Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is the most popular form of cosmetic dentistry. Dentists typically offer two types of professional teeth whitening – procedures in the dental chair, and prescription custom whitening trays you can use at home.

Both methods are safe, fast, and highly effective compared with over-the-counter whitening products and DIY bleaching kits. Just as there are basically two types of professional teeth whitening treatments, there are two types of teeth discoloration and staining:

  • Intrinsic staining.
  • Extrinsic staining.

Intrinsic staining gives your teeth a yellowing appearance and is part of the aging process. It occurs as a tooth’s protective outer layer – enamel – becomes thinner, allowing more of the underlying dentin – which darkens as you get older – to show through.

Extrinsic staining is due to external factors that directly discolor tooth enamel, including:

  • Drinks containing tannins, such as tea, coffee, and red wine.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Some medications.
  • Dental injury.

Professional teeth whitening works by changing the color of dentin (intrinsic whitening) and removing stains from the enamel (extrinsic whitening).

Professional Teeth Whitening in the Dental Office

A whitening appointment at the dentist’s – also known as chairside bleaching – takes about 90 minutes and is monitored for your safety during each step of the process.

It starts with your dentist or dental hygienist giving your teeth a professional cleaning to remove food debris, bacteria, and plaque that accumulate on your teeth and contribute to staining.

A peroxide bleaching agent is then applied to your teeth, and the gel is hardened with a special light. This process is repeated several times. Another light may be used to finish the procedure by accelerating chemical reactions and the whitening process.

A different procedure – called non-vital whitening – can be used when a tooth has had root canal work and the stain is coming from the tooth interior. In this case, the whitening agent will be placed inside the tooth and covered with a temporary filling for several days.

Professional Teeth Whitening at Home

For at-home professional teeth whitening, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth so that precision-fit custom whitening trays can be made. The close fit will ensure the whitening agent stays in contact with your teeth.

Back home, you fill each tray with a whitening gel provided by your dentist and wear them several hours a day. Many people achieve their desired whitening in a week or two, but it might take longer.

Advantages of Professional Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening will boost your self-regard by eliminating concerns about how your discolored or stained teeth are spoiling your smile.

Unlike store-bought teeth whitening products, whitening by a dental professional is customized to your specific needs, and your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth. They can then give your teeth the level of brightness you require, in the areas you need it most.

Professional teeth whitening is also good for your oral health. During the pre-whitening assessment, your dentist may detect problems with your teeth or gums that you weren’t aware of.

And when a dental professional removes tooth stains, your teeth will become stronger. Your dentist can also give you expert advice on how to keep your teeth healthy and shining in the future, explaining the right techniques for brushing and flossing, and what types of foods and drinks to cut back on.

Professional teeth whitening avoids the need for repeat applications of messy, over-the-counter products, and your dentist can lighten discoloration of both dentin and enamel to produce significant results, with teeth many shades whiter.

Other benefits of professional teeth whitening include:

  • Your dentist can adjust the concentration and level of the whitening agent while ensuring your gums and other parts of your mouth are protected.
  • Whitening materials used by dentists produce a better outcome because they have more effective bleaching agents than over-the-counter products.
  • Professional custom whitening trays for use at home are more comfortable than over-the-counter trays, which may fit badly, and leak gel, which could irritate your gums.

Which Type of Professional Teeth Whitening is Right for Me?

If you’re looking for the best option to whiten your teeth, treatment by a dental professional will produce the most dramatic results in the shortest time.

Professional teeth whitening is a minimal-risk procedure suitable for many patients. Candidates for whitening generally have mild to moderate staining or discoloration – and want a sparkling smile, of course!

Of the two basic types of professional tooth whitening, treatment at a dental practice holds an advantage over at-home whitening trays. In-office whitening allows your dentist to use a stronger whitening agent. On the other hand, take-home whiteners are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

A dentist specializing in teeth whitening can help you make an informed decision on which type of professional teeth whitening option is right for you.

To determine whether teeth whitening will work well for you, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums. If there are no problems, they’ll discuss your teeth whitening goals and the results that are realistically achievable to give you a natural-looking smile.

With this information, your dentist can help you decide whether in-office or at-home whitening is the right solution for you.

You’ll certainly need to tell your dentist about any factors that may make teeth whitening problematic, such as:

  • Your teeth and/or gums are very sensitive.
  • You have receding gums.
  • You are sensitive to peroxides.
  • You have cavities.
  • You have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid erosion on your teeth.

If you would like to learn more and start teeth whitening treatment call Smile Hawaii and schedule your consultation today.