Nothing catches the eye better than a sparkling white smile. Sadly, due to smoking, excess tobacco use, age or medication, our teeth may not remain as white as they once were. Tooth whitening is a dental procedure that is carried out by a cosmetic dentistry professional in a safe dental setting. It is one of the most affordable dental procedures. Even though results may vary depending on the method you choose, dramatic results can be achieved when the job is done by a professional dentist.
Professionally supervised whitening works faster and guards sensitive tooth root surfaces and gums better, as compared to using over-the-counter whitening products. It is important that you have an oral exam before you attempt any whitening process on your own to see if you need professional help. Your tooth discoloration may be the result of a dental disease that needs to be treated urgently. It is also risky to have untrained people apply any dental whitening products to your teeth. Don’t be tempted to avail free or discounted products at the mall, as it could lead to other serious dental conditions.
Moreover, tooth whitening brightens natural teeth, but the process may not work the same way for everyone. During your dental checkup, consult your dentist about your idea to whiten your teeth. The dentist will see if you have:
• Sensitive teeth
• An infection
• Other dental work like a bridge or a crown
Several whiteners that are available in the market may fail to address these factors. Apart from this, your dentist will let you know whether your teeth will bleach well or not. Whitening does not usually work on crowns or fillings, caps and veneers. It will also not work if the discoloration is caused by medications or an injury.
Types of Teeth Whitening Methods
If your dentist deems you eligible for the procedure, he will decide whether you need a dentist supervised whitening treatment or you can do it at home using the kit your dentist will provide you. Dentists strongly recommend patients to avoid over-the-counter tooth whitening kits, particularly the ones which have not received ADA approval. By following strict instructions on the package, store-bought kits may take up 7-30 days of regular use before you see the results you want.
Teeth whitening treatments supervised by dentists offer greater results which are more reliable and long-lasting as compared to using store-bought kits. They can be in the form of:
• An in-office Treatment
• A dentist-dispensed take-home kit
The dentist will first thoroughly examine your teeth, bone structure and the condition of your gums and then decide if a tooth whitening procedure will be safe and effective for you. In case this treatment is supervised by the dentist and performed in office, the dentist will:
• Prepare you by covering your gums and lips and making sure only your teeth are exposed
• Apply a gel on your teeth, which will whiten them
• Expose your teeth to a special light which enhances the effect of the gel and ensures it delivers the desired effect
• Put on some music or switch on the TV to help you relax
• Perform the process two more times (application of the gel along with the light treatment)
A Dentist-Dispensed Take-Home Kit
The kit provided by your dentist will contain a more potent whitening agent. No harmful chemicals are used and you get a reliable tooth whitening kit as compared to a store-bought kit.
Which Treatment Is Best For You
The dentist will guide and help you in deciding which treatment will work best for you. It also depends on to the extent to which your teeth are stained and the severity of it will decide the cost, time and care required for a good teeth whitening session. Sometimes, tooth whitening is combined with other dental procedures to deliver more aesthetic results.
Taking Care of Your Whitened Smile
The effects of whitened teeth can last for anywhere from 4 months to 1 year. It depends on the consumption of food, drinks and tobacco as well as the condition of your teeth. Consuming too much coffee and tea also hasten the discoloration process. When undergoing teeth whitening treatment, practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly. There are a few important things you can do to guarantee long lasting whitening results. Even though these may vary from case to case, a conscientious routine of flossing and brushing has to be practiced on a daily basis.
• Limit your consumption of sodas, coffee, tea and smoking for at least two days after the teeth whitening process. Added or long-term treatments may require some more time.
• Bleach does not work on fillings, crowns and caps. Discuss with your dentist if they need to be replaced if they are not matching with the rest of your teeth.
• The professional-grade bleaching components used by dentists are powerful, and allow the solution to penetrate the toughest stains, to get you the best smile that you can show off.
Cost of Teeth Whitening
The cost of in-office teeth whitening can range from $450 to $650 for an average two to three-hour visit, whereas tray-based teeth whiteners are more affordable and cost around $300 to $700. These typically lighten your smile by 6 shades. Your dentist will decide the whitening method that will work best for you.
A majority of consumers waste their precious time and dollars on over-the-counter treatments to whiten their teeth. Ineffective products may damage any previous dental work or irritate the gums. Professional-strength solutions deliver quick and safe results and you will get a brighter smile for a longer time.
You may need to undergo a whitening session after a couple of years, depending on how you take care of your teeth after the procedure. However, don’t expect magical results and don’t be fooled by celebrity photos showing exceptionally whitened teeth. These are digitally brightened and natural teeth are not whiter than the whites of your eyes.