All You Need to Know about Teeth Whitening

April 26, 2018

Portrait of young beautiful woman in hat on whiteHave you ever looked in the mirror and wondered how your teeth got so yellow? Does the thought of having someone else notice embarrass you? Even though you brush and floss regularly, drinking coffee, tea, or wine, and eating food such as berries or chocolate can stain your teeth over time.

So many patients will ask, what can they do about it?

Professional teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures out there, and one of the safest. Still, patients often feel reluctant to ask about it because of embarrassment or worry. If you’ve been wanting to learn more about teeth whitening, then you’ve come to the right place.

How Do Stains Occur in the First Place?

Generally speaking, there are two types of stains: intrinsic, and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains occur inside teeth.These stains are much less common, and are usually caused by medications, genetics, tooth trauma, infection, or, like a gray hair, aging. If the type of staining you have is intrinsic, its best to pair in-house whitening techniques with take home trays for maximum effectiveness. However, whitening may not be the best solution.

Extrinsic staining is the most common, and occurs when staining agents from food or drink become stuck to our enamel. Most think of enamel as flat, but in fact, our enamel has many natural ridges that staining agents can become attached to like snow on a mountain top. Some of the biggest stainers are coffee, wine, tea, and alcohol, but normal foods can stain our teeth over time.

What Does Teeth Whitening Do?

Teeth whitening works by breaking down staining compounds that have become trapped in your enamel. Using a solution containing substances such as peroxide, dentist use a light catalyst to activate the compound and break down staining agents. After three treatments lasting about 15 minutes each, you’re done!

What about over the Counter Solutions?

While over-the-counter solutions work in much the same way, they aren’t nearly as effective. Dentist and dental hygienists are trained to use teeth whitening substances which are much more concentrated than those found at a grocery store. Custom trays ensure even whitening, too, so you don’t end up with a smile that’s only partially whitened–which can be as bad as no whitening.

Is Teeth Whitening Right For Me?

It’s important to understand that the effectiveness of teeth whitening is limited to the shade of your natural enamel. That being said, generally patients enjoy up to eight shades of whitening after an in-office procedure. Prioritizing treatment is also important. If you’re suffering from gum disease, for example, which can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease and stroke, that treatment should supercede any cosmetic dental procedure.

If you’re considering teeth whitening, the best way to determine if you’re a candidate is to schedule an appointment. To learn more about what cosmetic dentistry can do for you in the Greeley or Weld County area, please call (970) 353-4329 today for an appointment at Greeley Dental Health.