Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Modern cosmetic dentistry is beneficial to those who have stained, worn, broken, chipped, discolored, or misshapen teeth. A cosmetic dentist can help create a treatment plan and educate you on the variety of methods available. One of the most popular procedures is professional teeth whitening.

The Teeth Whitening Process

As we age, the dentin of our teeth begins to yellow and the enamel thins due to years of brushing. Lifestyle choices including smoking, taking medications, drinking coffee and wine all play a part in further discoloring the teeth. Most whiteners that are bleach-based contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. When these chemicals break down, oxygen is released into the enamel on the teeth to lighten the color. Cosmetic dentists use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide for professional bleaching. The high levels can burn the gums, so your dentist will protect them using rubber dams during treatment (ref).

Your dentist can provide at-home teeth whitening kits that are less expensive than the in-office procedure. They usually come with syringes filled with a high concentration hydrogen peroxide that is applied inside a custom-fitted dental tray. The trays will keep the peroxide on the surface of the tooth and are relatively easy to use.

Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening is a simple, inexpensive, and less-invasive way to achieve a sparkling smile. You can lighten your teeth with over-the-counter whitening toothpaste, bleaching strips, and rinses (ref). While this is the cheapest option, it’s not always effective, especially with severely discovered teeth. Bleaching procedures in your dentist’s office can help improve your smile significantly. Your results will depend on the treatment you choose and the condition of your teeth. Past dental work, hygiene, and genetics are also all factors. If you have crowns or porcelain veneers, a whitening procedure won’t work.

Whitening toothpaste will only work on superficial stains. The visible effects are usually minimal and lighten up to two shades. Not all whitening toothpaste is the same, and some cause damage to the enamel. If you need to change the color of the dentin, you would need to go the bleaching route. A professional whitening treatment can provide you with results that last up to three years.

Ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening and before purchasing over-the-counter products. Contact them if you experience sensitivity to cold or heat after your procedure. Your dentist office is the best place to ask questions about the different bleaching procedures. Your dentist will need to exam your gums and teeth to prevent any gum irritation or damage to the enamel.

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