Everything You Need To Know About Teeth Whitening

Dec 7, 2022 | Cosmetic Dentistry

As the summer passes in Wilmington, NC our sun-drenched faces will begin to lighten. Unfortunately, our teeth don’t. In fact, over time our teeth seem to get darker and darker. Coffee, tea, tobacco, and the natural effects of aging on teeth all combine to gradually darken our smiles. Teeth whitening is a simple and affordable way to lighten teeth, giving you a brighter, more youthful smile. Here’s everything you need to know about teeth whitening:

The Basics Of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is the process of lightening teeth by bleaching them with a peroxide-based solution. Over-the-counter teeth whiteners such as gels, strips, and toothpaste contain milder concentrations of hydrogen peroxide than those used in professional treatments. Professional teeth whitening procedures use stronger concentrations of hydrogen peroxide; the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in whitening treatment alters the time duration that treatment is warranted to get best results. . 

What Can We Do To Whiten Our Smiles?

Feeling like your smile has darkened? There are many products that are intended to reverse this effect. Store-bought varieties range from a White Out-like paste to something akin to bleach-laden band-aids. To help decipher the myriad options one must understand that there are two basic types of tooth stains – extrinsic and intrinsic.

An extrinsic stain is a surface stain. This type of stain is generally removed by the hygienist during a regular cleaning appointment. Extrinsic stains are also the target of popular whitening toothpaste on the market. While these products do have the American Dental Association seal of approval, they are generally approved for the “removal of surface stains” only (one must always read the fine print carefully). Unfortunately, this sort of over-the-counter whitening toothpaste has very little effect on the internally darkened portion of the tooth.

An intrinsic stain is a stain within the tooth. This is the type of stain that responds well to bleaching. If this is the first you’ve read about bleaching your teeth, it may sound harsh. It is actually quite a simple and generally harmless process involving peroxide – not household bleach – as the active ingredient. Peroxide-enriched gels prescribed by your dentist can be applied directly to the tooth to remove both superficial (extrinsic) and deep (intrinsic) stains.

Can Anyone Whiten His or Her Teeth?

The simple answer is no, But this may be the wrong question. The more important questions, however, are whether to bleach at all and how to do it. First, ask your dentist if you are a candidate for bleaching. There are many things to consider: crowns, veneers, and fillings do not lighten with bleach; any two healthy teeth can respond differently, and naturally occurring white spots and ridges may become more noticeable.

Without the proper professional guidance from a dentist, you may risk any of these possible consequences. Your dentist can measure the current shade of your teeth and develop a personally tailored program for your smile only.

The ADA seal of approval for a particular bleaching method and the product is also important when considering a potentially permanent treatment involving something as important as your smile. This approval is only given to those materials shown to be effective and, more importantly, safe in a series of clinical trials.

What To Expect At Your First Appointment

At your first teeth whitening appointment, a comprehensive dental exam will be performed to assess the health of your teeth and gums. Your teeth will be professionally cleaned and any necessary restorative treatments may need to be completed prior to teeth whitening.

Custom bleach trays can be made and Salling & Tate also offers a mold at home version of whitening trays that can be taken home the same day as your appointment!  In-office teeth whitening treatments typically take about two hours, with quick follow-up appointments for further brightening if necessary. 

After teeth whitening treatment, you should expect teeth to be a few shades whiter than before. Results will vary from person to person and depend on the type of teeth whitener used as well as the severity of staining that was present prior to teeth whitening.  Follow-up maintenance at home between professional teeth whitening treatments is recommended in order to maintain your newly refreshed smile!  With regular maintenance, teeth whitening can boost confidence and provide a brighter, more youthful-looking appearance for years to come. Following the after-care instructions for home use will help make sure you get the best results possible with teeth.

How Long Does Whitening Your Teeth Last?

The longevity of teeth whitening results is dependent on the type of teeth whitener used and lifestyle habits. Regular preventative care and good oral hygiene will also help teeth remain brighter for longer. It is always important to practice proper dental hygiene after teeth whitening in order to maintain a healthy smile!

How To Know If Teeth Whitening Is Your Next Step

It is best to speak with a dentist about teeth whitening before making any decisions. Authorized teeth whitening services are typically provided by dental professionals, and an authorized teeth whitening provider will be able to offer the most appropriate treatment plan for teeth depending on your teeth structure and the degree of staining. To get started, book an appointment with your dentist today!  With professional teeth whitening treatments and proper after-care instructions, you can achieve brighter whiter teeth in no time!

Take your next step by booking a dental exam at Salling & Tate! Our experienced dental team will assess your teeth and develop a teeth whitening plan tailored to you!  Here’s to a brighter, healthier smile!