A bright, white smile can do wonders for your self-confidence and appearance. But over time, your teeth can become stained or discolored from food, drinks, smoking, or aging. If you’re looking to rejuvenate your smile, professional cosmetic teeth whitening may be right for you.
In this blog, we’ll explore the ins and outs of cosmetic teeth whitening in depth. We’ll thoroughly cover the different procedures available, numerous benefits of whitening, and everything you need to know about what to expect during treatment. Read on to learn all about how you can achieve a noticeably whiter, brighter smile with professional whitening from your trusted dentist.
Overviews of Teeth Whitening Options
There are several options when it comes to professional teeth whitening from your dentist:
This is performed at your dentist’s office in about 1 hour. Your dentist will isolate your teeth and apply a high-concentration hydrogen peroxide gel directly to them. Many patients see dramatic results after just one in-office treatment, though more may be recommended for maximum whitening. This is the fastest way to whiten your teeth professionally.
Take-Home Whitening Kits
Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and create custom-fitted whitening trays. You’ll be given whitening gel with lower hydrogen peroxide concentrations to take home and self-administer daily or as recommended. Treatment takes 1-2 weeks but gives you more control over the gradual whitening process. This is a more affordable option than in-office visits.
Whitening toothpastes are milder but do contain polishing or chemical agents to remove surface stains overtime with continuous use. They won’t produce major changes in shade but are good for maintenance after other whitening treatments. These are useful for maintaining results long-term.
Other Whitening Products
There are various over-the-counter whitening strips, rinses, gels, and other products available. However, these are generally less effective than professional options. Speak to your dentist about OTC products versus clinical whitening for the best and safest results.
Benefits of Professional Whitening
Professional teeth whitening from your dentist offers many advantages over DIY methods:
Safety & Effectiveness
Professional whitening from your dentist is the safest and most effective option. Your dentist will assess your teeth’s health and enamel thickness first to determine which treatment is right for you. Custom-fitted trays and dentist-prescribed gels also optimize whitening results while minimizing sensitivity. Over-the-counter kits can be improperly fitted and contain abrasive ingredients.
In-office treatments and take-home kits both use high-concentration peroxide gels not available in stores. These clinical-grade gels lead to visibly whiter teeth, often by 6-8 shades or more, in a shorter timeframe than OTC products. For patients with severe discoloration, combining in-office and take-home treatments may provide the most dramatic results.
With proper oral hygiene and avoidance of staining foods/drinks, professional whitening results can last 1-3 years or longer. Some periodic touch-up treatments may be needed for maintenance but outcomes won’t quickly revert like they might with OTC whitening. Under your dentist’s supervision, clinical whitening provides longer-lasting brightening.
Professional whitening penetrates enamel deeper than OTC products to break up deep stains from smoking, coffee, tea, red wine, sodas, curry, berries and other sources. Prescription whitening gels contain higher peroxide concentrations that can target stubborn intrinsic discoloration.
Improved Oral Health
In addition to aesthetic whitening, professional whitening can eliminate plaque buildup and improve overall dental health. Freshly whitened teeth motivate many patients to quit smoking or drinking dark beverages as well. Your smile’s health and appearance go hand in hand.
A brighter and whiter smile conveys health, happiness, and confidence. Many people report getting compliments on their new smile and feeling more comfortable in social situations after professional whitening treatments. An improved smile boosts self-esteem.
What to Expect During Treatment
Professional whitening requires planning, precise application, and some post-treatment care:
Consultation & Planning
Your dentist will start with a thorough consultation, oral exam, and discussion of your goals. They can explain the differences between various professional options and recommend which is right for your needs and budget. X-rays or scans may assess tooth enamel thickness and highlight any oral health issues beforehand. Custom trays will be fitted and multiple shade measurements taken before and after whitening to track progress.
Application & Monitoring
During in-office visits, your dentist will carefully isolate teeth from saliva before applying the high-concentration whitening gel. Take-home trays allow you to safely self-administer daily applications of gel. Your dentist will monitor and adapt treatment plans if any sensitivity occurs. Follow your dentist’s product usage instructions closely for best results.
Some mild-moderate tooth sensitivity or gum irritation is common during the first few days of treatment as the peroxide gel opens dentinal tubules. This usually subsides within 1-2 weeks post-treatment. Your dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste, gel, or other treatments to minimize discomfort during the whitening period. Report any major or prolonged pain.
Avoiding Stains After Whitening
Sustaining your bright new smile involves avoiding highly pigmented foods and beverages for 1-2 weeks after whitening. Things like soy sauce, red wine, coffee, tea, tobacco, curry, berries and dark sodas can quickly re-stain lightened enamel. Continued use of whitening toothpaste and touch-up treatments will help prolong results long-term.
Regular Dental Visits
Schedule professional cleanings and checkups every 6 months after whitening. Your dentist can remove new staining and recommend maintenance/touch-up treatments. Annual whitening may be advised to keep your smile looking its brightest.
Ideal Candidates for Whitening
While generally safe for most healthy adults, professional whitening is ideal for:
- Non-smokers or very light smokers with only mild staining. Heavy smoking causes intrinsic discoloration that is harder to resolve with whitening.
- Patients with discoloration primarily due to aging, diet, medications, childhood fluoride use, or trauma. Whitening works best on extrinsic and mild intrinsic stains.
- Those with good overall oral health and no recent cavities, gum disease, or enamel defects. Existing oral conditions should be treated before whitening.
- People wanting a brighter smile for weddings, graduations, interviews, photoshoots, vacations, and other special events within 1-2 months. Quick but dramatic cosmetic brightening.
Teeth whitening is not recommended for:
- Pregnant or lactating women as effects on fetuses are uncertain. Delay whitening until after pregnancy and breastfeeding are completed.
- Adolescents under age 16 whose teeth are still developing enamel and dentin internally. Whitening should wait until full maturity.
- Individuals with significant gum disease, tooth decay, cracked enamel, open cavities, leaky fillings, or other untreated oral health issues. These increase sensitivity risk.
- People with lots of dental work like metal amalgam fillings, crowns, bridges, veneers etc. that won’t lighten the same as natural teeth. Artificial surfaces won’t brighten.
- Patients taking photosensitizing medications or with photosensitivity disorders. Peroxide gels can increase light sensitivity.
- Those with unrealistic expectations of “Hollywood white” teeth. Natural mineral composition prevents blinding white hues.
A brighter, whiter smile conveys confidence, health, and beauty. Professional cosmetic teeth whitening is the safest, most effective way to combat stains from smoking, food and drink, age and more. In-office and take-home kits produce dramatic whitening that can last for years with proper maintenance. If you’re considering treatments, have an in-depth discussion with your dentist about the pros and cons of each option. They can help create a customized whitening plan tailored to your needs, goals, and budget. With professional products and guidance, you’ll be on your way to a noticeably brighter, more radiant smile.