Is Home Teeth Whitening the Best Bleaching Choice for You?

A positive first impression is important in life. A nice smile and white teeth make a first impression that can last a lifetime. It is no secret that teeth lose their whiteness as we age, and that can make for a bad impression. Hollywood celebrities know this and that's why... Read More

The Teeth Whitening And Bleaching Process Explained

The teeth whitening process works.  People see a moderate to substantial improvement in brightness and whiteness.  Regular maintenance and sometimes a few “touch ups” are needed in order to prolong the effect.  But, practically everyone can improve the whiteness of their smiles.

Most of us start life with sparkling white teeth, but as time goes by, the enamel covering the yellow dentin becomes worn down and the dentin shows through.  So, an older person might not see the results that a younger one would, but certain stains can be removed.

It is best to seek help as soon as you start to see any staining.  The procedure will be more effective that way.  It is also a good idea to avoid coffee and other dark beverages or sip them through a straw.  One of the major causes of staining is cigarette smoking.  Chewing snuff or tobacco will also cause yellowing.
 
If those are the kinds of stains that are present, they are called “extrinsic stains”.  The teeth whitening process is very effective on them, but they can penetrate into the dentin and become ingrained, if they are not dealt with early.
 
Intrinsic stains are those that form on the interior of the teeth, as a result of trauma, aging or due to exposure to certain minerals during the formation of the tooth.  Excessive ingestion of fluoride can cause intrinsic staining.  When a dentist determines that the staining is intrinsic, he will usually recommend a “take-home” whitener that is used over the course of several months or even a year.

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Over the counter teeth whitening products may include a mild bleaching agent or a simple cleanser.  Toothpastes that are advertised as whiteners remove surface dirt and debris, but are not actually bleaches.  You can check the label of ingredients and look for hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.  Either of those ingredients will have an actual bleaching effect.

In order for an over-the-counter or the professional whitening process to be effective, it generally needs to be left on for about an hour.  A dentist would use a tight fitting tray to hold a highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel.  Before the tray is inserted, the gums are protected with a paint-on rubber dam, which reduces gum irritation.

Over-the-counter whitening trays come in a one-size fits all variety.  The concentration of the bleaching agent is lower than that used during a professional teeth whitening process, but it can still cause gum irritation.  The cost of over-the-counter products is far less than an in-office visit, but typically takes longer to see results.