The cosmetic dentistry procedure known as teeth whitening is performed to whiten the teeth and give patients a brighter smile. If the teeth whitening procedure is performed in the office of a dentist, the dentist will place a bleaching gel on the teeth and then a light or laser will active the bleaching process. Following the activation of the bleaching process, oxygen emerges into the enamel and the color of the teeth starts to lighten. If the procedure is performed at the home of a patient, the dentist will make a mouth guard that fits over the teeth. The whitening gel is applied to the mouth guard and placed in the mouth over the teeth. The patient wears the mouth guard for about 30 minutes each day for 2-4 weeks. Over the counter whitening gels are applied to the teeth twice per day. These are thin, plastic strips that are coated with a gel.
Besides the techniques listed above, teeth whitening can be performed using a number of techniques that brighten the smile. Take a look below to discover the multiple methods of whitening the teeth.
Teeth Whitening Techniques
The shade of the teeth helps to determine the brightness of the smile. Here are some of the most popular teeth whitening techniques currently being performed:
- In-Office Bleaching – This is when a patient goes to the office of the dentist to get a bleaching treatment to whiten the teeth. The dentist will supervise the entire process so the teeth will be treated in a more thorough manner. In addition, visiting a dentist for teeth whitening can result in the teeth becoming whiter in a quicker manner than having to perform multiple treatments at home.
- Whitening Toothpaste – While toothpaste is a well-known method for keeping the teeth healthy and removing any surface stains, whitening toothpaste contains mild abrasives that polish the teeth as well as chemical agents such as hydrogen peroxide that help with stain removal.
- Whitening Strips – This teeth whitening treatment is a thin strip that is coated with a gel that is peroxide-based. They are applied to the teeth twice each day for about 30 minutes. Patients continue this treatment for two weeks. Whitening strips are generally more effective than whitening gels and whitening toothpaste but they do not provide the same dramatic results as dental trays or professional whitening.
- Whitening Gels – In a manner similar to toothpaste, whitening gels are applied to the teeth with a small brush. The abrasives used with a whitening gel are much finer than the ones in toothpaste so they are a better choice for sensitive teeth.
- Dental Trays – This is a treatment that is performed at home using mouthpiece trays. Dental trays are performed under the supervision of a dentist. A custom made mouthpiece is created to properly fit the teeth so they will have the maximum contact between the bleaching agent and the tooth. Patients that decide to use over the counter dental trays need to be aware of the fact that over the counter trays are “one size fits all” so a proper fit might not be easy to achieve. If a proper fit does not happen, the patient will not get the full impact of the bleaching effect which could cause uneven whitening results.
Teeth whitening can be enjoyed by almost any patient. Patients need to decide if they want to see immediate results by visiting a dentist or if they don’t mind seeing the results at a slower pace by performing treatments at home. In addition, the amount of whitening desired by a person can decide the best treatment option. Patients that only want to brighten their smile by a shade or two can achieve these results using over the counter products. Patients that want results that are more than one or two shades will need to visit the dentist for their teeth whitening needs.
No matter what type of teeth whitening is performed by the dentist, there are some limitations to the amount of whitening that can be achieved. A person that starts with darker stains on the teeth will require multiple visits to get a much brighter smile. Due to the darker shade of the teeth, they might not be able to achieve a good amount of brightness to the smile. Patients need to have realistic expectations about the results that can be achieved with teeth whitening.
Teeth Whitening Risks and Results
There are a few risks patients should be aware of when undergoing a teeth whitening treatment. If the treatment is not performed correctly, there could be some discoloration of the teeth as well as uneven stripes or markings on the teeth. In addition, the teeth might be sensitive after the teeth whitening treatment. The roots of the teeth can be damaged if the teeth whitening technique is performed improperly.
In order to maintain the results of teeth whitening, patients are encouraged to avoid food and drink that is dark colored since they can stain the teeth. Patients should get a touch-up treatment every six months to maintain the results and to enjoy teeth that are whiter and brighter.