Tooth whitening is one of the most common dental services that you can get, and it’s something you can do to some degree at home yourself. Going to a dentist’s office will give you a deeper, more thorough whitening, though.
What does it take to make a tooth white?
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic stains
The first thing to understand is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic tooth discoloration.
Intrinsic tooth discoloration is staining inside the tooth itself. For example, with age, enamel tends to thin and teeth get darker naturally. Intrinsic staining can also come during tooth development in early childhood. There are a few less common causes for intrinsic stains, too. These stains can’t really be removed mechanically.
Extrinsic stains can. These include stains like calcified dental plaque, tobacco, coffee, tea, red wine, betel and other compounds, with plaque being the most common.
Toothpaste often contains peroxide and abrasive particles that can help with staining, but there’s only so much you can do at home with regular tooth cleaning. Sometimes more is needed.
The whitening process
Most tooth whitening, including the procedure we perform at our office, uses a peroxide whitening gel that will remove staining. You can buy products that use a similar agent for home use but the version used in a dentist’s office is stronger. Because of the extra strength, it can damage gums. That means it has to be applied by a qualified professional, who will put protection around the gums to make sure there isn’t any overrun onto vulnerable areas of the mouth.
It should take around an hour for a whitening, and depending on how severe the staining is it may take multiple applications. The new, cleaner, brighter surface may not last, especially if you make a habit of eating or drinking substances that tend to stain teeth. Custom whitening trays at home can maintain results and continue to further whiten teeth.
Whitening is a reasonably quick, painless process that will brighten your smile. If your smile’s getting a little dim, call our office and set up an appointment. We’ll help you keep your teeth in top shape.