Clearly having whiter teeth is something that is on a lot of people’s minds.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, almost 90% of patients have requested tooth whitening at some point.
Tooth discoloration can occur for a number of reasons.
- Food and drinks can stain your teeth; the biggest offenders being coffee, red wine, and tea
- Dental trauma
- Certain medications
The first thing you need to do is speak to your dentist. They will be able to tell you if teeth whitening is a good idea. Teeth whitening does not work on all teeth and before you start, it is important to know if you would see any benefits.
So how do dentists whiten teeth?
- The dentist will start by protecting your gums by placing a gel on them.
- Next, a mouthguard-like product that has been fitted to your mouth is filled with a whitening product and will be applied to your teeth.
You will begin this procedure at the dentist office but continue at home by applying the whitening product. The dentist will instruct you on how to do this and how long to keep the product on.
The more recent procedure that some dentists use is called “power whitening.” This procedure is quicker than a professional bleaching, only taking about an hour to complete.
- To protect your gums, a rubber dam is placed over the teeth.
- The dentist will then take a bleaching product and coat that on your teeth.
- Once the product is on your teeth, a special light is shone on the teeth, this will activate the chemical in the whitening product.
Another method your dentist may suggest is veneers. Although veneers are not just for whitening, they can be used to treat tooth discoloration. You and your dentist can discuss the use of a local anesthesia prior to the procedure.
- To begin, your dentist removes around 1/2 millimeter of tooth enamel to make room for the veneer.
- The dentist will make an impression of the tooth receiving the veneer. This impression is then sent to a dental lab that constructs the veneer specifically for that tooth. Note: Sometimes you may have a temporary veneer placed over your tooth while the lab works on the final veneer.
- Once your dentist receives the proper veneer(s) from the lab, they will make sure it fits correctly and is the right shade to match your other teeth. Your dentist can make any adjustments the veneer may need.
- Once the veneer is ready, your dentist will clean the tooth and, with the help of a bonding agent, place the veneer on the tooth.
- A special light will be applied to the veneer to dry it quickly and bond it to your tooth.
- Finally, the veneer will be examined, adjusted, and cleaned to ensure proper function.
There are some at-home whitening products on the market that are popular. It is still important that you speak to your dentist before you begin using these products. The ADA has a list of safe at-home whitening products that you should view before buying.
But remember, the easiest way to keep a healthy smile is through proper dental hygiene at home and routine dentist appointments.