If you’re like most Americans, you want your smile to be full of bright, white teeth. That’s why almost 40 million people in the United States used teeth whitening products in the past year. Nearly 80% of patients ask their dentist about whitening their teeth every year, too.
With such significant interest in having a whiter smile, it’s no surprise that people often want to know more about the process. Here are just a few of the more common teeth whitening questions that patients generally have about the procedure.
Why Are My Teeth Yellow?
There are a number of reasons why your teeth may have become discolored in the first place. Some of the most common factors include:
Whatever the reason for your discoloration may be, it can be embarrassing when your teeth aren’t so white. You may become uncomfortable with simple activities that show your teeth, like smiling or talking. Fortunately, there are easy solutions!
Do I Need Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening isn’t medically necessary. However, having a brighter, whiter smile can go a long way toward restoring your self-confidence. If you’ve found that discolored teeth are preventing you from fully enjoying your interactions with others, taking steps to restore your smile can be well worth the investment.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
The chemical process behind teeth whitening is actually pretty straightforward. While the cleaning and polishing process during a normal dental visit will help to remove stain-causing plaque and tartar build-up, the dentin layer – which is just below your enamel – can retain the molecules that discolor your teeth. Whitening products draw oxygen past the pores in your enamel to break up those molecules and remove the stains.
There are a few different methods of teeth whitening that are out there, although they’re not all equally effective. One common method of teeth whitening involves applying a hydrogen peroxide gel to the teeth, then shining UV lights into the mouth to increase the effectiveness of the gel. However, studies have shown that this treatment isn’t always effective, and it can cause some harmful side effects, including burns on the inside of the mouth.
Instead, many teeth whitening dentists, including Dr. Campbell, prefer a system like Opalescence.
Available as either an in-office or a take-home whitening system, Opalescence doesn’t require any kind of UV light to attack the stain molecules on your dentin layer. Instead, it relies only on potassium nitrate and fluoride gel to lighten your teeth. It can brighten teeth by up to eight shades in a single treatment.
How Long Does It Take to Do Teeth Whitening?
In-office treatments usually only take about an hour. If you opt for a take-home system, depending on the strength chosen, you should see results in as few as five days. The take-home system uses trays that are molded to your teeth. With the high viscosity of the Opalescent gel, your whitener should remain in contact with your teeth throughout the entire treatment.
How Often Will I Need Teeth Whitening?
While teeth whitening usually lasts for about a year, the same factors that may have originally discolored your teeth can shorten the effectiveness of your treatment. If you’re a smoker, for instance, you can expect that you’ll need to have whitening treatments done more often. The same is true for coffee drinkers.
You should feel free to discuss any potential concerns you may have with your dentist, who may be able to suggest additional ways that you can keep your teeth white for as long as possible.
Are There Harmful Side Effects to Teeth Whitening?
Studies have shown that when they’re properly used, teeth whitening treatments have no negative impact on your enamel. When you’re getting an in-office treatment, your teeth whitening dentist will have the training and experience to apply the whitening gel in a safe and effective manner.
However, it’s important to pay attention to the instructions when you use a take-home whitening kit. While it may be tempting to leave the gel on for longer than the recommended time, doing so won’t actually make your teeth any lighter and it could potentially cause harm to your teeth.
One common side effect to whitening treatments is increased tooth sensitivity. But the sensitivity is usually temporary and it can be treated with a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. If the pain is intense or persists, make sure to contact your teeth whitening dentist.
Does My Teeth Whitening Treatment Work on Crowns or Fillings?
Unfortunately, most teeth whitening products don’t affect dental work like crowns, veneers, bridges, or other artificial products. When dentists install these fixtures, they take great care to match the product with your existing teeth, in order to make your restorations look as natural as possible.
It’s important to speak with your dentist before a procedure if you’re considering whitening your teeth. They may ask you to do the teeth whitening first, so that they can match the new tooth to the color of your remaining teeth. In any case, you should be aware that changing the color of a crown or veneers can be a complicated—and expensive—process.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
While teeth whitening is not usually covered by dental insurance, that doesn’t mean it has to be out of reach for you. The cost of each whitening treatment will vary based on a number of factors, including the type of treatment being performed.
Take-home kits are usually a little less expensive than in-office treatments, but they also take longer. And while there are a number of cheaper over-the-counter whitening products available, they’re usually less effective than a dentist-prescribed treatment.
These are just some of the more common teeth whitening questions that our patients have asked. If you have additional questions or would like to start the process of whitening your teeth, contact your Teeth Whitening Dentist Near You in Long beach today.