Over time, your teeth may become yellowed or stained due to several factors. Certain habits, such as drinking coffee or smoking, can contribute to the yellowing of your teeth. Aging and tooth decay can also play a role in the changing color of your teeth. Changing your tooth color back to its original color can sometimes be done with over-the-counter products; however, the methods us dentists use are much more effective.
Candidates for Teeth Whitening
Your dentist can evaluate whether you may qualify for a professional teeth whitening process. For most people, the process of teeth whitening will work, at least to a degree. However, there are exceptions for those who don’t qualify.
If you have veneers or tooth-colored fillings on your teeth, they will not whiten. These dental repair tools come in a specific color, which cannot be changed. Others who don’t qualify are those who are pregnant due to the possible dangers to the fetus and the changing nature of a pregnant woman’s body. Always talk to your dentist about teeth whitening to determine if you are a good candidate.
Process for Teeth Whitening
During a typical teeth whitening process with hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, your dentist isolates your teeth from the surrounding gums and other tissue, including your cheeks and tongue. This keeps the peroxide away from these areas on your teeth. He applies the solution to your teeth and allows it to sit for 30 to 60 minutes to attain the desired shade. A light or other heating source may be used to speed up the process.
After the treatment sits for the designated amount of time, he will rinse your mouth with water and apply a fluoride treatment to your teeth. This treatment helps to close the pores in the tooth enamel. It is best to avoid foods that may stain for several days after your treatment to prevent new discoloration.
While the application of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide is the most common, dentist sometimes use other methods as well. Internal bleaching is a process through which the dentist injects the bleach solution directly into the teeth to whiten from the inside. This process is typically only used when the tooth has had a root canal or similar procedure. Some dental offices also use lasers to activate the peroxide applied to the teeth for faster results.
Potential Side Effects
While the teeth whitening process is fairly harmless, you may experience some minor side effects for a few days following your procedure. Possible side effects include:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
- Sore throat or other minor mouth irritations
- Gum discomfort
- Erosion of tooth enamel due to overuse of the product
Choosing to get your teeth whitened professionally by a dentist is a personal decision. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products make it easy to do at home. However, a professional whitening can be more effective with faster results that last for up to three years.