The brightness of your smile is one of the first things that others notice about you. And even if you stick to an excellent dental hygiene regimen, teeth can lose some of their luster over time. To keep smiles looking their best, many people turn to whitening procedures, both over-the-counter and professional systems.
Not all systems are created equal, nor is any particular method right for every patient. But no matter the condition of your teeth, starting with a consultation from your dentist is the best place to begin.
Teeth Whitening Basics
Since the enamel of your teeth is porous, exposure to staining agents in food and drink over time can eventually cause your smile to become discolored in spots, or completely. Teeth whitening systems typically break up these staining particles with the use of hydrogen peroxide-based bleaching gels.
Gel is usually applied with strips or trays, and some systems use special lights to activate the chemical reaction. The procedure usually takes several applications of the whitener, and can be done over time or in one sitting. Depending on the strength of the chemicals in the gel, a whitening session can brighten teeth by four to six shades or more.
Who Benefits Most From Whitening?
Teeth whitening is an option that can be considered by anyone who is unhappy with the brightness of their smile, but some habits or activities can have a more significant impact on the teeth’s enamel.
The brightness of teeth can naturally begin to fade as one grows older. Tobacco use is a major contributor to teeth staining, as is regular or over-consumption of dark drinks like red wine, dark colas, coffee, and tea. Some spicy foods can also discolor teeth.
Injuries or trauma to teeth can also result in discoloration, as can overexposure to fluoride in childhood.
How Long Does Whitening Last?
No system is perfect, and one’s dietary habits will have an impact on how long a teeth whitening session lasts. Patients who practice proper dental hygiene and stay away from particularly staining foods and beverages can expect their whitening session to last as long as a year.
At-Home vs. In-Office Methods
Teeth whitening procedures are either conducted in-office by your dentist, or at home by yourself. Some take-home systems are prescribed by dentists, and some are purchased over-the-counter without a prescription.
- In-office procedures typically produce the best results, and can last up to a year. During an in-office procedure, your dentist will begin by thoroughly cleaning your teeth. A barrier is then placed to protect your gums from abrasion, and the whitening gel is then applied.
- Prescribed at-home whitening procedures: your dentist will usually first take an impression of your teeth, so that a custom-fit tray can be manufactured. These are filled with the whitening gel and applied at home
- Over-the-counter whitening kits are applied in a similar fashion, but aren’t specially designed to the individual. This may be a less expensive method of whitening, but can be abrasive to the gums and lasts for a shorter time period.
How Herrick Dental Can Help
Depending on your goals for your smile, our office offers whitening treatments to suit your individual needs.
Our in-office procedure involves an application of SDI’s Pola whitening system, which takes about 45 minutes to apply. For long-lasting results, we pair this with take-home whitening trays, which we will instruct you on using.
If your schedule needs more flexibility, we also can prescribe Sheer Whitening Stripes to be used at home, in a more strongly concentrated solution than over-the-counter products. Our staff will walk you through its use before you leave the office.
No matter your preference, Herrick Dental has the whitening solutions to give you a whiter, brighter smile!« Back to blog