When you have a bright, white smile you radiate confidence. Teeth whitening is a key procedure that can develop the beautiful smile you want. Take a look at some of the facts surrounding teeth whitening so you can decide if this cosmetic procedure is right for you.
Who Can Benefit From Teeth Whitening?
Most patients can enjoy a bright, luminous smile as a result of teeth whitening. In particular, if your teeth have become stained over the years as a result of smoking or drinking coffee, a whitening procedure can work wonders to remove the stains and discolorations. Patients with yellow teeth for other reasons can also benefit. Although, if the stains are a result of disease or a reaction to a medication, the whitening process may need more intensity.
Some people should avoid teeth whitening or ask about other cosmetic options. If you’re allergic to any ingredients in the whitening materials, of course, you should avoid the procedure. Those with dead teeth, implants, dental bridges, fillings, or sensitive teeth may also need to speak with your dentist to see if teeth whitening is the right choice. In addition, children under 16 and those who are pregnant should consult Dr. Rinaldi first.
During your consultation visit, we can help identify the causes of discoloration and recommend whether teeth whitening is the right choice. Teeth whitening is more likely to work faster if your teeth are naturally a shade of yellow and slower if your teeth are a shade of yellow or gray from stains.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Teeth whitening uses peroxide-based bleaches to remove stains and create white teeth. The difference between at-home systems and the teeth whitening done in a dentist’s office comes down to the amount of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide (the bleaching agents) used. A typical at-home teeth whitening kit will contain 3% to 20% peroxide, while the in-office treatments range from 15% to 43% bleaching agent. Those strips you can buy at the drugstore, for instance, only contain a 6% solution — so it takes a longer time to see any results.
The other factor that affects the whiteness of your teeth is the amount of time the bleaching agent stays on the teeth. The longer you keep the solution on your teeth, the whiter they become. However, it’s not safe to keep high dosages of peroxide on the teeth for a long time. Doing so can result in increased tooth sensitivity and dehydration. That’s the reason the at-home kits contain less peroxide: in the dentist’s office, you have someone watching the clock for you to maintain safety.
The dentist also will use heat and/or light to intensify the whitening process and to speed it up. That means an in-office procedure is going to take less time and produce more dramatic and satisfying results.
What to Expect at Your Teeth Whitening Session
When you come to Rinaldi Dental Arts in Chevy Chase near Washington, D.C., for teeth whitening, we begin with a quick examination of your teeth to make sure they are healthy. We prepare your mouth, protecting your lips, gums, and the inside of your cheeks so they’re kept dry and separate from the hydrogen peroxide. This protects you from any discomfort.
After we paint the whitening gel on your teeth, we activate it with a light or laser, which delivers fast results by activating the oxygen within the gel. We pay careful attention to the amount of time you’re exposed to the light, limiting it to minutes at a time. You may go through several rounds of this procedure in one day, depending on the amount of whitening you’re looking for.
We also customize at-home teeth whitening trays for you to take home. This option is ideal for people who are uncomfortable spending extended periods of time in the dentist’s chair. With each tray comes detailed instructions, customized for you, on how to use the whitening trays. You’ll learn how long to keep the trays in, how much whitening gel to apply each time you use them, and everything else you need to know.
Using these trays after your initial in-office procedure can produce significantly stronger results than you’d get from an over-the-counter whitening system. Our procedures are effective, safe, and pain-free. If you feel your smile is a little too dull for your liking, this is an effective way to create a new, bright smile.
Teeth Whitening FAQs
How Long Will My Teeth Whitening Procedure Last?
In-office procedures performed by a cosmetic dentist last much longer than at-home treatments. Your dentist-applied teeth whitening should last two years, or even longer, especially if you refrain from smoking or eating and drinking foods that stain the teeth. In comparison, at-home whitening products last a few months at the most — and some only last for a few days.
How Can I Keep My Teeth White for As Long As Possible?
Brushing and flossing every day is a great start to maintaining your bright, beautiful smile. In addition, try to avoid foods and drinks that are acidic or rich in tannin. These include wine (white as well as red), carbonated beverages (both dark and light in color), sauces with strong colors (such as curry, soy sauce, and tomato sauces), many sports drinks, coffee, and black tea, and brightly colored berries. If you do partake of these foods, brush your teeth immediately afterward.
What If My Teeth Are Too Sensitive for the Procedure?
If you already know your teeth are somewhat sensitive, you can prepare ahead of time by switching to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. We can also use a less abrasive gel if we know about your situation. If you find your teeth become sensitive during the procedure, just let us know, and we’ll cut the treatment down.
Can Teeth Whitening Procedures Damage My Teeth?
Tooth enamel is the toughest tissue in the human body, so damage from any teeth whitening procedure is extremely unlikely. You may feel increased sensitivity or tenderness in your teeth for a few days, but this side effect dissipates quickly. However, the use of at-home treatment systems can damage gums if used improperly, resulting in temporarily bleached or burned gums.
Teeth whitening is one of the major steps you can take to achieve the beautiful smile that gives you confidence every day. Schedule an appointment for a teeth whitening consultation in Chevy Chase near Washington, D.C., and a checkup to begin the process.