening, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, and a teeth whitening dentist, can help you. He provides tooth whitening and laser teeth whitening in his Champion Dental office in Farmers Branch, TX. Most dental insurance plans are accepted. To set up a consultation or to get more information about the professional whitening procedure, you can contact his office at (214) 747-0763.

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