Tooth Whitening: When, Why, and How

Teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures because it is a simple and fast way to upgrade your smile. You can see results almost immediately with a professional treatment, and many of the at-home products can help maintain that bright smile.

But is it time for you to take advantage of this treatment? What have you heard about teeth whitening and how it work?

The when, why, and how of teeth whitening isn’t a complex matter, but we understand that there is a lot of information out there on the subject. We’ll take each of these questions in turn so you can decide whether it’s time for you to come in and get the bright smile you’ve always wanted.

The When

When is it time for a whitening procedure? This may seem like an odd question because, one might say, the answer is fairly obvious: when your teeth get discolored. This is true, but there’s a little more to it than that. We know know the kinds of things that lead to discoloration and stains, so if you’re avoiding these foods and drinks, you may not need to come in as early or as often for a treatment.

The worst teeth stainers include:

  • Red wine
  • Coffee
  • Soft drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Tea
  • Berries
  • Tobacco

If some of your favorite foods and beverages fall into these categories, chances are you are going to need a teeth whitening procedure sooner rather than later. Though it is possible to delay some of the staining effects if you’re careful about brushing (or at least rinsing) after you consume these products.

It is also important to note that age itself is against you. Teeth naturally lose some of their luster after a while, and if you want to keep them nice and bright, then there will come a time when you will need a professional treatment.

The Why

When people feel like their teeth are dingy and unattractive, they’ll refrain from smiling. This is unfortunate because there are a lot of reasons to share a smile with others. It’s more than just a friendly gesture. There’s actual physiological and psychological benefits to a good grin, and a simple smile can:

  • Improve your mood
  • Make others happier
  • Leave an impression
  • Make you more approachable
  • Build better relationships
  • Help you tolerate stress
  • Make you look younger
  • Build more self-confidence

Teeth whitening removes your old excuses for hiding your smile, which means you and those around you can start experiencing some of these benefits.

The How

Teeth whitening works in one of two basic ways: bleaching or abrasion. An in-office bleaching solution uses an active agent that is much more powerful than you can get over the counter. The active ingredient is usually carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, usually in a concentration of 10 to 22%.

This type of bleaching gets deeper down into the tooth, so it is actually removing both surface and sub-surface stains. In-office solutions also use light-activated procedures, which can instantly change the color of your teeth by as many as 10 shades. It’s a simple procedure and a professional application will ensure that it won’t irritate your gums or soft tissues.

Abrasion whitening uses physical or chemical actions to remove surface stains. This includes various ingredients in toothpastes and polishing agents that you can use at home. They can be effective on those surface stains, but overuse could adversely affect the enamel of your teeth. So be sure you follow all the instructions that come with the product.

Ongoing Maintenance

Your smile is something that will require ongoing maintenance. These whitening treatments are effective, and they can last for a while, but eventually you will need to touch them up again (especially if you’re still consuming a lot of those foods and drinks that are heavy stainers).

You can extend the life of your bright new smile by following through with your daily oral hygiene and using good at-home products. Make sure you get to your annual appointments, too, because then we can work with you to determine when it might be time for another professional application.