Tooth discoloration can happen naturally over time as food and drinks create stains on and within our teeth. If you’re smiling less because of this discoloration, teeth whitening is a simple, straightforward procedure that you can embrace that will give you a more confident smile and return your teeth to their original brilliance.
With few exceptions, even the darkest tooth shades can be improved using a variety of in-home or in-office teeth whitening methods. But, how does teeth whitening actually work? And, how do you know which method will help you achieve the best results?
How Does Teeth Whitening Break Up Stains?
Teeth whitening methods, including bleaching methods and whitening toothpastes are usually aimed at breaking up stains that are either intrinsic, within the tooth, or extrinsic, on the enamel.
Many of the different bleach materials that your dentist may use on your teeth at their office or give you for in-home use, are capable of penetrating the porous layer of your enamel and improving the stains deeper within your teeth. When effective whitening has taken place, the whitened layer of the tooth is then reflected through the enamel.
Topical, or extrinsic, whitening efforts take aim at stains that sit atop of your tooth enamel. Enamel, is a clear, protective layer that covers each tooth, but is still capable of staining. Usually, these extrinsic stains are the ones that build up over time from food and drinks, like red wine, cola, chocolate and berries.
What Are Typical Teeth Whitening Procedures?
Three of the major types of whitening methods include:
Zoom whitening efforts are essentially a branded version of laser teeth whitening. During this in-office procedure a whitening gel is applied to the teeth and is accelerated by UV light. The higher concentration of Zoom hydrogen peroxide gel coupled with the UV or laser light helps to speed up the whitening process and requires fewer treatments to achieve results. Many patients report seeing an improvement of 2-3 shades after a single visit.
In-home bleach trays are usually custom made by your dentist to fit your mouth. When you want to whiten your teeth, a bleach gel, usually a concentration of either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, is applied to the tray. Then, the tray is worn for a number of hours as it works to penetrate the stains within your teeth. These whitening trays are a cost-effective method to whiten your teeth at your convenience, however, it can take longer to achieve the same results as a laser whitening or Zoom whitening procedure.
Over-the Counter Whitening
Additional in-home teeth whitening options include whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes and whitening strips, all of which can be found in your local pharmacy and used without prescription or oversight from your dentist. Thus, the strength of these whitening products is inferior to the treatments conducted by your dentist or when using personal bleach trays and will take longer to achieve similar results.
Teeth Whitening for a Bright and Confident Smile
Teeth whitening is an accessible means to achieve a whiter, brighter smile. No matter the method used, it’s quite common for teeth whitening procedures to heighten sensitivities within the mouth and irritate the gums. For this reason, it’s important to seek the guidance of your dentist when you want to improve the appearance of your teeth and eliminate existing stains safely and quickly.