What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is the number one most popular cosmetic dental treatment in the U.S.. It is a non-invasive procedure that improves the color of your teeth.
Is teeth whitening safe?
Teeth whitening is considered extremely safe. Over the counter and take-home whitening kits contain very low doses of whitening agent that are safe to be used by non-professionals, although we do advise that you only use over-the-counter kits that have been endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA). You should also ensure that take-home trays are provided by licensed, professional dentists.
If you are choosing to have your treatment done in-office, then you should ensure that you select a qualified dentist who is experienced in teeth whitening procedures.
What stains can I expect teeth-whitening products or services to remove?
If you choose to have your teeth whitened, you can expect to see the improvement or total removal of stains primarily caused by:
- Tobacco use
- The consumption of certain staining foods and beverages including coffee, red wine, and dark or strongly colored fruits and vegetables
- Aging. As we get older our teeth may take on a yellow, grey, green, or brown hue.
What stains won’t be removed by teeth whitening products or services?
Unfortunately, some stains are resistant to even the strongest teeth whitening agents. These include:
- Teeth that have suffered trauma that has caused the dentin inside the tooth to darken
- Teeth affected by fluorosis
- Teeth with inorganic stains
- Teeth that are discolored from any form of internal damage
Are there any groups of people who are not suitable candidates for teeth whitening?
There are some patients who may not be suitable candidates for teeth whitening. These include but are not limited to:
- Patients who have teeth that have become transparent as part of the aging process.
- Patients who have very extensive or intractable staining, as bleaching is unlikely to solve these problems.
- Patients who are sensitive to peroxide.
- Patients who have ultra-sensitive teeth or gums, which may be irritated by the chemicals used in the whitening process.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Not enough research has been done on the effect of whitening agents on unborn or nursing babies.
If you are in any doubt, speak to your dentist who will be able to advise you of your suitability for teeth whitening.
What sort of results can I expect to see?
The results of teeth whitening can vary dramatically and are largely affected by your age, lifestyle, and genetics. Over-the-counter and take-home whitening kits do not produce a result as strong or as long-lasting as in-office treatments. Depending on the type of teeth whitening you choose, you can still expect your teeth to lighten by as few as two and as many as twelve shades.
How long does an in-office teeth whitening procedure take?
After your initial consultation, you can expect in-office teeth whitening to take between one and two hours to complete. The exact time will depend on the extent of staining to your teeth, and the amount of exposure to the cleaning chemicals that is needed.
If the desired result is still not reached, your dentist may recommend either a take-home tray of additional treatment or follow up procedures in the office. However, the majority of patients will see dramatic results instantly.
If you opt for over-the-counter or take-home whitening kits, you can expect to spend at least two weeks using your equipment overnight.
How long do the results of teeth whitening last?
On average you can expect to have whiter teeth for 6 to 9 months after your teeth whitening procedure. However, the length of time that you maintain your result is largely down to your age and lifestyle choices. Good oral hygiene is essential for looking after both the health and whiteness of your teeth, and using products such as whitening toothpaste and mouthwash can support your brighter smile. Smoking and drinking/eating products containing tannins are some of the main causes of stained teeth, so avoiding these as much as possible will help to prolong your results.
Are there any side effects I should be aware of?
Teeth whitening requires the use of chemicals in the whitening agent, and sometimes these chemicals can cause irritation or tooth sensitivity. If you experience any pain or discomfort during any form of teeth whitening treatment it is advisable to stop immediately and ask your dentist for advice.
Is teeth whitening expensive?
There is a large variety of options when it comes to whitening your teeth. These range from over the counter solutions which can cost as little as $10, up to in-office professionally handled treatment which can cost as much as $1000. Please check out our page on the cost of teeth whitening for more information.