Overview of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is used to correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. The term “teeth whitening” can refer to a number of techniques to improve the brightness of the patient’s teeth. Among them are chemical whitening, mild acid whitening, abrasive teeth brightening and the newest technique, laser teeth whitening.
Teeth bleaching is chemical process used to lighten the color of the patient’s teeth. The procedure can be performed entirely in the cosmetic dentist’s office or it can be performed by the patient in their home, using a materials provided by the dentist. The home method is often used because it saves the patient from having to make an office visit for each treatment.
Types of Teeth Whitening Procedures
There are a few teeth whitening procedures available that correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. While each work effectively, there are advantages and disadvantages to each procedure dependent upon your objectives and commitment to the processes. The type of procedures available should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist, and a they will recommend the most appropriate teeth whitening procedure for you.
In-Office Laser Tooth Whitening
In-office teeth whitening methods are performed with bleaching gel and laser light. This is a good method of teeth whitening for sensitive teeth, as the process may be closely monitored by the cosmetic dentist. The teeth are carefully isolated from the lips and gums, and then a bleaching gel is applied to them. A laser is used in conjunction with the gel to accelerate and amplify the tooth whitening process.
Custom Fit Tray Bleaching (In-Home)
A custom fitted tray is worn over your teeth. A small amount of the bleaching gel is placed in the tray and worn for a brief amount of time each day. This is the most common technique because it’s easy to use and costs less. Impressions are taken of your mouth and a thin custom made plastic tray is made which you take home and wear for about one to two hours per day. While some results may be seen in a couple days, it usually takes one to two weeks to see the full whitening of your teeth. This procedure is sometimes used in conjunction with the in-office laser bleaching if you have severe discoloration (dark grey or purple) or internal teeth staining.
Advantage: A gradual whitening of your teeth over time will be less noticeable to others that you’re undergoing this procedure. The cost is relatively low.
Disadvantages: This procedure will require two to four visits to the cosmetic dentists office.
Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening
People typically have their teeth whitened to improve their appearance. Whiter teeth are associated with beauty and a healthier lifestyle. When people have a brighter smile, they tend to smile more often and are less self-conscious.
In addition, a whiter smile tends to minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles, giving way to a more youthful and energetic appearance.
Finally, a whiter smile gives people to whom you are speaking a place to focus on and gives you a friendlier appearance.
Although bleaching is very effective, there can be short term disadvantages, such as sore gums or teeth from the bleach. This disappears when bleach use is discontinued. Some individuals are more chemically sensitive. If you are one of them, inform your cosmetic dentist so that you can be tested for sensitivity to the solution.
Research indicates that bleaching is completely effective in more than 78% of people. In cases of serious teeth discoloration, bleaching may not be the best choice. Veneers or crowns may be the superior choice. Bleaching is usually the first solution to try due to its lower cost.
Some people experience discomfort from wearing the mouth tray. This typically goes away in short order, but if you suspect that there is a problem with the fit of your mouth tray, call your dentist’s office. They can often make small adjustments that will minimize or eliminate the problem.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure. Results can last for one to or more years, depending upon your personal habits. In most cases, the whitening procedure is very effective and the patient is pleased with the results.