Your teeth play both functional and aesthetic roles. They are the first thing people notice about you when you speak or smile. Teeth can create a lasting impression on most people. They also say a lot about your oral health and hygiene. White teeth are not only impressive to look at; they boost your confidence and appearance. However, for most of us, our teeth are not as sparkly as we would like them to be. We have to rely on teeth whitening procedures at home or at the dentist’s office to keep our teeth white. The Encino Dentist provides teeth whitening services to residents of Encino using modern techniques that the American Dental Association has approved. Get in touch with us for help.
What is Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that involves the removal of stains and discoloration on teeth. Our teeth go through a lot; they age, stain, discolor, and suffer from trauma when injured. These factors can lead to the staining of teeth and the development of an unattractive shade.
Teeth staining and discoloration depend on the nature, thickness, and smoothness of your enamel, and are caused by:
- The food and drinks you consume
- Poor dental hygiene
- Intrinsic stains due to high exposure to fluoride during tooth development
- Some medication
- Age genetics
Most of the stains on teeth can be removed with whitening agents, proper dental hygiene, and in-office whitening. In-office whitening is the most effective and thorough teeth whitening procedure due to the high concentration of bleaching agent used. In-office cleaning occurs in several steps, including:
1. Evaluation and Preparation
Your dentist will not dive into the teeth whitening process just because you ask for it. He or she will have to evaluate the general health of your teeth and mouth. The evaluation includes examining the stains on your teeth, whether there are cavities and the state of your jaw.
Usually, the type of stains determines the extent to which you will need bleaching and whether the stains will benefit from bleaching. There are different types of teeth stains, including:
- Extrinsic stains: these stains occur on the surface of the teeth. The common causes of extrinsic teeth staining include tobacco use, food, wine, and pigmented products. Extrinsic stains are easy to correct with both home and in-office teeth whitening procedures.
- Intrinsic Stains: these are deeper stains found below the tooth surface. They occur due to discoloration of the enamel, especially due to exposure to high fluoride content during the development of teeth. These stains are harder to remove with both in-office and home procedures.
- Stains due to age: these stains are a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic stains. The dentin usually yellows over time and becomes exposed as the enamel thins with age, which causes a yellowish appearance to the teeth of most aged people.
Your dentist will also identify the health of your teeth to determine whether there are issues such as cavities and plaque that need to be addressed before the whitening. Decayed teeth and receding gums could cause sensitivity after teeth whitening.
The dentist will also photograph your teeth to have a reference point of the state of your teeth before and after treatment. He or she might compare the shade of your teeth on an existing scale. Most dentists will take an impression of your teeth to help them create trays for at-home whitening after the procedure.
2. The Whitening Procedure
After the evaluation and preparation, your dentist will cover your gums with a dental dam to protect them from damage by the bleaching agent. Dental dams can be in the form of gel or rubber. Your dentist might also place other protection materials such as cheek retractors, gauze, face bib, and eyewear to protect these tissues.
He or she will then apply the bleaching agent, usually hydrogen peroxide, on the teeth to be bleached. The agent stays on your teeth for about 30 to 60 minutes. Your dentist might apply the bleaching agent severally for better results. He or she might choose to use a bleaching light or laser to increase the action of the bleaching agent.
Your dentist will monitor the whitening until your teeth achieve the desired shade or the agent can no longer remain on the teeth safely. He or she will rinse the agent off and remove the protective layering. In some cases, the dentist may provide fluoride treatment to prevent tooth sensitivity.
At this stage of whitening, the dentist cannot accurately determine the results of the procedure. Usually, the hydrogen peroxide used to whiten teeth dehydrates them, which instantly makes the teeth look brighter. After the teeth rehydrate, they might appear darker.
3. Post-Whitening Care
Your teeth will not retain the shade they get after the whitening. They may darken and stain due to natural processes such as rehydration, aging, lifestyle, and diet choices. You should avoid consuming foods and beverages that could cause staining to the teeth. These include tomato juice and paste, wine, coffee, tea, grapes, and smoking.
Your dentist might also provide you with at-home cleaning kits to maintain the whiter shade of your teeth.
Home Whitening Procedures
Home whitening procedures are those that you can do at home by yourself. Before you practice any of these methods, you have to visit a dentist for an evaluation and recommendation. The dentist will identify problems that already exist or those that might arise due to at-home whitening solutions. If the dentist approves, he or she might recommend procedures such as:
- Whitening toothpaste, which contains whitening chemicals and polishing agents that scrape off the stains on your teeth. They have deeper whitening capabilities compared to regular toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste does not have the deeper reaching effect of in-office bleaching agents but can make your teeth a shade brighter.
- Whitening strips and gels: gels are peroxide-based whitening agents that you apply directly on the surface of the teeth using a brush. They come with product-use instructions, which you should follow carefully. Whitening strips are thin adhesive strips with a peroxide coating that you apply on your teeth. Gels and whitening strips start showing results within a few days of use. Your teeth can remain white for up to four months after using them.
- Whitening rinses: these are a long-acting type of mouthwash that contains whitening agents. You swish the rinse in your mouth for 60 seconds, twice a day before brushing your teeth. Due to the short time the rinse is in contact with the teeth, it may take up to twelve weeks to see any results.
- Tray whitening: the dentist will make a customized tray from the impression of your teeth. These trays are filled with hydrogen peroxide. You should then wear them on your teeth for several hours daily depending on the extent of staining and the shade you desire to attain. You will wear the trays for two to three weeks to see the results. You may have to wear the tray for longer if your teeth are deeply stained.
Your dentist will require you to make follow-up visits to assess the progress of at-home and in-office treatment. As mentioned earlier, it is hard to determine the success of a procedure based on the immediate look of teeth after the procedure.
During the follow-up visit, your doctor will check the current shade of your teeth. He or she may conduct additional whitening if you want a brighter smile. Not all teeth, however, can go beyond a certain shade. For example, if the staining on your teeth is genetic, then whitening products cannot change their color.
Your doctor will also handle any concerns you have developed since the whitening or due to the use of at-home whitening procedures.
Risks of Teeth Whitening
The risks of teeth whitening include:
- Teeth sensitivity in the days following the treatment
- Sore gums especially with at-home whitening procedures
- staining due to poor dental care, eating staining food and smoking
- Bleached gums
For some people, it would be unsafe to have teeth whitened. These groups include:
- People who are allergic to hydrogen peroxide
- People with sensitive teeth or gums
- Your dentine or pulp is exposed
- Acid erosion
- There are defects in the development of your enamel
- Pregnant and lactating women
- People with receding gums
- Tooth decay
- Children under 16 years
- You have white fillings or restorative materials (these cannot be whitened after they are stained)
- You have poor oral hygiene
Teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure. You can only increase the period during which your teeth remain white through proper dental care and the use of at-home whitening agents such as toothpaste. Normally, with proper care, your teeth will remain white for between 6 and 12 months. You will then need to reschedule another whitening appointment. With poor care, your teeth can lose their white shade in seven days.
Find a Dentist Near Me
In-office teeth whitening is more effective than at-home procedures. Before you whiten your teeth, you need to consult with your dentist to get a full review of the health of your teeth and the best whitening procedure for you. The Encino Dentist will recommend the best procedure you can use, prepare you, and provide you with the care tips and practices that you can apply after the procedure. If you feel that your teeth could benefit from whitening, contact us at 818-650-0429 for an evaluation.