Most people aspire to have bright, attractive teeth. Teeth whitening is one of the most in-demand cosmetic procedures done at a dentist’s office. Nowadays, there are more options for teeth whitening than it did decades ago. Advances in technology have made teeth whitening procedures even with a single session. Let’s explore the options available to have those pearly whites.
Teeth whitening in the dentist’s office
Teeth whitening is best done by a professional. The dentist is the right person to perform the procedure. Dental hygienists and dental therapists can also do the procedure with the dentist’s prescription.
Depending on the availability, the dentist may apply a gel or a solution –usually hydrogen peroxide– to the teeth. Then heat or light such as a laser is applied to activate the whitening solution.
Another option is that the dentist will fit you with a mouthguard, apply a bleaching agent and send you home after teaching you how to apply it yourself for a set number of sessions. You are then instructed to come back for a follow-up visit.
Some dental offices have equipment that can lighten your teeth in one visit in just a couple of hours.
There are a lot of available over-the-counter preparations that can let you whiten your teeth by yourself at home. These kits may come in the form of gel, solutions, or strips. Most of them, like professional products, are also peroxide-based.
Before you attempt to DIY at home, you should seek your dentist’s advice first as teeth whitening is not a one-size-fits-all. Some people are not good candidates for teeth whitening due to tooth decay, unhealthy gums, or sensitive teeth.
Read the instructions and chemical components to see if you might be allergic to any of them.
Products infused with whitening agents
There are kinds of toothpaste available that have peroxide or baking soda. While the result is not as dramatic as professional whitening, they do have the ability to whiten the teeth one shade lighter.
Who can avail of teeth lightening procedures and products?
Whitening is most effective for people with yellow teeth. This indicates that there is staining in the enamel or outermost part of the teeth.
People with darkly stained teeth might have tooth discoloration due to causes other than staining. Teeth whitening agents and bleaches will not work for them. A damaged nerve root can cause a tooth to turn dark brown, purple, or black.
Teeth whitening should only be performed on healthy teeth and gums. People with tooth decay and gingivitis should first seek treatment for their condition before bleaching their teeth. The dentist will also advise you against it, thus reinforcing the importance of a dental evaluation.
What are the things to watch out for during teeth whitening procedures?
Aside from the already-mentioned allergic reactions, chemical burns on the gums are also possible. This usually happens when the solution is kept in the mouth longer than it should.
There might also be a worsening of sensitivity for people with sensitive teeth.
If you are having your teeth done in a facility, it is prudent to verify the credentials of the person performing the procedure. Make sure they are authorized and licensed professionals like dentists, dental therapists, and dental hygienists.
What causes teeth stains?
There are various causes why our teeth turn shades darker than when we first had them as children. They are as follows:
- Coffee and dark-colored teas
- Soda and other carbonated beverages
- Wine – both red and white. It is the tannin in white that causes the discoloration.
- Fruits that have dark juices like berries
- Foods with deep-colored sauces. Examples are tomato sauce and curries.
- Too much fluoride. You read that right. While fluoride is good for building strong teeth, it can cause staining in excessive amounts.
It is standard procedure to avoid these items after teeth bleaching if you want to keep your teeth white longer.
How much does teeth whitening cost?
This depends on whether you are opting for a top-of-the-line professional procedure or doing it by yourself at home. Home dental whitening kits may come as affordable as $10 while a high-end facility may charge up to $1000 for the procedure.
The results will also vary on how deeply stained your teeth are. In the long run, it is always better to be safe than sorry. What may come cheap might cause you more problems and expenses later on if things don’t turn right.
Fun facts about teeth whitening
- The first whitening agent was a ground pumice stone with vinegar. This practice was being done by ancient Egyptians four centuries ago. Even in ancient civilizations, white teeth were regarded as a symbol of beauty and affluence.
- Urine was once used to whiten teeth. This was practiced by the ancient Romans. The ammonia that is present in urine acts as the bleaching agent because of its acidity. Sounds scientific enough but quite disgusting. Anything for beauty, eh?
- Barbers used to perform teeth whitening procedures. People used to get their sparking smiles from the same shop that cuts their hair. Teeth surfaces are made to roughen up with a metal file. Nitric acid was then applied after, which acts as the bleaching agent. It didn’t bode well for the customers in the end as this led to enamel stripping and tooth decay.
- Hydrogen peroxide was discovered as a teeth whitening agent during gum treatments. Dentists treating gum disease using hydrogen peroxide in the 19th century made this significant observation. This paved the way for the modern teeth whitening procedures that we know today.
Human beings have always valued beauty and will sometimes go to great lengths to polish their looks. Throughout history, mankind has associated good looks with wealth and power. The things that people do in the name of beauty can be beyond mind-blowing. You do not need to be a mega-millionaire though to achieve healthy-looking pearly whites. Tons of options are now available for all kinds of budgets. All you have to do is find one that fits your needs and pocket.