5 Essential Things to Know About Teeth Whitening

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry conducted a survey and asked people what they wanted to improve about their smile and a great majority of the responders answered that they wanted whiter teeth.

If you are thinking of getting your teeth whitened too, then you better read up first. There are several things that you need to know before scheduling an appointment with your dentist. Before shelling out your hard-earned money for this oftentimes expensive procedure, here are some essential things to understand:

1. Why Teeth Changes Color

Teeth starts to change color as you age because of several factors. The hard enamel of your teeth gets thinner when you get older and the softer dentin, which has a more yellowish tone, becomes more apparent.

Foods that have intense color pigments called chromogems can attach to the enamel and stain your teeth. Some teeth-staining food includes coffee, tea and red wine. Nicotine and tar, which are found in cigarettes, badly stain teeth and damage gums over time.

There are also certain medications like some antihistamines and antipsychotics that have a side effect of darkened teeth. Some radiation-powered procedures like chemotherapy can also affect the color of teeth. Children who have taken antibiotics as a baby are also susceptible to getting darker teeth when they become adults.

2. How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening is usually done in several visits, which can be done in around three weeks but there are some procedures that can be done in just a couple of visits. The dentist uses a special kind of bleach that is able to break teeth stain and makes teeth brighter. The chemical is activated with laser technology and the result is pearly whites that can be up to six shades lighter.

3. This Might Not Work on All Teeth

Unfortunately, not all discolored teeth can be whitened through the bleaching process. While yellowing teeth can be easily corrected, brown and gray teeth may not respond very well to whitening. It also won’t work on veneers, crowns and fillings or if discoloration is caused by medications.

4. Whitening Options

Not all can go through this procedure. Your teeth also need to be healthy first before you get them whitened. If your dentist gives you the thumbs up, here are some of the options you can do:

  • In-office bleaching– This simple procedure, also called chairside bleaching, requires anywhere from one to multiple visits to the dentist’s office. After scheduling an appointment from the dentist, your mouth will be assessed before the actual bleaching is done. Your dentist might need to do several applications, depending on the severity of the teeth discoloration.
  • At-home bleaching – If you are more comfortable doing this at home, the dentist can also give you a custom-made kit that you can apply on yourself. This is a cheaper option and might also take a couple of weeks of re-application.
  • Over-the-counter products – There are countless of whitening options you can buy over the counter at your local grocery store. However, these won’t give the best results because their concentration is a lot lower than what the dentist’s use. If you are considering this option, look for a product that is ADA-approved.
  • Stain removal toothpastes – Whitening toothpastes help remove only the surface stain of the teeth but will not completely whiten them. However, these are a lot safer because they are gentler on the enamel.

5. Side Effects of Whitening

While the bleaching agents and the technology used today are perfectly safe, some people may still experience side effects. Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common immediate side effects of bleaching but this usually goes away after awhile.

To make sure you are doing it right, it is always best to have a pro take care of teeth whitening for you. Teeth whitening done at the dentist office also gives the best and longer-lasting results.

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