What Are My Options For Teeth Whitening & How Do They Work?
How to Whiten Teeth with Cosmetic Dentistry
Teeth are often the first thing we notice when talking to someone face-to-face. And, unfortunately for many of us, this can cause insecurities if our teeth are discoloured.
With the number of various foods and drinks that cause stains, it can be hard to avoid stained teeth. But there are ways to remove both surface stains and deep stains and keep these stains away for longer. With so many options available, you can achieve that much sought-after brilliant white smile.
While there are numerous over-the-counter teeth whitening methods, you likely won’t get the desired results than if you were to opt for professional services. Professional teeth whitening results in whiter, brighter teeth. Your dentist can remove both surface stains and stubborn deeper stains that affect the overall colour of your teeth.
If you’re tired of being embarrassed about your smile, talk to your dentist about this cosmetic dentistry procedure to get a stunning white smile that lasts.
What Turns Teeth Yellow?
There are many various foods, beverages, and other products that cause teeth to turn yellow, some being more common than others.
- Smoking cigarettes
- Red wine
- Sports drinks
- Tomato sauce
With regular flossing, brushing, and visits to the dentist, you can help remove surface stains. However, some stains are deeper and require professional teeth whitening procedures to fully penetrate the tooth and reach deeper, more prominent stains.
What Is the Tooth Whitening Process and How Does It Work?
Teeth bleaching gel opens the pores in the tooth so the bleaching agent can target deeper stains. The bleach enters the open pores in the enamel and reaches the dentin of the tooth.
The oxygen molecules in the bleaching agent will break away the discoloured molecules that have latched on to the tooth, resulting in the staining.
Once the discoloured molecules break away, the natural colour of the tooth becomes exposed and the tooth appears noticeably whiter. You may have to have multiple procedures for optimal results.
Bleaching Vs. Non-Bleaching Procedures
Your dentist can help you whiten your teeth with two methods.
These methods will usually whiten the colour of your teeth making them five to seven shades brighter. Some dentists perform in-office bleaching, while others provide take-home kits.
The bleaches in both of these methods contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide in concentrations ranging from 10% to 22%.
This process is effective because the bleach helps to remove both surface stains and deep stains.
Chairside (in-office) bleaching is the more expensive of the two bleaching options. It uses light-activated bleach to provide drastic whitening results. While you can achieve drastic results immediately, you will have to pay for another chairside bleaching procedure in the future if you want to remove more stains.
The take-home teeth whitening kit is typically more affordable than the chairside bleaching. Instead of paying a high cost for bleaching each time you want whiter teeth, the at-home kit is a one-time cost that can be used repeatedly in the future.
With this kit, your dentist will create and provide you with a custom mouthpiece to wear at home. You will likely have to wear the mouthpiece for several hours, or overnight, for two weeks. And if you ever notice staining in the future, simply wear the mouthpiece again for a night or two.
Instead of using bleach to remove stains, non-bleaching procedures use a physical and/or chemical action to remove surface stains. While these procedures are effective at removing surface stains, they do not penetrate the teeth to remove deep stains. So you are better off using these non-bleaching procedures along with an effective bleaching procedure to keep your teeth whiter for longer.
Toothpastes are mildly abrasive to help remove surface stains and some whitening toothpastes offer extra stain removal with chemical or polishing agents.
Your dentist or hygienist also provides non-bleaching stain-removal when professionally cleaning your teeth. During a professional dental cleaning, they will use abrasion and polishing to remove surface stains caused by food and smoking.
What’s the Most Cost-Effective Solution?
The most cost-effective solution for teeth whitening is a combination of take-home kits from your dentist, regular professional cleanings, and good oral hygiene habits.
With regular flossing and brushing, and avoiding tooth-staining foods, drinks, and smoking, you can maintain your white teeth for longer. And when you do need to remove more stains, simply use your whitening mouth guard. This is much more cost effective than paying for multiple costly chairside bleaching treatments.
Are Dental Teeth Whitening Procedures Safe? What are the Risks Involved?
All concentrations of peroxide pose some risk of gum irritation and tooth sensitivity being the most common, but these symptoms are mild. Tooth sensitivity is a result of dehydration from the whitening process but corrects itself once your teeth are rehydrated.
Your dentist may give you a desensitizing gel to help hydrate your teeth and reduce sensitivity. The gel will also close the open pores, further reducing sensitivity, and also shielding the tooth from new stains.
You can also use a sensitivity toothpaste and chew white, sugar-free gum to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
How Long Will My Teeth Stay White?
Depending on the dentin, enamel, and overall dental health of the patient, teeth whitening procedures can sometimes last up to three years.
The natural colour of your teeth comes from the dentin inside your teeth. Some people have off-white dentin, while others have greyish-white or yellowish dentin. So once you remove the stains from your teeth, they will be whiter and brighter, but there is no guarantee that your teeth will be snow white.
To keep your teeth staying whiter and stain-free for longer, avoid stain-causing foods, drinks, and smoking, and use a straw if you do drink coffee, tea, and other staining beverages.
How Many Procedures Will I Need?
The number of applications you need will depend on the severity of the stains, the concentration of peroxide your dentist uses, and your age. Other considerations include your diet, whether you smoke, your oral hygiene habits, and whether you have pre-existing dental conditions, such as dental fluorosis and tetracycline stains.
Now that you know what causes stains, how to avoid them, and how to remove them for good, visit your dentist to start working on getting that whiter, brighter smile!
Dr. Hanan Taraf is an experienced dentist. Her first practice was in Morocco, where she was born and raised. In 2005, she came to Canada, studying at the Université de Montréal where she earned her Canadian DMD Degree, graduating in June of 2010. She’s never stopped learning, however; Dr. Taraf’s dedication to continuing education led her to take further studies so she could offer oral sedation to ensure even the most anxious patients are able to enjoy stress-free treatment. Dr. Taraf is also a graduate from the University of Toronto’s Mini Implant Residency with associate professor Dr. Mark Lin.