More and more people are showing an interest in professional teeth whitening, as they dream of brighter, whiter teeth. The procedure is safe, and it offers amazing results, as long as it is performed at the dentist's office. Of course, you can also try at-home whitening, but the results might differ. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss this topic in-depth, including in terms of safety, costs, and risks. The most important thing to remember is that beauty salons should be avoided, as the teeth whitening treatments they offer might actually put your oral health at risk. If you are interested in discovering more information on the topic, do not hesitate to keep on reading.
Professional teeth whitening refers to a procedure carried out at the dentist's office, either by the dentist or the dental hygienist. The treatment is meant to brighten one's teeth, with a pleasing aesthetic appearance as the final result. In most cases, several visits to the dentist are necessary. At the first appointment, the oral health will be thoroughly examined, so as to make sure that the teeth and gums are healthy. If dental issues are identified, these will have to be addressed before the actual whitening process.
There are several teeth whitening methods, but the most common one involves the use of a mouthguard, on which bleaching gel is applied. You might be instructed to repeat the applications at home, for several weeks, until the results will be noticeable. Whitening gels can be kept for several hours on the teeth, so be sure to take this into account. There is also laser whitening, which is offered exclusively in dental practices. The bleaching substance is actually painted on the teeth, with the laser activating the whitening process.
It is worth mentioning that the teeth whitening treatment can be performed by any dentist. A dental hygienist might be able to carry out this procedure, but only on the prescription of a dentist. As previously stated, you should only go to a registered dentist for such treatments, otherwise your oral health might be at risk. Carrying out professional teeth whitening without dental qualifications is against the law as well.
There are different reasons for which you might consider teeth whitening, but for many people the motivation is the same. They want a smile that is both healthy and bright. Unfortunately, as we age, our teeth can lose their pearly-white appearance. Habits such as smoking or drinking beverages that stain the teeth can make matters worse. As the dentist himself might recommend, it is for the best to keep the consumption of certain beverages - red wine, coffee, or tea - down to a minimum. A quality teeth whitening procedure should safely remove such stains, without causing any damage to the teeth. For many people, a brighter, white smile also means more confidence.
Given the fact that professional teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic treatment, it is not covered by insurance. Some policies might cover the cost partially though, but it is for the best to check with your insurance provider. The cost of such procedures vary from one dental practice to the other, and laser whitening is the most expensive, especially in comparison to professional bleaching. Of course, at-home whitening kits are less expensive than the in-practice treatment. You might also have to factor in the cost of the initial consultation. If the insurance policy does not cover cosmetic treatments at all, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars for professional teeth whitening.
When done by professionals and in an adequate manner, the teeth whitening procedure is completely safe. Your teeth might feel sensitive for a bit after the treatment, but such effects are only temporary. To protect the gums, the dentist might apply a special rubber-like material, before the actual procedure. In this way, the damage to the gums is prevented, while the bleaching substance will remove any discoloration. If the laser is used, you will have to wear protective goggles, in order to protect your eyes.
The dentist might offer advice on whether the treatment is suitable for you or not. For instance, people who suffer from gum disease or those with crowns might be advised against such procedures. It is common knowledge that teeth whitening procedures do not work on dentures, teeth with fillings or veneers. Of course, any dental issue will have to be treated first. The general assessment is also necessary to determine whether there are bad filling or leaking root fillings. All patients must have a professional teeth cleaning procedure before the actual whitening treatment. This is essential to ensure that the teeth are clean, the spaces between them included.
As a general rule, teeth whitening procedures are recommended for those who are over the age of 18. The most important thing is that both the teeth and gums are healthy, with the dentist performing an initial consultation to identify potential dental issues. The treatment should not be pursued by women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding, as it has not been determine whether the whitening products affect the baby or not. As mentioned above, teeth whitening procedures do not work on dentures, bridges, veneers, or crowns. Discolored or damaged teeth might benefit from other treatment options, which the dentist will explain in detail.
There is also a procedure known as internal teeth whitening, which might be preferred for a tooth that has become discolored after a root canal treatment. The hole that was made in the tooth will be re-opened, with the dentist applying a whitening gel into it. As the next, a temporary filling will be used to close the hole. The procedure might be repeated several times, until the results are satisfactory. A tooth-colored filling will be then put in place permanently.
Keep in mind that the teeth whitening procedure is not permanent. The effect can last from several months to three years, varying from one person to the other. In addition, there might be factors influencing the success of the treatment. For instance, the whitening effect will not last long if you are a smoker or someone who drinks staining beverages, such as coffee, tea, or wine.
Nowadays, the market is practically flooded by a multitude of at-home teeth whitening kits. It is recommended to talk to your dentist before using a home kit, as these carry certain risks as well. For instance, they might not contain enough whitening substance, which will cause them to be less effective. There is also the risk of not fitting the mouthguard properly, with the bleaching gel reaching the gums and the oral mucosa. Unfortunately, this can lead to sensitivity and blisters.
The dentist might perform the teeth whitening procedure in his/her practice, or he/she might give you an at-home kit to use. The latter should be a safe treatment, provided it comes from a dentist's office and you have followed the given instructions to the latter. The in-office procedure lasts for about an hour and it might make your teeth up to six shades whiter. After the application of bleaching gel, the dentist will use a special blue light to accelerate the whitening process.
At-home whitening kits are easy to use, but you have to do exactly as the dentist says. The kit contains bleaching gel and a special tray. Just apply the gel to the tray and place it in your mouth. The tray should be worn as recommended, most commonly overnight, as this option delivers the best results. It might take several weeks before you will notice the desired results. If you are not satisfied with the treatment, schedule an appointment with your dentist and discuss about the in-office procedure.
Regardless of the chosen teeth whitening method, you might experience sensitivity, in both the teeth and gums. The chemicals contained in the bleaching substance are directly responsible for this. If you already have sensitive teeth, the risk of such side effects might increase considerably. At-home kits might present additional risks, such as the burns to gums or harming the tooth enamel.
Patients with very sensitive teeth might experience slight discomfort or a short, lightning-like pain. The best thing you can do is share these concerns with your dentist, so you can find an appropriate solution together. For instance, the dentist might give you pain-relieving medication after the procedure, in order to ease either the discomfort or pain experienced. If the bleaching substance has penetrated the enamel, you might deal with such symptoms for about two days. The painkiller should help with such issues.
Aside from the short-term gum irritation and increased sensitivity, you might experience additional side-effects. If there are untreated cavities, the bleaching substance might reach the tooth nerve, causing additional damage. Too frequent bleaching can damage the tooth enamel, exposing the tooth to further issues. However, you must remember that bleaching does not cause tooth damage, provided it is done correctly and as frequent as recommended by the dentist.
You can extend the effect of the whitening procedure by taking really good care of your teeth. The dentist will advise you to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, in order to remove daily stains. You will have to floss on a daily basis and visit the dental hygienist for regular cleaning and polishing. Of course, you might consider giving up smoking or at least cutting down. Keep in mind that e-cigarettes are just as harmful for the teeth as regular cigarettes. Avoid foods and drinks that might stain your teeth and talk to the dentist about long-term management. These might include spicy foods, coffee, tea, red wine, and colored fruit juices.
Frequently asked questions
What is the main thing to consider before the teeth whitening procedure?
As you have seen mentioned in this article, for such procedures, you need to ensure that your teeth are healthy. The dentist will perform an initial examination, so as to make sure that there are no cavities, gum disease, or other dental issues to worry about. He/she will then proceed with professional teeth cleaning, as explained.
It is recommended to wait for several years before you repeat the teeth whitening procedure. Otherwise, you might risk damaging the tooth enamel, which can lead to further dental issues. You can talk to your dentist about the recommended frequency of such treatments.
The answer is yes. You will have to talk with your dentist about a customized tray, meant for one single tooth to be whitened. The color of the other teeth will not be affected.
Is there any situation in which the teeth whitening procedure is not recommended?
As the dentist will point out, the whitening procedure is recommended only to those with healthy teeth and gums. If there are untreated cavities, fillings that leaked, enamel defects, or fractures, you might not be a suitable candidate.
Modern teeth whitening treatments have reduced the risk of gum and tooth sensitivity down to a minimum. Dentists are using today thick peroxide gels, which are not as easily absorbed by the teeth. Moreover, the dentist might also use desensitizers, including potassium nitrate and fluoride, in order to make the whole experience more comfortable.
In conclusion, professional teeth whitening can help you achieve a bright smile and feel better about yourself overall. The cost of this procedure might not be covered by your insurance provider, so it is for the best to check out your insurance plan and calculate your budget. The procedure is 100% safe, but if you have sensitive teeth, you might want to talk with your dentist about such concerns. As you have seen, there are also at-home kits that you might try, of course under the guidance of your dentist. There are not many risks associated with such treatments, as the procedure is painless and does not lead to complications.
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