How teeth whitening works

  • Posted on: May 22 2017

We all love a healthy, bright smile. That’s why it can be so frustrating when our teeth start to yellow with age or as the result of staining habits, foods, and drinks–like coffee, tea, soda, and wine. In fact, one of the most frequently desired treatments in our New York office is teeth whitening. Treatments for getting whiter teeth vary from patient to patient and situation to situation. When deciding which whitening approach to take, it’s important to factor in the extent of the discoloration, as well as what’s causing it to begin with. Finally, it’s important to understand exactly how teeth whitening works.

Most dental discoloration is the result of stained enamel. Despite our best efforts to brush, floss, and receive professional cleanings on a regular basis, stains happen. With time, this can alter the overall appearance of naturally white tooth enamel. The most common method of teeth whitening combats this discoloration at the surface level. Chemicals, like bleach and hydrogen peroxide, are applied to the top layer for a select amount of time and can make teeth up to seven shades brighter. Sometimes these chemicals are activated by light waves to produce an optimal update, and some methods also target more deep-surface staining.

One thing to consider when making a decision about your approach to teeth whitening is how sensitive your teeth are. Some patients report that whitening treatments increase their levels of tooth sensitivity, causing painful reactions when teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures. If you know that your teeth are already sensitive (and you definitely would know!), we can think of a whitening method that will help reduce this pain. It might be as simple as combining the whitening routine with a toothpaste created with tooth sensitivity in mind or increasing the amount of time between whitening treatments.

In recent years, at-home whitening products, including toothpastes, gels, and strips, have gained in popularity for their convenience and affordability. Although they do provide moderate results, the approach is built to be one-size-fits-all. If you are looking for a way to brighten your smile from the comfort of your own space, consider coming in for custom bleach splints that are shaped to your mouth and provide longer-lasting results than you get with an over-the-counter purchase.

Unfortunately, there is no chemical solution that permanently whitens teeth. Even the most advanced in-office treatment will only last up to a year before stains start to take hold once again. There is, however, a non-chemical method that can give permanent whitening results. If your teeth are severely discolored, it’s possible to simply cover up the damage with porcelain veneers. These tooth-colored ceramic shells are customized to match the shape of your teeth and deliver a beautiful smile.

You deserve the smile that you are proud of showing off. If discoloration is getting in the way of that goal, take comfort in the fact that you have options to treat it. Regardless of how your teeth became stained, we can work with you to come up with a solution.

Posted in: Teeth Whitening