According to a report done by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, people wanted to improve the shade of their teeth the most. Aside from oral health, it is important for people to have an aesthetically pleasing smile, the study suggests.
Teeth whitening is a big commitment and can be quite costly too. Before you jump into this decision, make sure you have a good understanding of all the essential information about whitening teeth. Here’s what you need to know before you schedule that dentist appointment.
Teeth discoloration naturally happens as we grow older. After years and years of brushing, the enamel gradually wears off, leaving the yellow-toned dentin to be more exposed. Weakened enamel is one of the most common reasons that teeth become discolored but there are other elements that can contribute to the discoloration of teeth.
Nicotine and tar from cigarettes badly stain teeth and also damage gums. People who take strong medications like antihistamines and antipsychotics for a prolonged period of time are susceptible to teeth discoloration and weakened enamel.
Some discoloration caused by foods like wine, tomato-based sauces and curries can also be only temporary and will be easily washed off after brushing and cleansing.
How Teeth Whitening is Done
There are several methods to whiten teeth, from home kits to professional services done at the clinic. However, not all discolored teeth can be whitened. Some may be too damaged beyond repair. Brownish and greyish discolorations will be harder to remove.
Most teeth whitening methods are done over a course of several visits, which can last around 3 weeks, although there are also whitening kits that promise instant results. Typically, a special type of bleach is applied on teeth to break down the discoloration. This is cured with laser technology, which activates the chemical and speeds down the whitening process. The result are pearly whites that’s up to six shades lighter.
Different Whitening Options
Before undergoing a teeth whitening procedure, your dentist will have to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Afterwards, you will be given the different whitening options to choose from. The most common ones are:
1. In office bleaching – This is the usual method of bleaching done at the dentist’s office. Also called chairside bleaching, this requires several applications, which will depend on the treatment plan.
2. DIY kit – DIY teeth bleaching kits are also available at the clinic. You can ask your dentist for a custom-made kit which you can apply at the comfort of your own home. This option is also effective but is much cheaper than in-office treatment.
3. Over the counter products – There are several teeth whitening products like toothpaste, strips and creams that you can buy at the local drugstore.
Side Effects of Whitening
Modern teeth whitening products and procedures that are ADA approved are safe but patients can still experience some side effects. The most common side effect that people complain about is teeth sensitivity. However, this usually goes away after a couple of weeks. It is advised to limit teeth whitening treatments to just once every 6 months to avoid the risk of teeth sensitivity.