Teeth may become stained for a variety of reasons. The outside surfaces of your teeth may become discolored by smoking, red wine, coffee, tea, or dyes in food. Intrinsic discoloration emanates from inside the tooth and may be caused by childhood illness, aging, medications, infection, or tooth trauma. However, you don’t have to put up with a dingy smile. You can safely make your teeth whiter and brighter by using at-home whitening products or visiting your dentist for whitening treatments.
- Teeth with intrinsic discoloration may need to be professionally bleached.
Over the Counter Teeth Whitening Products
OTC whitening treatments are available. However, these products are not as powerful as compounds that are administered by a dentist. Any OTC preparation that carries the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance will give you confidence that it is safe to use. Needless to say, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Toothpastes designed to whiten target the outer surfaces of the teeth with a variety of ingredients, including abrasives and a chemical called blue covarine. This chemical coats the surface of the teeth and creates the optical illusion that the teeth are less yellow.
Whitening strips contain a small amount of bleaching agent. These strips are applied to the teeth one or two times a day for a set period of time, as instructed by the manufacturer.
At-Home Treatment Through Your Dentist
A dentist can make custom-fit trays that are placed in your mouth and over your teeth. A whitening gel is placed in each tray, which will be worn from thirty to sixty minutes each day for a few weeks.
Professional Teeth Whitening by a Dentist
The main method of teeth whitening used by a dentist is bleaching the teeth with carbamide peroxide. This chemical breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea and targets the tooth’s color via a chemical reaction. In-office whitening treatments make use of a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide than is found in OTC products. In-office treatments are recommended if you have abfraction lesions or receding gums.
Are There Any Side Effects From Teeth Whitening?
While there are no safety concerns with teeth whitening, there may be some mild side effects:
- Sensitivity. Your teeth may become more sensitive, especially following the first or second treatment. Your dentist may recommend the use of a desensitizing gel.
- Irritated gums. You may experience some irritation of your gums while being treated, but this should go away shortly thereafter.
How Long Does Tooth Whitening Last?
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to whiten teeth permanently. Whitening treatments will need to be repeated every so often. Also, keep in mind that whitening products are for natural teeth. Your dentist can advise you about unifying the color of your teeth if you have crowns, implants, or bridges. If you reside in or near Mt. Pleasant, SC, make an appointment with Old Mt. Pleasant Dentistry to discuss whitening your teeth. We will aim to make your smile as white as possible.