Teeth WhiteningAnnapolis, MD
Teeth whitening treatment is a cosmetic dental procedure that lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. The teeth whitening process involves using a bleaching agent (usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide) to break down the pigments that cause staining, resulting in a brighter, whiter smile.
Professional whitening treatments performed by dentists are a lot more effective than over-the-counter whitening products. Dentists have access to highly concentrated products that are not sold to the public, leading to faster results.
There are two types of teeth whitening treatments: in-office teeth whitening and at-home teeth whitening. In-office teeth whitening is performed by a dentist or their assistant and uses more potent bleaching agents than at-home teeth whitening kits (which are still more potent than OTC teeth whiteners).
As a result, in-office teeth whitening treatments tend to produce faster and more dramatic results. However, they are also more expensive than at-home teeth whitening kits. According to the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry, a single in-office whitening treatment can improve the color of a patient's teeth by up to eight shades. It would take at least a few weeks of daily whitening for at-home whitening kits to produce similar results.
Dentists provide at-home teeth whitening kits, which are still more potent than anything you can purchase over-the-counter. These kits use lower concentrations of bleaching agents than in-office produces, so they take longer to produce results. However, they are more affordable than in-office teeth whitening treatments.
What to expect when getting teeth whitening treatments
Teeth whitening treatments are non-invasive treatments with little risk of side effects. The most common side effect of teeth whitening is increased sensitivity that lasts a few days. Dentists can help reduce sensitivity following teeth whitening products by performing fluoride treatments after whitening teeth to strengthen enamel. Potassium nitrate can also be added to the whitening product to reduce teeth sensitivity afterward.
Getting teeth whitening treatment starts with a consultation with a dentist. The oral professional examines the patient's mouth, looking for issues like gum disease or tooth decay. Existing issues must be treated before proceeding with whitening treatment since the bleaching agents put a lot of stress on teeth enamel. Whitening damaged teeth and gums can lead to permanent damage being done to these structures, as well as pain.
An impression of the patient's mouth might be taken during the consultation to make a customized mouth tray. The mouth tray keeps the patient's teeth evenly coated with the bleaching products during the treatment, and it prevents the product from getting into gum tissues and causing irritation.
The teeth whitening process usually takes place over the course of one or more visits, depending on the type of treatment being used. The more stained and discolored the patient's teeth area, the more treatments they would need to get their teeth to the desired shade of white.
The dentist or dental assistant will apply a bleaching agent to a mouth tray the patient bites down on during the first treatment. The patient keeps the mouth tray in their mouth for up to 90 minutes before the dentist takes it out and rinses their teeth. Lasers can be used to shorten the length of the treatment to an hour. Additional treatments will be scheduled as needed until the patient reaches their desired shade of white.
Teeth whitening treatments effectively whiten most types of stains on teeth, like those caused by the foods and beverages we consume, smoking, or aging. However, the bleaching agents used for whitening treatments do not significantly affect stains caused by decay, fluorosis, or tetracycline antibiotics. Such stains can be addressed with alternatives like composite bonding, veneers, and dental crowns.
Getting the most out of teeth whitening treatments
Results achieved with teeth whitening treatments can last for up to five years, depending on the patient's oral hygiene habits and lifestyle choices. Foods and drinks that cause staining, like coffee, tea, and red wine, should be avoided as much as possible to help teeth stay white for longer.
Since tobacco use leads to teeth staining, patients who smoke are more likely to see their teeth become discolored sooner than those who do not. Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly can also help teeth stay white for longer.
Using oral hygiene products containing whitening agents can help keep teeth white. These products are not that effective at removing stains deep within teeth, but they are efficient at removing surface stains. Such products should be used once or twice a week to remove new stains as they form. Avoid overusing them since regularly exposing teeth to bleaching agents can weaken enamel.
Dentists recommend avoiding foods and beverages that stain teeth right after teeth whitening treatments since it takes a few days for the teeth's new color to set. Patients should stick to white or transparent foods and beverages for at least a few days after their whitening treatments for best results.
The role of maintenance treatments
Regardless of how well you care for your teeth, new stains and discoloration will eventually form on them over time. There are just too many things that teeth are exposed to that can stain them, like what we eat and drink.
Dentists recommend getting touch-up teeth whitening treatments every few years to help maintain the bright white color achieved with teeth whitening treatments. At-home whitening kits can also be used as needed for maintenance treatments.
Transform your smile with teeth whitening treatments
Teeth whitening treatments can produce dramatic results, making teeth several shades brighter. However, teeth whitening results are not permanent and may need to be touched up every few months to maintain a bright, white smile. Your teeth are the first thing about your appearance people notice, so whitening them enhances how you look.
Improving the color of your teeth is a great way to improve your smile, boost your self-confidence, and drastically transform your appearance. Give us a call or visit our Annapolis clinic to set up an appointment with our cosmetic dentist.
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