What is Cosmetic Teeth Whitening Treatment?
Teeth whitening is a highly effective and conservative cosmetic dentistry treatment that whitens discolored teeth.
Teeth whitening is probably the #1 elective cosmetic dental procedure. Whitening tends to be inexpensive, very effective, and produces speedy cosmetic results.
Many patients turn to teeth whitening to improve their appearance and boost their self-confidence.
Treatment success will be different for every patient. Everyone has a different smile. Some characteristics include tooth opacity, the translucency of teeth, shine, and the way light reacts to your teeth. Some patients require extra teeth whitening treatments to see the desired results, while others require less treatment time.
The market contains many very effective teeth whitening products to choose. These range from in-office treatments to at-home whitening kits to teeth whitening toothpaste. You can now lighten your teeth quickly and effectively, even in your own home.
What Causes Discolored Teeth & Staining?
The color of your natural teeth is dependent on many factors. These include your lifestyle, diet, habits, and dental hygiene practices. We can separate tooth discoloration types into two categories:
Extrinsic tooth stains – are superficial stains on the surface of our teeth (affecting the enamel layer) that you naturally pick up during daily activities. Caused by eating and drinking foods or beverages like tea, coffee, and red wine. Tobacco products are also a major culprit of extrinsic staining.
Intrinsic tooth stains – are deeper stains that develop down into the 2nd layer of our teeth (dentin). Intrinsic type staining is much more difficult to remove than the shallower enamel level stains (extrinsic). This discoloration is commonly caused by excessive fluoride use and certain medications (for example, tetracycline).
The primary causes of all tooth discoloration include:
- Genetics – Everyone is born with different colored teeth and tooth anatomical structures, which affect our tooth color.
- Cancer treatments – Some cancer treatments can cause tooth discoloration. These treatments can include chemotherapy and radiation.
- Natural aging – As people get older, the outer layer of enamel naturally wears down, which results in discolored teeth and yellowing of teeth.
- Metal dental restorations – Metal restorations (silver dental restorations) can cause black tooth discoloration.
- Certain medications – These can include Tetracycline, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications.
- Tobacco products – Over-continued usage of smoking or chewing tobacco can cause tooth discoloration. Dentists recommend quitting for a whiter and healthier smile.
- Taking Tetracycline while pregnant – Mothers who take Tetracycline (antibiotics) while pregnant cause tooth discoloration in their children’s developing teeth.
- Fluoride Intake – Excessive fluoride consumption can cause discoloration.
How Does Teeth Whitening Treatment Work?
Teeth whitening treatments generally use either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active ingredient. Research has shown that these two chemicals are effective and safe as teeth whitening agents (as long as they aren’t overused or misused).
Hydrogen peroxide works to whiten your teeth by oxidizing them. Since our teeth are porous, your enamel and dentin can easily absorb the peroxide-containing whitening gels. The results lead to whiter and a more vibrant t.
In less than two weeks, at-home teeth whitening kits can give you similar results as a professional whitening treatment.
Most whitening treatments will not cause significant changes to your tooth enamel. However, some forms of treatment can cause tooth sensitivity and alterations in enamel if you leave the gel on your teeth for too long.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
With research-backed evidence on teeth whitening treatments, professional and over-the-counter teeth whitening solutions are safe and effective.
However, the critical safety factor is doing it correctly and following the directions exactly as instructed.
Do not overuse any whitening products or use high concentrations of a whitening gel at home without supervision. This can increase tooth sensitivity, gingival tissue irritation, or enamel erosion (irreversible enamel damage).
Most at-home teeth whitening products typically contain between 5 to 10 % hydrogen peroxide or 35 % carbamide peroxide. These products are applied for 10 to 30 minutes for multiple days in a row. These treatments are considered very safe.
In-office treatments contain 25 to 40 % hydrogen peroxide and stay on your teeth for a much shorter time. A dentist completes these treatments. Only needed every six months to a year.
Are Whitening Toothpastes Safe to Use?
Some whitening toothpaste is highly abrasive and should not be used for more than four weeks at a time. Overuse of teeth whitening agents can lead to enamel erosion and damage to your teeth. Abrasive toothpaste is also not very effective for whitening your teeth. They only can remove stained plaque and are not able to penetrate the enamel.
Types of Teeth Whitening Treatment
Popular teeth whitening treatments include:
Professional Teeth Whitening (In-Office Treatment)
These treatments are highly effective and will provide the fastest whitening results.
All whitening treatments have a similar active ingredient (hydrogen or carbamide peroxide) and may or may not use light as a heat source.
They take about 30-60 minutes and can make your tooth color a minimum of two to three shades lighter in one quick visit. In the office, whitening is highly effective and safe because you are being supervised by a dental professional.
At-Home Whitening Solutions (Dentist Supervised)
These teeth whitening treatments will take longer than professional whitening treatments, and results will vary. The following are what will happen in this type of treatment:
-Dentist will take impressions for the fabrication of custom teeth whitening trays. Customized trays designed for your smile. These trays have the advantage of being safer for your gingival tissues.
-On your return visit, you will receive your custom trays and be given detailed instructions on using the whitening gel. It is critical not to overfill the tray when whitening. A little goes a long way.
-You will wear the trays for about two weeks and about 8-10 hours per day. Some patients choose to wear them while sleeping. If tooth sensitivity develops, call your dentist immediately.
Over-The-Counter Whitening Products
Over-the-counter whitening products are by far the cheapest whitening option. Although more affordable, the whitening results are not equal to the 1st two options.
This category’s common whitening products include whitening strips and gels, whitening toothpaste, and even certain mouthwashes. These whitening products are not ideal for those who want quick results because they take longer to work.
Whitening pens are great for those on the go. A compact whitening pen can fit in your bag or pocket and only require a few minutes a day of whitening. They are also reasonably inexpensive.
While convenient, you must use whitening pens consistently to maintain results.
At-Home vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
At-home teeth whitening is a much cheaper alternative to professional teeth whitening. The trade-off is that the whitening takes longer and is not as effective.
Professional whitening treatments generally need a touch-up every six months to three years. Over-the-counter products, like gels and whitening strips, must be used consistently to see any actual results.
The American Dental Association recommends talking with your dentist before beginning any at-home whitening regimen. Some products, if misused, can cause gum irritation, tooth sensitivity, and enamel erosion.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
The cost of teeth whitening treatment is totally dependent on the treatment chosen. Whitening is generally not covered by dental insurance. Approximate costs are as follows:
Professional teeth whitening $600-$1,400 (per treatment)
Teeth whitening trays and gels $250-$550 (reusable tray)
Over-the-counter teeth whitening products (including whitening strips, toothpaste, mouthwash) Range from $15-$100
How Long Does Whitening Last?
How long teeth whitening results last depends on a few individual factors. For example, your diet, lifestyle, habits, and the type of whitening treatment used all impact effectiveness.
For at-home treatments, the recommendation is to get a refresher whitening treatment every six months or so. In professional treatments, you typically will not need another treatment for a year or longer.
Teeth Whitening Side Effects
–Tooth sensitivity is the #1 side effect of teeth whitening. Sensitivity happens because the dentin layer of your teeth becomes exposed during the bleaching process. Dentin is the layer below your enamel.
For over-the-counter whitening, the sensitivity will generally go away when you stop whitening treatment.
For professional whitening, your dentist can take steps to avoid and/ treat any sensitivity that may develop.
-Gingival Tissue Irritation can also happen when the whitening gel comes into contact with your gingival tissue. This discomfort typically disappears quickly (within 24 to 48 hours) when you stop whitening. It will reappear if the gel touches the gums before complete healing.
Who Should Avoid Whitening?
Even though whitening is safe and effective when used correctly, it is not recommended for all patients:
- Small children – children who still have primary teeth should not undergo whitening treatment because their gums, teeth, and jaws are still in development.
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers – The chemicals can be harmful to unborn children and should be avoided during this time.
- Previous restorative treatment – dental restorations, including crowns, porcelain veneers, and fillings, will not lighten because they are made of dental composite, porcelain, or metal. Only your natural tooth structure will be able to change color while undergoing teeth whitening.
- Presence of Tooth Decay, gum disease, and exposed tooth roots: if you have periodontal disease, tooth decay, gum recession, or worn enamel, teeth whitening treatment is generally not a good idea until your dental health is optimal.
Tips for Preventing Tooth Discoloration
Neglecting at-home dental hygiene (e.g., brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash) can cause tooth stains to develop over time.
To prevent tooth discoloration, follow these dental tips:
- Go for professional cleanings at least twice a year
- Do not smoke or use tobacco products
- Avoid junk food and artificially colored substances
- Brush your teeth at least 2x per day and floss at bedtime
- Limit your consumption of staining products like red wine, soda, tea, coffee, any foods with dyes.
- Use whitening toothpaste and mouthwash a few times per week
- Whiten your teeth on occasion with over-the-counter or professional products
Finally, creating the smile you have always dreamed of will be an exciting journey, as well as a journey that can be a bit nerve-wracking. It’s a big step to take, after all! Marielaina Perrone DDS wants you to experience the comfort and confidence that comes from a beautiful, healthy smile. Dr. Perrone takes a gentle, individualized approach to all dental care coupled with advanced technology to provide you with a convenient and pleasant visit every time we see you walk through the door.
Contact Marielaina Perrone DDS at (702) 458-2929 to schedule a no-cost cosmetic consultation appointment if you are ready for a smile makeover, teeth whitening, or dental implants. We cannot wait to help you with your smile makeover to create the smile of your dreams in Summerlin, Henderson, and Las Vegas, NV.