Getting your teeth whitening is among the most popular cosmetic treatments in America. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, 90% of Americans requested tooth whitening during a visit. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry also reported that tooth whitening is the most common thing people request is to improve their smile. So what is it all about? Is tooth whitening worth it? What is involved in getting a brighter smile? Today we will take a look at these questions and more as we explore what goes into getting a better smile. Some of the techniques and products can be used at home, but we will also take a look at professional teeth whitening which gets you better and faster results.
Why Are My Teeth Yellow Even Though I Brush Them?Over time, it is natural for the teeth to discolor due to a variety of factors. These include:
- Food and drink. Coffee, tea, and wine are just some of the foods that can stain the teeth. What do they have in common? They all have pigments that can attach to the enamel, the white outer part of your tooth.
- Tobacco use can also have a major impact on your oral health beyond just tooth discoloration. The tar and the nicotine in tobacco each contribute to the discoloration. Nicotine turns yellowish and stains surfaces when exposed to oxygen.
- Tooth trauma. Sometimes a tooth will turn a different color as it reacts to an injury. The tooth will reinforce itself by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer beneath the translucent enamel.
- Medications can also discolor the teeth, which can be a side effect of some antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications. Other medications can also discolor teeth, such as antibiotics and chemotherapy.
- Age is the most common cause of tooth discoloration. The outer layer of the teeth, the enamel, will naturally become thinner so that the darker, more yellow dentin layer will show through.
What Is Teeth Whitening?Teeth whitening describes any process in which the teeth are made shades lighter. This can be achieved by changing the color of the enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth. The most common active ingredient in teeth whitening is hydrogen peroxide and is either delivered as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide will break down unstable free radicles in the tooth, which allows for small, less heavily pigmented tooth enamel. These reflect less light, and so have a whitening effect. Dental professionals should be consulted in order to correctly identify and correct the type, intensity, and location of the tooth discoloration. How long the tooth is exposed to the whitening agent, and the concentration of the bleaching compound determine how white the tooth will become. Dentists have the best access to the tools and techniques that can powerfully and quickly transform your smile from drab yellow to shining pearly white.
How Do Dentists Whiten Teeth?When seeking an in-office treatment, you have a few options. You can:
- Have the dentist create a mold of your teeth and then using that newly-made tray apply a bleaching gel to the teeth for 2 to 4 weeks.
- Laser whitening can whiten the teeth. A bleaching agent is carefully painted onto the teeth and then a powerful laser is shone onto the teeth, activating the whitening properties of the bleach. This takes about an hour.
- Chairside bleaching is where the dentist applies a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield and then applies a bleaching agent to the teeth. This often only takes one dentist visit.
What Is The Best Whitener For Your Teeth?If you are not ready to spend the money to get your teeth professionally whitened, then you do have a few at-home options to choose from. The market offers lots of options that can fit easily into your lifestyle and routine. You are sure to find the right treatment for your smile and your tooth sensitivity. Some options include:
- Tooth whitening strips. These are versatile little strips of plastic loaded with a bleaching agent that easily sticks to the teeth without slipping around. Some even come with a lightweight blue light device that helps to activate the bleaching gel, so that it can penetrate the enamel more. This is the same technology that dentists use in their offices, just on a smaller scale. The strips are generally applied for about an hour.
- Budget options include whitening toothpaste. These are fairly cheap with most only being a few dollars more than regular toothpaste. These come with whitening agents of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for a double approach to whitening. You won’t see the same results as other whitening products, but it is great for preventing stains and lifting stains off the teeth.
- For sensitive teeth, you can find special whitening strips there as well that can feature natural ingredients, including salt, coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil. These can even be used on crowns, porcelain caps, and veneers.
Is Teeth Whitening Bad For Your Teeth?Teeth whitening is not without some side effects. There is always a chance that your gums will be sensitive to the chemicals that are used in the bleaching. If you already have sensitive teeth this chance increases. There is also the risk of bleaching the gums by improperly applying the bleaching gels, and some whitening at-home kits can damage the enamel if not properly applied. This is why professional teeth whitening is recommended. Dentists are trained to be able to properly apply the bleaching agents in order to get you the best results. They are also able to do so faster, and the results last many times longer than at-home kits.
What To Avoid After Teeth WhiteningThe top five foods to avoid after teeth whitening include:
- Dark or strongly colored liquids. These include red wine, coffee, and tea. Also drinks like soda, and tomato juice makes the list. If it can stain a white shirt, it could stain your teeth.
- Acidic beverages. This is where dark sodas back a one-two punch. They are both dark and acidic. The same goes for fruit juices and alcohol. The acidic environment created by these drinks can stain your newly whitened teeth.
- Sugary foods. Soda, cakes, cookies, and anything sweet can stain your teeth by encouraging bacteria growth which can lead to tooth decay and discoloration.
- Food with added color, or natural color. Things like soy sauce, ketchup, and chocolate. Lay off these foods until your teeth are no longer sensitive.
- Anything that could stain a white shirt. Refrain from these foods for the first 24 hours after a whitening treatment in order to maintain and maximize your treatment.
Do Teeth Whiteners Work?Short answer: yes! Long answer: Tooth whitening works best for people who have yellow teeth. They are less effective for people with brown teeth, and if your teeth are damaged and are gray or purple, tooth whitening may not be the best option for you. Because it can be complicated to find the cause of tooth discoloration, it is best to consult a dentist who can pinpoint what the cause is and recommend a course of treatment in order for you to get your best smile.
How Much Does It Cost To Have Your Teeth Professionally Whitened?Professional teeth whitening has an average cost of $650. This figure can climb to near $1000 depending on the products used and the rates of your dentists. In most cases, the cost is well worth it. People report that they are able to see a difference in appearance in their teeth after just one treatment. This is because the bleaching agents used in the treatments are considerably more powerful than any available in an at-home kit. These kits are often no more than 10% hydrogen peroxide, where in-office treatments are close to 25 and 40%.
How Can I Whiten My Teeth In One Day?A professional teeth whitening session can lighten your teeth dramatically with an hour of treatment. But, if you need your teeth whitened today, there are a few options you have. While none of these three treatments will dramatically change your smile, they can help shine it up.
- Brush with a tooth whitening toothpaste
- Use activated charcoal
- There is limited evidence that oil pulling with an oil like coconut oil can help whiten the teeth.
How Can I Make My Yellow Teeth Whiter Naturally?There are a number of things you can do to help whiten the teeth naturally. These include:
- Brushing your teeth. Good oral hygiene is the key to a bright smile.
- Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. These are easily found in whitening toothpaste.
- Coconut oil pulling can help whiten the teeth, and its as easy as using mouthwash.
- Apple cider vinegar can be used to whiten the teeth.
- Lemon, orange, or banana peels can be used to help whiten the teeth.
- Activated charcoal is a great addition to any at-home routine.
- Eat foods with a high water content to help keep your teeth stain-free