Get healthy and bright smile!
Art of Whitening
How do dentists whiten your teeth?
In spite of regular brushing and flossing, teeth can become stained and discolored. Yellow or brown stains can make you self-conscious about your smile and reduce your overall ability to enjoy life. When teeth become severely stained, dentists can help with in-office teeth whitening.
Types of Teeth Whitening
There are several different types of teeth whitening, but the basic approaches to whitening the teeth are:
*At-home, over the counter whitening
*At-home, professional strength whitening provided by a dentist
*Whitening performed in the dentist's office
Whitening performed or prescribed by your dentist provides a stronger whitening solution and is more effective than over the counter whiteners. Typically, dentists will recommend a whitening session in the office, then will follow up with an at-home whitening kit if stains prove particularly stubborn.
How Whitening Works
Regardless of where your whitening takes place, the general procedure is the same. A whitening agent is applied to the surface of the teeth. It is left on the teeth for a period of time so that it can soak into the teeth's porous surface, bleaching stains caused by food, beverages or nicotine.
For an in the office session, the dentist will coat your lips and gums with a protective substance so that the bleaching agent does not contact these delicate tissues. Then the whitening agent is applied to the surface of the teeth. It is usually left for a period of time, then removed and reapplied. Some whitening agents must be activated with a special light. This is usually referred to as laser teeth whitening. Each session usually lasts about an hour, with whitener applied and left for about twenty minutes at a time. A whitening session in your dentist's office can lighten your teeth seven to ten shades in a single session.
At home whitening can involve a whitening agent that is simply painted on the teeth, but more often the whitening agent is a gel that is placed in a special tray. You then wear the tray for a prescribed period of time, usually fifteen minutes to a half an hour. You will wear the tray once or twice a day, according to your doctor's instructions. For best results, the at home treatment will last a week or two.
In some cases, stains on the teeth do not respond to whitening treatment. This is usually because the staining is intrinsic, or part of the structure of the tooth, rather than extrinsic. Extrinsic staining only affects the outer surface of the tooth, and so is easily corrected with tooth whitening. Intrinsic staining affects the enamel's deep layers, and often can only be corrected through use of porcelain veneers or crowns.
To find out what kind of teeth whitening procedure is best for you, contact a dental professional in your area for a consultation.