Teeth Whitening

A whitening procedure lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedure.  It can greatly improve how your teeth look.

Whitening is not a one-time procedure. It will need to be repeated from every so often in order to maintain the brighter color.

How is it used?

The outer layer of your tooth is called the enamel.  The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentin underneath.  Your genes influence the thickness and smoothness of your enamel.  Thinner enamel allows more of the dentin color to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel affects the reflection of light and therefore the color.  Every day, a thin coating forms on the enamel and picks up stains.  Teeth enamel also contain pores that can hold stains.

The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are:

  • Use of tobacco
  • Drinking dark colored liquids such as: coffee, cola, tea and red wine
  • Not taking good care of your teeth through regular brushing and regular dental visits
  • Aging also makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentin becomes darker.

It is also possible to have stains inside the tooth. These are called intrinsic stains. For example, intrinsic stains may be caused by too much exposure to fluoride as a child while teeth are developing.  Other causes include tetracycline antibiotics.  They can stain child’s teeth if taken by a mother during second half of pregnancy or by a child who is 8 years old or younger.  

Teeth are still developing during these years. Trauma is also another way that can darken a tooth.

In-Office Whitening:

Whitening can be done in-office or at home. For in-office whitening, your Coral Springs dentist will most likely take a photograph your teeth first.  Doing so will help him or her to monitor the progress of the treatment.  Your dentist also will examine your teeth and ask you, questions to find out what caused the staining.

Next, the dentist or a dental hygienist will clean your teeth. This will remove the film of bacteria, food and other substances that build up on your teeth and contribute to the staining. Once this is done, the whitening procedure begins.  A custom tray that holds the whitening gel that fits your teeth precisely will be custom made.  First, we apply a substance that covers and protects the gums around the teeth.  Afterwards, a whitening gel is applied directly to your teeth’s surface.  This product contains some form of hydrogen peroxide.  In-office whitening allows your dentist to use a more powerful whitening gel.  At the same time, he/ she will use a light or laser that activates the gel and allows bleaching to occur faster.  In-office whitening usually takes 30 to 90 minutes.  You will need one to three appointments.  The number will depend upon the method used, how severe your stains are and how white you want your teeth.  Different types of stains respond differently to the treatment.

At-Home Whitening:

For at-home whitening, whitening gel usually needs to be applied daily for about two to three weeks.  Your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will make custom mouthpieces to fit you. The mouthpiece needs to fit well. A close fit helps the whitening agent remain in contact with your teeth.  At home, you will fill each mouthpiece with a whitening gel your dentist provides.  You wear the mouthpiece for several hours every day. Many people achieve the whitening they want within a week or two. However, you may need to wear the mouthpiece for four weeks or longer to achieve desired results.

Follow-Up

If you find that your gums are white or sore, follow up with your dentist.  Whitening is not a permanent solution. The stains may come back.  If you smoke or eat/ drink a lot of staining foods or drinks, you may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as one month.  If you avoid these types of food, you may not need another whitening treatment for six to twelve months.

If you have a custom-made mouthpiece and whitening agent at home, you can whiten your teeth as often as needed.  If not, discuss a re-whitening treatment.