Brushing and flossing are effective ways to keep your teeth healthy; however, you may feel that your smile is lacking some of its old sparkle or that your teeth have become slightly yellow. Teeth whitening is an effective option for brightening your teeth and improving your smile. Cosmetic dentists typically provide whitening along with braces and preventative dentistry.
Teeth Whitening Methods
• Toothpastes Formulated for Whitening
All toothpastes can help to remove surface stains since they contain mild abrasives. These abrasives scrub the tooth enamel thus rubbing away the substances that cause the stains. Whitening toothpastes contain special chemicals and polishing agents that increase their ability to remove stains. However, whitening toothpastes can only work on the surface of teeth. The result is that they cannot change the color of teeth, unlike bleaches.
This involves changing the natural color of teeth. Cosmetic dentists can use bleaches to make teeth as much as seven shades brighter. Your dentist may use in-office or at-home whitening methods. The active ingredient in the bleaches can be either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These bleaches can remove both surface stains and those that are deep in the enamel.
With in-office bleaching (sometimes referred to as “chair-side bleaching”), a protective gel or special shield may be applied to protect your gums from the bleach that will be used on your teeth. Your dentist may also use a special laser that makes the bleaching agent more effective.
At-home bleaching will be limited to the use of the bleaching agents. The bleaching agents may come in gel form and used in trays that fit over your teeth, or on a strip that adheres to your tooth enamel. The bleaches used for at-home whitening are less concentrated than those that a dentist would use in their office.
• Non-Bleaching Dental Procedures
Cleanings are an important part of preventative dentistry and can improve the appearance of your teeth as well. A dentist or dental hygienist may use abrasion along with polishing as a part of the cleaning procedure. This can remove most of the external stains left by smoking and food.
Not everyone will respond to whitening in the same way. In some cases, the only way that a patient will see significant improvement in the color of their teeth is with the use of veneers or bonding. For more information on teeth whitening procedures and to find out which is right for you, call our office to schedule an appointment.