Teeth whitening is a common bleaching process used to brighten the enamel and dentin of the tooth. Dietary choices and aging can stain and discolor teeth. Enjoying a coffee, tea, cigarette, soda or wine can leave dark stains on the teeth. To correct these spots, many people turn to teeth whitening. While you can try at-home methods, seeing a dentist to whiten your teeth can give you better results in less time.
Common questions about teeth whitening
With so many teeth whitening methods on the market, you can become confused when it comes to deciding on a treatment. Here are some questions to ask before you begin whitening.
Is whitening the best option?
Prior to teeth whitening, the dentist will examine the teeth and gums. The condition of the teeth and health of the gums will determine whether you are a good candidate for this procedure. For some people, whitening is not always the best option.
Certain types of dental work cannot improve with bleaching. The process can make crowns, veneers or dentures stand out from natural teeth. If so, then you will not benefit from whitening. However, whitening can help discolored teeth match crowns, veneers or partial dentures that are noticeably whiter than natural teeth. An in-office consultation and examination will help determine the right course of action.
How long is the process?
A teeth cleaning will need to occur before the teeth whitening procedure. The bleaching portion takes under an hour. A special hydrogen peroxide whitening gel is applied that reacts with UV light. The gel stays on the teeth while the light shines on them to break up stains and discoloration. This lasts about 15 minutes. This process is repeated three times for a total of 45 minutes. Following the procedure, a fluoride paste is applied to the teeth to help reduce sensitivity.
Does teeth whitening hurt?
Some patients have reported tooth sensitivity after the procedure. This sensitivity can last for about half a day, but it rarely goes beyond 24 hours. During this time, patients are encouraged to avoid hot and cold food or drinks. If the gums are not covered well, the peroxide gel can leak onto the gums and cause minor burns. These burns appear as white areas on the gum and typically heal within 48 hours. For this reason, seeing a professional is always best when whitening your teeth.
Is there follow up care?
The dentist may provide a home touch up kit with whitening trays along with instructions on how to use them. To maintain the whitening effects, it is important to avoid the foods and beverages that caused the original stains. Limit the consumption of tea, coffee, wine and drinks with high sugar content. Stop using tobacco products completely as these will stain the teeth and can cause cancer.
Ask the dentist for recommendations on tooth whitening toothpaste and continue to maintain good oral care habits. Brush and floss regularly and see the dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
Are you ready for a brighter smile?
It only takes one visit to have a white smile. The teeth whitening process does not take long but produces great results. If you are ready to whiten your teeth, call our office to start the process.
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