Teeth whitening, commonly called teeth bleaching, is the process of whitening your teeth to make them a lighter shade. Most patients are unhappy with a grey or yellowish tint to their teeth. Bleaching your teeth is a professional solution to get your teeth as white as possible. The chemical used in the tooth whitening product is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes and breaks down the stains in the spaces between the enamel. This process dilutes the pigments, thus, providing the appearance of lighter teeth. Of course, your teeth won't return to their original color, but they will look brighter.
Why Get Your Teeth Whitened?
People who choose to get their teeth whitened are unhappy with their current yellow or greyish color. The mild abrasives found in toothpaste remove stains to a certain level. But regular brushing will only get you so far. Whitening toothpaste can lighten a tooth by about one (1) shade. A dentist-tooth-whitening can whiten your teeth by a level of three (3) to eight (8) shades.
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
There are numerous reasons teeth lose their shiny original white glow and become a duller, yellow shade.
- Tobacco: Tar and nicotine are the two (2) teeth-staining culprits found in tobacco. Tar is naturally dark, while nicotine remains colorless until it combines with oxygen. That combination results in yellow stains on teeth.
- Age: The tough outer layer of your teeth, known as enamel, can thin out over time due to brushing. That allows a tooth's dentin, the layer just below the enamel, to show. Dentin has a yellowish tinge to it.
- Food and Drink: Drinks such as coffee, tea, and wine are known culprits of tooth discoloration. Certain drinks, like soda and juice, and certain fruits and vegetables, are considered acidic. Acidic substances lead to discolored teeth.
- Lack of Oral Hygiene: Not regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, and otherwise caring for your mouth can lead to teeth stains. Not removing the substances left behind by food and drink often causes stains.
- Medications: This includes certain chemotherapy medications, certain medications used for asthma, certain medications used to manage epilepsy, and certain high blood pressure medications.
- Specific Diseases: Diseases and health issues that may contribute to yellow teeth include dentinogenesis imperfecta, amelogenesis imperfecta, and other illnesses.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
How do dentists whiten teeth? The teeth whitening process is pretty standard. A dentist begins by taking shade measurements of the patient's teeth. The completion of your procedure lets the dentist judge the level of improvement. After, your dentist uses pumice to polish your teeth. Next, a cheek retractor is placed in the mouth to expose all the teeth typically visible when you smile. As a result of the bleaching gel, your eyes, lips, and gums need a protective covering. Upon completion with fully exposed teeth, your dentist applies the whitening to each tooth. Are you wondering how long it all takes? We recommend allowing yourself time for three (3) to four (4) treatments. Each bleaching treatment takes approximately fifteen (15) to twenty (20) minutes.
Upon completion, the patient rinses with water, and the teeth are polished with pumice again, if necessary. Then, the dentist measures the final tooth shade. The before and after photos allow you to see your dentist's results, experience, and skill-set. Patients might feel mild discomfort from the process.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Some risks can result from the teeth whitening process. The two (2) most common side effects are increased, albeit temporary, tooth sensitivity and soft tissue irritation in the mouth. The tooth sensitivity comes from the bleaching treatment, while the tissue irritation develops from the mouthpiece tray. Whitening products supplied by a dentist's office and those applied during an office visit all have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. The ADA doesn't endorse over-the-counter bleaching products. However, not having the ADA Seal of Acceptance doesn't mean a product isn't safe and effective.
In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening Options
Suppose you're wary of doing the whitening yourself. In that case, you're probably wondering what the best way to whiten teeth professionally is? Also, how do professional teeth whitening treatments work? There are two (2) types of in-office teeth whitening treatments. Both involve the use of light to accelerate the process.
- Light-accelerated bleaching: If your dentist uses a laser, it's also called instant teeth whitening or laser teeth whitening. This process involves the use of light energy, which speeds up the bleaching or whitening process. The treatment typically involves isolation of the gum line with a resin-based, light-curable barrier. Then, hydrogen peroxide whitening gel, explicitly made for dental use, is applied to the teeth. Finally, the teeth are exposed to the light source for a specific amount of time, usually around 15 minutes.
- Nanoparticle catalysts: This is another light-based bleaching process, but it involves less hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide mixed with titanium oxide creates a nanoparticle-based catalyst that whitens teeth. While also causing less hypersensitivity and minor wear and tear on enamel resulting from hydrogen peroxide.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Remedies
- Stain-removing toothpaste: Some kinds of toothpaste are specifically for whitening. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance with regards to stain removal. All kinds of toothpaste remove stains, but these toothpaste tubes have extra polishing agents geared towards removing stains from a tooth's surface.
- At-home dental bleaching: For this method, you'll need a custom-made tray from your dentist. The bleaching solution sits in the tray for a specific time. Your dentist or hygienist demonstrates how to put the solution in the tray and provide you the correct time length. This whitening process ranges from a few days to a few weeks.
- Over-the-counter bleaching: Consult your dentist initially if this is the route you choose to pursue. Whether you opt for toothpaste or strips, the bleaching agent in these products is at a lower concentration than what a dentist would use for an in-office treatment.
So how long does it take to get white teeth? Depending on the method you choose, it might take one (1) day to three (3) weeks. Using an at-home treatment will take longer than an in-office treatment. That's because the bleaching agents dentists use are more potent than a store-bought product.
Teeth Whitening Products
Suppose you're leaning towards teeth whitening at home instead of a dentist's office. In that case, the list of products below offers plenty of choices:
- Teeth whitening kits: These kits come with a mouthpiece you fill with a gel whitening solution for easy at-home use. Opt for the equipment with a mouthpiece tray that molds to fit your teeth. It's a better option than a standard mouthpiece. An ill-fitting tray can cause gum irritation.
- Whitening strips: This at-home option gives you a plastic whitening strip coated with a thin layer of hydrogen peroxide shaped to fit the surfaces of teeth. They often take longer and aren't as effective as in-office teeth bleaching services.
- Whitening toothpaste: These include abrasive chemicals and detergents inside compared to standard toothpaste. The goal is to whiten your teeth. However, they may cause sensitivity as well as take considerable time to show any results.
- Whitening rinses: These rinses have hydrogen peroxide in them. Smile Generation recommends using a whitening rinse twice a day/ It may take time to see results, and it may not whiten as well as you hoped.
- Whitening with a professional: Teeth whitening services from a dentist are the fastest way to whiten teeth. A dentist applies the bleaching agent directly to your teeth combined with a laser, a special light, or heat. After one (1) treatment, you will see the results.
Cost of Teeth Whitening
How much is teeth whitening at a dentist vs. at home? A teeth whitening price varies depending on the type of procedure. Over-the-counter methods cost the least, while a teeth whitening dentist's fee will be significantly more. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) states:
Laser whitening will run around $1,000; a bleaching application in a dentist's office costs about $500. If the dentist does an initial bleaching and then sends you home with a kit to use, expect to pay around $300.
How Long Do the Results Last?
A teeth whitening procedure doesn't permanently last. Your teeth whitening results may range from a few months up to three (3) years. Some of that has to do with the method you choose. So, how long does in-office whitening last? Having the whitening performed by a dentist will make it last longer than an over-the-counter product you use at home. Be mindful of habits that stain teeth, such as tobacco use, or consuming drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine will also increase the whitening lifespan.
Get the Best Professional Teeth Whitening Near You
Teeth whitening falls under the general dentistry umbrella, so only a dentist or a dental hygienist should perform the procedure. The Smile Generation® connects you with trusted, experienced, and qualified dentists and oral hygienists. Smile Generation® strives to be your trusted resource for all your dental health needs. We provide a search tool, "Find a Dentist". You may also call us at +1 (800) 764-5343 or use our Website's Live Chat feature located in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.