Teeth cleaning for oral hygiene is not the only reason to pay a visit to your dentist. More and more people are realizing that their dentists are experts in smile correction treatments, and they are taking full advantage of the fact. There are more than a few people out there who just aren’t satisfied with their smiles. For them and others similar, cosmetic dentistry provides hope.
One of the most common treatments at a cosmetic dentist office is teeth whitening. It’s a process that has proven very effective, and can remove years of staining and discoloration from teeth. It’s important to note that the FDA makes a distinction between bleaching and whitening, with bleaching whitening beyond the natural color of the teeth.
Over the past several years, teeth whitening has become a much more popular service. There are many methods available, from services at a cosmetic dentist to over the counter methods sold only a few dollars. For a variety of reasons, methods used by dental professionals tend to be more effective and longer lasting. The common agent used in bleaching compounds is carbamide peroxide, which combines with water to create hydrogen peroxide. This substances goes into the enamel and breaks down stain deposits.
Though it’s becoming more popular, teeth whitening is nothing new. Even ancient Romans were known to whiten teeth using urine and goat milk. Let’s look a little more closely at teeth whitening:
What Causes the Stains in First Place?
Adult teeth come in already more dull than children’s teeth. This means you’ll have to work even harder to keep them looking good. There are many factors at play that can contribute to the discoloration of teeth. As you get older you’ll find that your teeth gradually darken, but whitening can help ease the process.
Here’s a quick list of things that add to discoloration
- An antibiotic call Tetracycline – commonly used to treat acne.
- Enamel hypoplasia – a defect causing thin enamel
- Fluorosis – a condition stemming from too much exposure to fluoride
- Age – teeth become more yellow and darker as you age, especially after 50
- Coffee and Tea
- Tar from cigarettes
- Wine and soda in excess
- Sports drinks
- Chewing tobacco
- Chlorhexidine – a chemical used in certain mouthwashes and toothpastes that treat for gingivitis
Clearly there are many things that threaten to darken your pearly whites. Avoiding each and over one of them is likely impossible, so it’s obvious why so many people are turning to whitening procedures.
Popular Methods for Whitening
- In-office bleaching – these procedures take place in a dentist’s office. They often use a protective layer that it light-cured and painted on the gums to cut down on the risk of burns to the soft tissue. The bleaching gel used is extremely potent and can contain up to 15% hydrogen peroxide concentration. Some offices use light-accelerated bleaching, which uses light energy to accelerate the process. It’s sometimes called power bleaching as well, as hydrogen peroxide concentrations can reach 35% in the gel used.
- Non-dental solutions – Procedures carried out in non-dental settings. Typically they’ll be seen in spas, salons, or mall kiosks. They will use similar methods to dental offices but are not permitted to use some of the same high-concentration gels. Remember as well that it is a risk anytime you have a non-dental professional working on or near your teeth. Dentists have years of training and practice that a mall kiosk operator probably doesn’t have.
- At-home solutions – The American Dental Association (ADA) has a list of over-the-counter treatments that are acceptable and safe for in-home use. There are a variety of products available, including: chewing gum, rinses, whitening strips, toothpastes, and gels. It’s important to note that the ADA does not guarantee that any of these products work.
- Natural remedies – Many people claim that a variety of natural whitening methods work well. You must be careful though, as some natural methods for whitening actually damage tooth enamel. Malic acid is a popular, natural whitening method. It can be found in apples. Celery and carrots are believed to aid in the process as well.
These are the most common types of whitening methods. It would be irresponsible not to mention that the ADA strongly recommends having your teeth looked at by a dentist before undergoing any whitening treatment, even over-the-counter methods. It’s important that you make sure your teeth and gums are in good health and that you don’t have any allergies.
It’s easy to see what teeth whitening has become so popular. It’s quite easy to find a teeth whitening dentist in your area who can do excellent work. They have proven methods that will vastly improve the quality of your smile. Be sure you have reputable dentist who works to keep you safe from side effects like chemical burns that can occur during the process and you’ll be just fine.