Do you struggle to express your smile confidently because of yellow or brown stains? Teeth whitening is a great pick to have your smile transformed!
There are many teeth whitening systems and products, including whitening toothpaste, over-the-counter gel, rinse, strips, trays, and whitening products you get from a dentist.
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings) and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic procedure is not recommended for everyone.
Teeth stains you should be concerned about
There are two categories of staining as it relates to the teeth: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic stains: are those that appear on the surface of the teeth as a result of exposure to dark-colored beverages, foods and tobacco, and routine wear and tear. Superficial extrinsic stains are minor and can be removed with brushing and prophylactic dental cleaning. Stubborn extrinsic stains can be removed with more involved efforts, like teeth whitening. Persistent extrinsic stains can penetrate the dentin and become ingrained if they are not dealt with early.
Intrinsic stains: are those that form on the interior of teeth. Intrinsic stains result from trauma, aging, exposure to minerals (like tetracycline) during tooth formation, and/or excessive ingestion of fluoride. In the past, it was thought that intrinsic stains were too resistant to be corrected by bleaching.
Today, cosmetic dentistry experts believe that even deep-set intrinsic stains can be removed with supervised take-home teeth whitening that is maintained over a matter of months or even a year. If all else fails, there are alternative cosmetic solutions to treat intrinsic staining, such as dental veneers.
Teeth whitening options available
It’s never been easier to brighten your smile at home. There are all kinds of products you can try: rinses, gels, chewing gum, toothpastes, and strips.
If you decide to try whitening at home, talk with your dentist first, especially if you have:
- Sensitive teeth
- Dental restorations
- Very dark stains or a single dark tooth
- Lots of fillings or crowns
- Age and pregnancy issues
- Gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and exposed roots.
Unrealistic expectations: Results are subjective, varying considerably from person to person. Many are immediately delighted with their outcome, while others may be disappointed. Before you embark on any whitening treatment, ask your dentist for a realistic idea of the results you are likely to achieve and how long it should take to achieve them.
1. Whitening toothpastes
All toothpastes remove surface stains because they contain mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness.
2. Over-the-counter whitening strips and gels
Whitening gels are clear, peroxide-based gels applied with a small brush directly to the surface of your teeth. Instructions vary depending on the strength of the peroxide. Follow the directions on the product carefully. Initial results are seen in a few days, and final results last about 4 months.
Whitening strips are very thin, virtually invisible strips that are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. The strips should be applied according to the instructions on the label. Initial results are seen in a few days, and final results last about 4 months.
Whitening rinses: Among the newest whitening products available are whitening rinses. Like most mouthwashes, they freshen breath and reduce dental plaque and gum disease. In just 2 minutes a day compared to 30 minutes for many strips. It may have less of an effect.
Ask your dentist about which over-the-counter system to use and how much lightening you can expect. Teeth do darken with age, and the amount of color change varies from person to person.
3. Tray-based tooth whitening systems
Purchased either over-the-counter or from a dentist, involve filling a mouth guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution that has a peroxide-bleaching agent. The tray is worn for a period of time, generally from a couple of hours a day to every day during the night for up to 4 weeks and even longer (depending on the degree of discoloration and desired level of whitening).
4. In-office whitening
In-office bleaching provides the quickest way to whiten teeth. With in-office bleaching, the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth. These products can be used in combination with heat, a special light, or a laser. Results are seen in only one, 30- to 60-minute treatment. But to achieve dramatic results, several appointments are usually needed. However, with in-office bleaching, dramatic results can be seen after the first treatment. This type of whitening is also the most expensive approach.
Get a professional cleaning and mouth exam first, even if you decide to whiten your teeth at home. You might need only a thorough cleaning to restore your smile’s sparkle.
Your dentist will also look for cavities and check the health of your gums during the exam. Treating any problems before you whiten is safer for your mouth.
Teeth whitening safety tips
- Follow directions. Don’t leave the strips or gels on longer than the directions say, or you might wind up with sore gums and set yourself up for other problems.
- Protect sensitive teeth. Your teeth may be a little sensitive after you whiten, but it’s usually brief. It might be less of an issue if your teeth and gums are in good shape. If it bothers you, stop the treatment and talk to your dentist.
- Don’t overdo it. How much whitening is too much? If you follow a product’s directions and get a good result, a once-a-month touch-up session is usually enough. When your teeth reach a shade you like, you’ll need to repeat the multiple bleaching sessions twice a year or less.
How long do teeth whitening results last?
Teeth whitening is not permanent. People who expose their teeth to foods and beverages that cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade in a span of several months.
The degree of whiteness will vary from person to person depending on the condition of the teeth, the level of staining, and the type of bleaching system used.