What does teeth whitening involve?

An effective way to keep teeth healthy and bright is to brush and floss daily. But sometimes more of an effort is needed to keep your teeth looking their best and brightest. If you have been considering teeth whitening as a way to improve teeth that may be affected by food stains, tobaccos use, or age-related changes to enamel here’s what you need to know about this process.

Evaluating Your Teeth

Teeth whitening is a fairly simple and painless process that involves using special tooth bleaches. The most common ones used are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent. In a nutshell, these solutions break down stains so the white part of each tooth is more visible.

During your initial visit, a dentist will evaluate the current state of your teeth. This step is important because teeth whitening isn’t right for everyone. The nature of your tooth discoloration will determine if this treatment is right for you.

Getting Your Teeth Ready

If you are a good candidate for professional teeth whitening, the first is usually a thorough cleaning. This is done to remove any surface materials that may be on your teeth. Polishing may also be done to get rid of plaque that may be on the teeth that will be treated. Preparation for treatment also typically involves:

• Using gauze to dry the mouth
• Placing retractors in strategic areas to keep the lips, tongue, and cheeks away from the whitening solution
• Placing an added barrier next to the gumline to provide extra protection during the whitening process

Performing the Whitening Treatment

Once your mouth is ready for the whitening process, treatment begins. Your teeth will be coated with a whitening solution that’s placed on the front surface of each tooth that needs to be treated. Some whitening products used by a dentist also require the use of a curing light or laser. The purpose of this step is to activate the peroxide. The solution usually remains in place for 30-60 minutes.

Because the teeth whitening treatment does leave some solution behind once the process is complete, the treated teeth will be rinsed once the optimal or desired shade has been reached. A fluoride application may be used as well. What this additional step does is reduce tooth sensitivity, which some patients do experience after treatment. The entire process takes about 60-90 minutes to complete.

Determining How Many Sessions You May Need

If tooth discoloration is minor, you may only need one session to see the desired results. However, if your discoloration is a bit more noticeable, you may be advised to schedule additional visits for professional teeth whitening.

Offering Recommendations for Post-Treatment Care

In order to maintain results, it’s best to avoid foods or beverages that could re-stain your teeth for the first few days after treatment. You’ll also be more likely to enjoy the results longer if you minimize your consumption of:

• Tea or black coffee
• Tomato products and dishes
• Yellow mustard
• Certain candies with darker pigments – e.g., chocolate, caramel, fudge, etc.
• Red wine

If you are a smoker, consider ditching this habit if you want to get the most out of your teeth whitening treatments. Also, be careful with certain fruits, like black grapes.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, teeth whitening is one of the most commonly requested elective dental techniques. It’s definitely worth the effort to find out if this treatment could be right for you if you’re not dissatisfied with the quality of your smile because of tooth discoloration. Contact us today to learn more about teeth whitening and how you may benefit from this process. 

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