Teeth whitening

Look and feel better — both on the outside and on the inside.

According to a national survey from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Crest and Oral B, the smile outranked eyes, hair and the body as the most attractive physical feature.

As summer approaches and our calendars are filled with wedding and graduation dates, the need to look our best becomes even more important to us. Teeth whitening is one of the most common and popular ways to make a big difference in your appearance and greatly improve how your teeth look, not to mention making you look years younger, more attractive, and more confident.

Why do people whiten their teeth?

The obvious reason is that people want to look more attractive. It’s a simple fact that white teeth look a lot better than yellow teeth. White teeth not only look more attractive, giving you the confidence to laugh and smile more in public, but they also look a lot more healthy. People choose to whiten their teeth to gain a more confident and attractive smile.

How is teeth whitening done?

Teeth whitening treatment essentially lightens the color of your teeth to improve your appearance by reducing tooth discoloration, giving you a brighter smile. Teeth differ in shade and some people’s teeth are naturally darker than others. The actual degree of “whiteness” achieved will vary from patient to patient but the results are invariably a great improvement.

Whitening can be done in the dental office or at home. The most common type of tooth whitening uses a gel-like whitening solution that is applied directly to the tooth surface. Different types of stains respond differently to the treatment. Treatment times and recommendations are dependent upon the condition of a person’s teeth at time of treatment. The two most common types of treatment are:

• In-home whitening, your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will make custom mouthpieces to fit you. You will fill each mouthpiece with a whitening gel your dentist provides, and wear the mouthpiece for approximately one hour every day. Many people achieve the amount of whitening they want within a week or two.

• In-office whitening allows your dentist to use a more powerful whitening gel that allows bleaching to happen faster, and usually takes 30 to 90 minutes, depending upon how severe your stains are and how white you want your teeth to be. Your dentist will apply a substance that covers and protects the gums around the teeth. The whitening agent is then placed on the teeth, and repeated until the desired shade is obtained.

Teeth whitening — The Facts

White teeth look better, but unfortunately our teeth are stained by food and drink on a daily basis. The most common reasons for teeth to become yellow or stained are aging, which makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner; the use of tobacco; drinking dark colored liquids such as coffee, cola, tea and red wine; certain medicines such as tetracycline (antibiotic) staining, excessive fluoride, old fillings; and poor dental hygiene.

The two side effects that occur most often with teeth whitening are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth, particularly the gums. If you do experience sensitivity, you can reduce or eliminate it by wearing the tray for a shorter period of time. It is also suggested that you ask your dentist about fluoride treatments or high fluoride-containing products.

Whitening is not recommended in children under the age of 16. This is because the pulp chamber, or nerve of the tooth, is enlarged until this age. Teeth whitening under this condition could irritate the pulp or cause it to become sensitive. Teeth whitening is also not recommended in pregnant or lactating women.

Other dental problems can affect the success of tooth whitening. For example, cavities need to be treated before teeth are whitened. Whitening also does not work on ceramic or porcelain crowns or veneers.

The ADA and most dentists recommend that prior to any whitening procedure you have a consultation with your dentist, who will examine the condition and sensitivity of your teeth and gums.


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