At Bertagnolli Dental in Denver, a common question we get from patients is, should I get teeth whitening? To be honest, your dentist cannot make that decision for you. We can certainly give you information about the procedure, costs, and effectiveness, but in the end, it is up to the individual to make the decision. If you are thinking about whitening your teeth, keep reading to find out more about the reasons why people decide to get their teeth whitened and the different methods available.
Why Are My Teeth Discolored?
The exact color of your natural tooth enamel depends on your genes, but generally, when your adult teeth first appear, they are at their whitest. Over the years, a combination of constant use, aging and staining will gradually change the color of your teeth. As the hard, white enamel wears away, the darker inner layers of your tooth become more visible, creating a grayer appearance. A buildup of stains from tea, coffee, red wine or tobacco can also dull the natural color of your teeth. While some people worry that yellowing or darkening tooth enamel is a sign of poor hygiene, it is a natural process that occurs over time.
Some other causes of tooth discoloration, and reason patients consider teeth whitening, include grinding your teeth, which can cause the enamel to be worn away faster and result in tiny cracks on the tooth’s surface. Certain antibiotics taken before the age of eight can produce tooth discoloration as a side effect. Also, overexposure to fluoride as a child can result in permanent staining of the adult teeth, a condition known as dental fluorosis. An injury to a tooth can cause the root to die and significantly change the color of the tooth. While some of the causes of tooth discoloration are preventable, many are not.
Should I Get Teeth Whitening?
When it comes to teeth, everyone is different. Some people are extremely unsatisfied with the gradual discoloration of their teeth, whereas others are not affected in the slightest. If having discolored teeth has an adverse impact on your self-image and confidence, it is worthwhile considering professional teeth whitening as a solution. Some people are so embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth that they avoid smiling for photos or avoid social situations. As you can imagine, this has a severely limiting effect on their professional and personal life.
Teeth whitening is a highly effective way of restoring the bright white appearance of your teeth. For some people, tooth discoloration may only occur at the tops or bottoms of the teeth, or they may have just a few spots or stains that bother them. Others may want to reduce an overall yellowing of the teeth that happens over time. If you are unsatisfied with the appearance of your teeth, having them whitened is a cost effective way to improve them almost instantly. Teeth whitening is a non-invasive procedure that can be done by any qualified dental professional.
Tooth Whitening at the Dentist’s Office
Once you have decided to go ahead with teeth whitening, it is time to choose which method to use. The option most recommended for first-time whiteners is the treatment offered at your dentist’s office. Your dentist is the only person capable of first evaluating your teeth to check their suitability for whitening, and deciding on the strength of solution to use. A whitening treatment at the dentist’s office usually involves a strong bleaching gel of around 40% hydrogen peroxide. This highly concentrated solution is very effective and is only administered by dental professionals.
Before applying the whitening gel, your dentist will first ensure your gum line is protected. A rubber dam is hand-painted onto your gums to ensure the gel only comes into contact with your teeth and avoids damaging the more delicate tissue of your gums. Once the chemically activated gel is applied, it will start working immediately and produce significant results in around one hour. To prolong the effect of this teeth whitening treatment, your dentist may offer you a take home kit to continue regular whitening sessions by yourself.
Some dentists offer a professionally supplied whitening kit that can be used in the comfort of your own home, at your convenience. A custom try will be created from a mold of your teeth by your dentist, and the gel will be supplied in pre-measured, easy to apply syringes. Your dentist will instruct you on the application times, which can vary from 30 minutes to overnight.
Over the Counter Kits
There are inexpensive teeth whitening kits commonly available in grocery stores and drug stores. These kits usually contain pre-made strips or a paint-on applicator with a weak solution of whitening gel to be used at home. These kits can be effective to some degree, but because of the limited strength of the product, they may produce inconsistent results. Some people are tempted to leave the gel on for longer than the recommended time and end up suffering from increased sensitivity and even gum burns. Without a tray customized to your mouth, it can be hard to apply the gel to the surfaces evenly and protect your gums from exposure.
Is Teeth Whitening Right For Me?
Before you should I get teeth whitening, consider how much time and money you want to invest in the process. When carried out in a dentist’s office, teeth whitening is fast, highly effective and should have no side effects or health risks. Unfortunately, teeth whitening is not usually covered by medical insurance as it is considered a non-essential, cosmetic procedure.
On the other hand, it is significantly cheaper and faster that orthodontic braces, veneers and other methods used to improve the appearance of teeth. Another issue to considerate is that whitening treatments will not succeed in changing the color of crowns or fillings, just the natural enamel of your teeth.
Hopefully, we have cleared up some of your concerns about this non-invasive, affordable procedure. If you are still wondering should I get teeth whitening, then feel free to schedule a consultation with one of our professionals at Bertagnolli Dental in Westminster, Colorado. We would be happy to advise you on the most suitable method to improve your smile.