Tooth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure aimed at lightening teeth and removing stains or discoloration. Many factors could contribute to staining and discoloration of your teeth, including the effects of age, specific medication as well as foods you consume. Everyone wants a bright and attractive smile, which can be attained by professional teeth whitening. However, teeth whitening is not a one-time process. You will require to visit the dentist a few times so that you can maintain the desired color of the teeth. If you feel that your teeth need whitening, it would be wise to visit a competent dentist to receive professional whitening. At Washington Dental, we provide quality teeth whitening services and other dental care services to residents of Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita, CA.

Overview of Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that helps to remove stains and correct discoloration of teeth. This procedure will improve your outlook as well as brighten your smile. Tooth whitening can either be done in the dental office or at home. However, regardless of the method that you decide to use, it is essential to seek advice from a competent dentist. Whitening is not a one-time procedure. Therefore, you may be required to repeat the process several times so that you can maintain a brighter color.

For office whitening, your dentist will take a picture of your teeth to track the progress of the whitening process. Your teeth will be cleaned to remove the film of bacteria that builds on the teeth. Even when you want to do the home whitening, you will need to visit a dentist. The dentist will make trays of whitening gel, which you will be required to apply for two to three weeks. If you are planning to do a home whitening, ensure you follow all doctors’ instructions to avoid overuse and damage of teeth.

The outer layer of the tooth is the primary determinant of tooth color. This color is created by light reflecting on the enamel and dentine. The texture of your enamel will determine the color of your teeth. When a thin coat known as pellicle forms on the tooth surface, it may attract stains. The pores in the enamel can also hold stains and dirt, causing discoloration. Sometimes the blotches are intrinsic and can form from long term exposure of fluoride. Moreover, these stains will develop if a pregnant mother costumes too much fluoride during the second trimester. Also, fluoride will stain the teeth of children younger than eight years.

Reasons for Getting Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening cannot completely change the color of your teeth, but it can lighten the shade of your teeth. People get teeth whitening for different reasons, including:

  1. To remove the yellowing of the teeth. Teeth can get discolored from consuming dark drinks and other foods that stick to your teeth enamel. Also, particular medication can cause the formation of the pellicle, which will attract stains. Teeth whitening can offset tooth discoloration caused by tartar or the effects of drugs.
  2. To aid in smoking cessation. Smoking can damage your teeth and put you at risk of developing oral health problems. Tooth whitening will help target tooth discoloration caused by smoking to make your mouth healthier. Also, whitening your teeth may help you quit smoking since you will be reluctant to ruin your new teeth.
  3. Curb the effects of aging. As age catches up with you, your tooth enamel may wear down, making it easy for dirt to accumulate and cause discoloration. Teeth whitening is an excellent way to offset the effects of aging and help you to maintain a pleasant and healthy smile.
  4. Special occasions. Your smile can have a significant effect on your daily life. Teeth whitening helps ensure your smile is bright and healthy for important events you may be intending to attend. For instance, a sparkling smile can portray enthusiasm, energy, and confidence, increasing your chances of success in a job interview.
  5. Diet choices. If your diet contains a lot of colored drinks like tea, wine, or coffee, your teeth may get stained over the years. Sharp tooth discoloration caused by some of these foods are difficult to remove, and many people prefer tooth whitening.
  6. Boosts self-esteem. A smile plays a significant role in your self-confidence. Most people with discolored teeth always have to smile consciously due to the appearance of their teeth. Teeth whitening will brighten your smile and boost your confidence.

Regardless of the reason for which you want to get tooth whitening, it is essential to visit a dentist for a checkup. This will help you to make an informed decision on the method of teeth whitening you want to use. Underlying dental problems may affect the success of tooth whitening. Also, if you have dental cavities, the condition will require treatment before you proceed with the teeth whitening procedures. This is because the tooth whitening substances may pass through the broken areas and reach the exposed parts of the tooth.

If the whitening substances come in contact with your tooth roots and gums, you may develop tooth sensitivity. Also, tooth whitening does not work efficiently of porcelain veneers and crowns.

Common Teeth Whitening Procedures

The appearance of your teeth has a high impact on your confidence. People whose teeth are in bad shape will tend to hide their smiles because they are self-conscious. Fortunately, there are different types of teeth whitening procedures that you can undergo to correct discoloration and brighten your smile. A specific teeth whitening procedure will not work on all kinds of teeth. The method to use is greatly determined by the type of stains you hope to eliminate from your teeth as well as the shade of color you want to attain. Below are the most common methods of teeth whitening.

Teeth Whitening Gels and Strips

Teeth whitening gels and strips are over-the-counter teeth whitening products that contain hydrogen peroxide. This is the most common type of tooth whitening where the gel has to be applied on the tooth surface using a brush. The specific amount of gel to be applied will be determined by the strength of the product and the severity of your condition. Gel and strip whitening can either be done at the doctor’s office or home. In-office whitening will allow your dentist to use stronger gels.

In-office whitening may take between thirty to ninety minutes since a specialized light activates the gel, making it take effect faster. Depending on the severity of the stains, you will attend one to three appointments. The dentist will first apply a protective coating for your gums. The whitening gel will then be placed and activated with laser light. The whitening gel commonly used by dentists has a buffer that protects your tooth enamel from damage. The effects of in-office whitening can last up to a year.

For home whitening, impressions will be taken from your upper and lower teeth. This will be used to make custom mouthpieces to keep the whitening substance in place. You will be required to fill the mouthpiece with the whitening gel and keep it on for several hours each day. The time you have to keep the mouthpiece with the gel on is dependent on the degree of tooth whitening you desire.

Whitening strips are similar to the gel method of bleaching. These are clear strips covered in peroxide gel. The strips are applied twice a day within a thirty minutes time frame, and the results may be seen after a few days. The effects of teeth whitening strips last up to four months.

Whitening Trays

Whitening trays can be premade or custom made. Premade whitening trays are already lined with a potent gel that whitens your teeth. You may be required to wear the plates for a few hours or days before you can notice a difference. The duration you have to put these trays on will be dependent on the type of gel applied. However, the premade trays are not specifically made for your teeth and may not fit properly. This can cause oozing of the gel and result in irritation of the gums.

Custom-made whitening trays are similar to the premade trays, both in cost and application. However, the custom made plates are a more effective and safe teeth whitening method. Since these trays are specifically made for your teeth, there will be no space for the leaking of the gel and irritation of your gums. Also, the custom made trays have a higher concentration of peroxide, which will give you better whitening results.

Tooth Whitening Toothpaste

Most toothpaste uses mild abrasives to help remove stains from the surface. This is the reason you need to brush at least twice a day to keep your teeth clean and healthy. There are kinds of toothpaste made specifically for teeth whitening. This toothpaste uses special polishing agents or chemicals which enhance the whitening element of the toothpaste.

However, it is essential to understand that the tooth whitening toothpaste does not change the color of your teeth. By effectively removing surface stains, they enhance the color of your teeth. You will not be able to notice a change right away since the tooth whitening effect will kick in after several weeks. Some of these teeth whitening methods will not produce a difference in teeth that have undergone a tooth canal. This is because, for these teeth, the stains come from the inside.

For teeth with a root canal, your dentist will use a teeth whitening procedure that will work on the tooth from the inside. The whitening agent will be placed inside the tooth and sealed with a temporary filling that is left for a few days. This procedure will be repeated until your tooth attains the desired shade.

It is crucial to understand that tooth whitening is not a permanent procedure. The discoloration and stains may return if you don’t leave the habits that cause staining. If you are able to maintain healthy habits, your tooth may remain in good condition for 6 to 12 months, depending on the method of whitening used. After this period has elapsed, you will require to whiten the teeth again, so they remain in the desired shade of color. Whitening may be done at home or at the dentist’s office depending on your preference and the plan you made with your dentist.

Benefits of Teeth Whitening

Everyone would love to have a natural and white looking smile. However, the world and the lifestyles we live present threats of tooth discoloration and staining. Attaining the white teeth is not as difficult as people think. Teeth whitening results will depend on the type of stains you have and the shade of white you want to attain. The following are some of the benefits you get from whitening your teeth:

  1. Teeth whitening makes you look younger. Tooth whitening is the most uncomplicated anti-aging procedure you can undergo. White teeth are associated with youth and beauty. With whiter teeth, you will look younger when you smile. Most anti-aging procedures are expensive, and you may be required to undergo painful surgeries. If you desire to look younger, tooth whitening may be the most effective and safe anti-aging treatment available.
  2. Improves your oral health. Teeth whitening is a process that makes your smile look pleasant. If you undergo the whitening procedure, you are likely to take better care of your teeth to maintain the pleasing look. While you are adopting a healthy lifestyle to protect your whitened teeth, you will avoid dental complications. This will improve your overall dental health.
  3. Teeth whitening improves the first impression. One of the most crucial aspects of your first impression is your smile. Stained teeth may make you self-conscious and resistant to smile. This may also affect your social life because you will always seem withdrawn. Teeth whitening makes your smile whiter and more optical. This can significantly improve your first impression. Smiling at job interviews makes you look friendly and increases your chance of getting hired 
  4. Teeth whitening may boost your confidence. Yellow teeth can make you feel embarrassed about laughing or even socializing with others. Teeth whitening helps remove the stains and correct discoloration. Also, if your teeth are small in size, tooth whitening makes them look bigger and stand out while you smile. Teeth whitening may also make your teeth look straighter and improve your smile without applying expensive orthodontic devices. This will improve your self-esteem and enhance your interaction with other people.
  5. You are protecting your tooth enamel. The enamel is the outer layer of teeth which protects them from bacteria and plaque. Over time, holes form on the enamel ad attract dirt which causes staining. Fluoride, which is a crucial element of whitening products speeds up mineralization of enamel, keeping it free from the holes. This helps to strengthen the enamel and prevent staining and discoloration.
  6. You feel comfortable maintaining your teeth. When choosing the method you want to use for whitening, you can take the home maintenance kits with custom-made and pre-made trays. You can freshen your teeth when you need it. 

The benefits you accrue from teeth whitening are dependent on the method of whitening you use. If you want to brighten your smile by undergoing teeth whitening, it is essential to visit a competent dentist to help you achieve your desire. However, getting in-office teeth bleaching may produce better results compared to the home bleaching. This is because:

  • Professional whitening uses stronger products that result in thorough whitening. The technology used to whiten your teeth in the dental office can get rid of tough stains. Also, professionally whitened teeth last longer and can maintain their beauty for up to one year.
  • A professional teeth whitening procedure could be complete even after one hour. You will not be required to apply the bleaching product regularly.
  • Professional whitening is safer since the products will be custom made to fit your teeth. This will lower the risk of irritation from bleaching products oozing to your gums.
  • Over the counter teeth whitening products have a specific shade of color to which they can whiten your teeth. Getting professional teeth whitening will allow you to control the extent to which you desire to whiten your teeth. 

Possible Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

Generally, teeth whitening procedures are safe and comfortable. However, the products used for this procedure may have some short term side effects, as will be discussed below.

Undesirable Results

When you decide that you need to get your teeth whitened, it is obvious you have the desired look in mind. Depending on the initial shade of your teeth, the results of the whitening may not be what you wanted. If your teeth are heavily stained or the tooth discoloration is internal, you may notice little or no change in color after whitening. Frequent whitening of teeth, especially when using over the counter home kits may cause a gray shade on your teeth. Everyone desires a creamy white shade of your teeth, and sometimes you do not achieve this after whitening. Also, whitening may fail to work on teeth with fillings, veneers, or crowns.

Irritation of the Soft Tissues

Soft tissue irritation, also known as a chemical burn, occurs when the chemicals used in teeth whitening comes into contact with the gum tissues. Chemical injury mostly happens when you use pre-made trays. Since these trays are not made specifically for your teeth, the gel may leak and reach your gums. When the burn occurs, your gums may turn white immediately after coming in contact with these chemicals.

The burn and irritation are often more severe if you are exposed to the in-office teeth whitening solution. This is because professional teeth whitening uses stronger chemicals. The tissues may not get back to normal for a while, and it can be scary when your gums come in contact with these strong solutions. Prolonged exposure to the whitening gels can cause inflammation and redness of the area affected by the solution. In severe conditions, exposure to teeth whitening solutions can cause severe pain and bleeding of the gum tissue.

Damage to the Tooth Enamel

Teeth are an essential aspect of our appearance, and everyone wants their teeth to be Pearl white. While teeth whitening removes stains and discoloration on the teeth. It works by removing a small amount of the tooth enamel layer. When used moderately, the amount of enamel removed is not significant and doesn’t pose a risk. However, excessive use of the whitening products eliminates a layer of the enamel, exposing your teeth to decay and cavities.

If you try to apply teeth whitening on a tooth with a cavity or decay, the tooth decay could get worse and cause a lot of pain. This is because, for these types of teeth, the bleaching has to be done from the inside of the tooth.

Tooth Sensitivity

During the whitening process, the dentin of your teeth is exposed. This may contribute to tooth sensitivity during and after the whitening process. If you have a tooth sensitivity problem, it is vital to get advice from a dentist before you decide to whiten your teeth. Your dentist can counsel you on the best methods available for you to prevent the worsening of your condition.

Not all tooth whitening products can work for your teeth. Before you decide to undergo whitening, it would be wise to consult a dentist to examine you and determine if you are a candidate for these procedures.

Get Professional Teeth Whitening Services from a Specialist Near Me

Discoloration of teeth is something that can happen without you realizing it. Teeth whitening is a safe dental cosmetic procedure, especially when administered by a qualified dentist. Stained and discolored teeth will affect your general appearance and can also affect your social life. If you are hoping to get quality, professional teeth whitening services, consider visiting our dentists at Washington Dental. We have offices in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita, CA.