Tooth whitening is among the most requested dental procedures; Americans spend nearly two million dollars each year to keep their smiles looking bright. Over time, aging, smoking cigarettes and drinking wine, coffee, and tea can stain your teeth, as can medications like tetracycline. If you want to spruce up your smile, Olga Burzyantseva MD recommends professional tooth whitening.
Tooth whitening and tooth bleaching
Tooth whitening is any process that makes teeth appear white than before. Most people use the terms whitening and bleaching interchangeably, but they have different meanings. For example, the term bleaching is applicable when the product has bleach; bleaching products usually contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These products remove surface and deep stains and cause teeth to become whiter than their natural color. On the other hand, whitening products remove food and debris from the teeth to restore their natural color.
Today, whitening and bleaching products are readily available in the market, making it easier for people to whiten teeth at home. However, these products usually have a lower concentration of peroxide than whitening products used by the dentist. It may therefore take a long time before you attain desired results. Specialists recommend dentist-supervised whitening because it is safe for your tooth enamel.
Professional tooth bleaching
The first step to a professional tooth bleaching is to meet with your dentist and establish whether the procedure is suitable for you. Because professional tooth bleaching involves the application of strong chemicals, the dentist checks your teeth to ensure they are ideal for the process. Problems such as cavities, exposed roots of teeth, worn enamel, and gingivitis may prevent you from having your teeth bleached. However, if your dentist fills your cavities, it should be possible to proceed with treatment.
If you are allergic to hydrogen peroxide, your dentist may caution against bleaching since the product contains a high peroxide concentration. Crowns and veneers do not respond to bleach, so you may not benefit from the procedure if you have any of that.
What happens during professional bleaching?
During a professional bleaching treatment, your dentist fits a rubber dental dam in your mouth to protect your gums from the bleaching agent. It usually is not the most aesthetically pleasing thing to wear, but it effectively ensures only the teeth are exposed for treatment. Some dentists also use cheek retractors to move the lips and cheeks away from the treatment area.
Next, the dentist carefully applies the whitening gel to your teeth for three 20 minutes intervals and aims a heating lamp at your teeth with reapplication of the gel between intervals. The dentist may also use laser light to accelerate or activate the whitening process; you will wear a pair of protective glasses at this stage.
You may need several treatments for dramatic results, but results are usually visible after the first treatment. Your dentist may also give you whitening trays to continue with bleaching treatment at home. Whitening results are not permanent; still, stains may eventually form on your teeth due to the foods and drinks you consume.
Book a session with your dentist at CHW Care for teeth whitening to improve your smile.