Tooth Whitening: A 101 Guide

Tips, Information and Tricks Offered by Chestnut Hills Dental, Triangle Family Dentistry and Burkhart Dental

Look in the mirror and you think,” hmm, I might need to get  my teeth whitened.” you are tired of looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing  that definite sign of aging. you shy away from the cameras, and even though your teeth are healthy you still feel embarrassed by them. it may be time to consider teeth whitening. but what process do you want to use? does home-based teeth whitening work as well as dental office whitening? These are the questions we want to address in this article. so we turn to our Associates at Chestnut Hills Dental, Triangle Family Dentistry and Burkhart Dental.


What Is It? Burkhart Dental Answers This Question

What you need is a process that light color and helps remove stains and discoloration caused by age food and genetics. Whitening is popular because it improves the way your teeth look. You can go into almost any clinic to find this service, however, a professional dental teeth whitening process needs to be repeated once in awhile so your teeth maintain that brighter color.


What Makes Me Need a Teeth Whitening Process?

Teeth whitening is often recommended to adults because the outer tooth enamel changes and stains over time. Tooth color comes from the reflection of light off of the enamel combined with the natural color of the dentin inside the tooth. your genes also affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel and people who have thinner enamel will have more of the dentin showing through the enamel, suggest the experts at Triangle Family Dentistry.

Slowly, over time a thin coating forms on the enamel and picks up stains from foods, acids and drinks. It is this that causes the staining. The following are the most common reasons for yellowing or stained teeth:

  • Tobacco
  • Coffee, soda, red wine, tea, white wine. 
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Aging


Some people also have stains that happen inside the dentin. These are known as intrinsic stains. These are caused by being exposed to too much fluoride when teeth are developing. However, this problem can also occur when children are exposed to tetracycline antibiotics during the mother’s pregnancy. Trauma is another cause of darkening tooth stains.

Stains can also occur because of tooth trauma. The truth is that there are many different reasons for tooth staining. But it can be reversed, or improved with professional bleaching processes performed by dental offices across America, say experts at Triangle Family Dentistry. 

How It’s Done?

There are two main types of whitening procedures.One of the procedures is performed on teeth with live nerves and the other is done on a tooth that has had a root canal treatment and no longer has a live nerve.


Dental Whitening

The most common type of whitening is a process where the dentist applies a type of paste or gel that contains hydrogen peroxide, suggest the experts at Triangle Family Dental. 

While in the office, your dentist will apply a bleach solution to your teeth. This bleach adheres to the stains, including those in the crevices of  your teeth. He  will leave the solution on your teeth for approximately 30 minutes to an hour depending on the method he uses.

When dealing with  stains on nonliving teeth, the bleach is placed inside the tooth.  The bleaching process works best on yellow stains and sometimes even brown stains, but may not work on gray stains. Note:  Bonding materials and fillings cannot be bleached. Consider this when thinking about how these will look with your natural teeth. Be sure to ask your dentist if there will be a difference between the whitened natural teeth and any dental appliances or bonding that you already have.


Is Whitening Safe for My Teeth? Triangle Family Dentistry Gives Us Answers


The team at Triangle assured us that whitening is safe, stating the chemicals used do not attack the tooth structure.  They showed us the many studies which support the evidence of safety from this whitening process. Triangle did tell us that some patients will experience temporary side effects such as tooth sensitivity. Your dentist will take precautions to protect your tooth roots and minimize possible sensitivity. 


What Type of Bleach is Used?

The team at Burkhart Dental tells us that the most conventional bleach used by dentists contain hydrogen peroxide because it can also be left on the teeth for longer periods with less risk of sensitivity. 

Where Do I Get a Tooth Whitening Process Applied?  Chestnut Hills Dental Answers This Question

You can get a whitening process for you to do at home or you can visit your dentist for a professional in office whitening.  A whitening process performed in the clinic offers a more effective solution with special products and a laser light that activates the gel and allows bleaching to happen faster. It usually takes about 90 minutes to complete a bleaching process. This may need to be repeated once or twice depending on the color of  your teeth. 



Professional In-Home Whitening Process

This  process is supervised by your dentist say the professionals at Chestnut Hills Dental. It is not an over the counter product you can buy at any drugstore.  The dentist takes special molds or impressions of your teeth to make a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth.  Once you have the mouth pieces, you fill each with a special whitening gel and  wear it for several hours during the day. With this process, you can expect to see brighter and whiter teeth within a couple of weeks. 




Dental Problems that Can Affect Success

Gentle Dental Portland suggests that you address tooth problems before you worry about whitening. For example, cavities need to be treated, gum disease and recession needs to be seen to because these things also make your teeth look older and discolored. Plus, whitening makes your teeth sensitive, so you need to take care of dental issues before you get a whitening process done. 

When your dentist does an in-office whitening process, he will first take a picture of your teeth. This allows him to monitor the progress of the treatment. Your dentist also will examine your teeth and ask you questions to find out what caused the staining. Next, the dentist or a dental hygienist will clean your teeth. This will remove the film of bacteria, food and other substances that build up on your teeth and contribute to the staining. Once this is done, the whitening procedure begins.

Non-Vital Whitening

The dentists at Chestnut Hills Dental tell us that the normal whitening process does not lighten a tooth with root canal treatment. In this case, the stain is on the inside of the tooth, and your dentist needs to do something else to whiten this tooth. In this case, the dentist uses a special whitening agent inside the tooth and leaves it like this for a few days before removing it.  


What Has Happened to My Gums?

Is Whitening Permanent? Gentle Dental Portland Gives Us Answers

Your newly whitened teeth can stain again. Whitening does not offer a permanent solution because your teeth can stain again with foods, tobacco use, and poor oral hygiene. At some point, you may want to get the process done again in about a year after the initial process. You can re-whiten again n the dental clinic or using a whitening product at home. Talk to your dentist to find the product that works best for you.



Are There Risks To My Teeth?: Triangle Family Dentistry Gives Us Answers

Whitening does not have serious side effects, although your teeth might be more sensitive for a few weeks afterward. You might also feel slight irritation in your gums. Women need to be careful when pregnant and should probably avoid this process during this time. 

I’ve Heard of Laser Teeth Whitening, Is This a Better Process

Different dentists use different whitening processes. If you are looking specifically for laser whitening, you need to ask your dentist if this is the process he uses. Laser whitening can be very effective, but the treatment is not for everyone, so you will need to ask your dentist if this is a process that will work for you.  


Laser Procedure

This is a process only offered by certain dentists, and it is the most expensive type of whitening available today. The dentist applies a bleaching gel to your teeth and then uses a laser to enhance the effectiveness of the gel. This speeds up the whitening process. According to Triangle Family Dentistry, the dentist uses a hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel which has high concentrations of the bleaching agent. Before the procedure, he takes special precautions to reduce tooth sensitivity, and protect other parts of the mouth from being damaged. 


What Should I Keep in Mind?

You can expect the in-office laser whitening to take about an hour. It will be slightly more expensive than other types of whitening processes because it offers a faster whitening of the teeth and requires fewer follow-up treatments. Not everyone is a candidate for this procedure and a dental exam is necessary before being considered. You should not expect this process to be covered by your insurance provider because it is simply a cosmetic procedure and not  one that is vital to your health. 


Bottom Line

A teeth whitening process can make you look younger and make you feel better about your smile. It is not a substitute for good oral hygiene and you will still need to make your twice yearly dental check ups. However, teeth whitening can function like a face lift in that it makes you look younger and healthier.

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