Teeth whitening is one of the easiest and most popular ways to spruce up your smile. It falls under the category of cosmetic dentistry, which is often seen as a costly investment. Teeth whitening, though, is one of the cheapest ways you can make vast improvements to your smile.
Teeth whitening can help in getting rid of stubborn tooth stains caused by foods like coffee or wine, medication, decolorization of non-vital teeth, etc. It also helps in lightening tooth shade by several degrees, depending on the method used for the teeth whitening procedure. Broadly speaking, teeth whitening can be done either professionally or at home. A dentist does professional teeth whitening at the dental office. One can also make use of at-home teeth whitening products to improve upon the appearance of your smile.
Teeth Whitening Methods
In-office Teeth Whitening:
Professional teeth whitening involves the use of bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This type of dental bleach comes in gel form, which is applied onto the tooth surface by the dentist. The gel is then activated with the help of curing lights like LED, UV, or lasers, curing the bleaching gel quickens up the whitening process.
Sometimes, the dentist might fabricate custom-made bleaching trays for the patient that can be used at home. The bleaching gel is placed onto the trays and worn by the patient at home for a few hours each day, for a given number of weeks. While this also falls under the category of professional teeth whitening, this type takes longer to show desired results compared to in-office bleaching techniques.
Teeth Whitening at Home:
There are a variety of over-the-counter teeth whitening products available in stores today. However, these types of products do not work as effectively as professional teeth whitening does. They take much longer to show any whitening effects, and may not be able to remove intrinsic stains from the tooth surface. The most significant advantage over-the-counter products have over professional teeth whitening is the difference in cost since in-office treatments can be considerably more expensive than at-home options.
Whitening toothpastes are the most commonly used at-home product. These toothpastes contain abrasives instead of a bleaching agent that assist in removing stains. Whitening strips contain a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, which makes them considerably more effective than whitening toothpastes. Whitening strips are applied once or twice a day for a set period of time, as instructed by the manufacturer.
How Long Before You Can See Results with Teeth Whitening?
A single in-office appointment for teeth whitening can last anywhere from 45-60 minutes. Depending on the kind of stains you have and your expectations from the procedure, your dentist might recommend 2 to 4 sittings of the teeth whitening procedure. Individuals with only slight yellowing of teeth can expect the best results after a teeth whitening procedure. Stubborn stains that have been left behind by food and medication can take longer to be removed.
Professional teeth whitening is only done on permanent and healthy teeth. Tooth-colored fillings and dental crowns cannot be bleached like natural teeth. Non-vital teeth that have become discolored over time do not respond to conventional teeth whitening procedures. Thus, here the bleaching agent is placed inside the pulp chamber of the tooth and sealed. It is removed after a couple of weeks when the desired shade of the tooth has been achieved.
The results from a teeth whitening procedure do not last forever. Maintaining your bright smile requires repeat sittings every few months. It is also advised to refrain from over-consumption of stain-producing foods that can harm the results of your teeth whitening procedure.