Teeth Whitening Treatments and What You Need to Know About Them

Teeth discoloration is a common problem, but it’s also something that not a lot of people normally think about. As long as you brush your teeth and floss every day, you think you’re okay. When you notice your teeth starting to yellow, you suddenly go into a panic mode because you do not know what to do. 

Having discolored or yellowed teeth can be embarrassing. Imagine yourself walking on the streets or the hallways of your school or office. Suddenly, you meet a friend or colleague, and you give your biggest smile, but your friend doesn’t smile back, and you remember your yellowed teeth. 

Incidents like the one above are among the reasons why teeth whitening treatments are becoming more and more popular. If you want to wipe out those yellow stains on your teeth, if you’re going to bring back your bright, glowing smile, it’s time to visit your dentist and ask about the options available to you.  

You can also start learning everything that you can about whitening your teeth. 

What are Teeth Whitening Treatments?

Teeth whitening treatments are procedures that use the bleaching process in lightening teeth color. For this reason, it is also called teeth bleaching. There are two specific ways that dentists whiten your teeth: intrinsic whitening and extrinsic whitening. 

Intrinsic whitening focuses on whitening the dentine or the inner area of your teeth. On the other hand, extrinsic whitening is concerned with the removal of stains on the enamel – the outer part of your teeth.

Intrinsic stains are more difficult to remove than extrinsic stains because they are caused by trickier factors such as too much fluoride. You’ll need more than just whitening toothpaste. On the other hand, extrinsic stains usually develop because of too much coffee, tea, cola, wine, or tobacco. Most cases can be corrected by simple dental procedures such as cleaning. Regular use of whitening toothpaste may also help.

Other factors that can cause teeth discoloration include: 

– Fruit juices

– Red meat

– Sweet and sugary foodstuff

– Berries 

It’s also best to avoid food and beverages that are pigmented. You’ll also have to adhere to some lifestyle changes. 

Different Teeth Whitening Procedures 

Before going to the dentist for teeth whitening, you need to know which procedure can help correct your problem. There are two options to choose from. 

In-chair or In-office Teeth Whitening 

Also known as In-practice teeth whitening, an In-chair procedure takes place in the dentist’s office, clinic, or an advanced dental treatment center, with you sitting on the dental chair (which explains the name). It’s the most popular and common way to whiten your teeth. One session usually takes about 1 ½ to two hours to finish, and you’ll have to go through the procedure several times. 

In some cases, a 2-hour in-chair teeth whitening procedure can be enough to complete the process, but this depends on the dentist’s techniques. Most people who want to get results fast choose this option. 

This is what typically happens in an in-office teeth whitening procedure: 

  • The primary things dentists use for an in-office procedure include protective gel, special LED light, and the whitening gel.
  • However, before starting the process, you’ll need to consult with your dentist first to find out if teeth whitening is the ideal treatment for you. There are certain pre-procedure instructions that you need to make time for.
  • The protective gel is applied to the teeth before the whitening gel. How long the procedure takes depends on the severity of the stain, as well as your whitening goal. 

The most common in-chair or in-office teeth whitening procedure is bleaching, the effects of which are good for several months. Also, there are three types of bleaching: light-accelerated bleaching, internal bleaching, light-accelerated bleaching with reduced hydrogen peroxide. 

At-home or Take-home Teeth Whitening 

Some teeth whitening procedures can be corrected using products recommended by dentists and bought over-the-counter. These are called at-home or take-home treatments and are generally used for minor teeth stains.

If you choose to use the at-home option, you’ll have to decide which of the following can help remove your teeth stains:

Tray-based bleaching 

For this option, you’ll need a peroxide-based bleaching paste or gel and a fitted tray. The set is available over-the-counter, although you can ask your dentist to make one for you. It’s easy to use; all you need to do is apply the gel to your teeth and allow it to stay there for a couple of hours a day – or several weeks in some cases. 

Strips and gels 

This is probably the simplest option you can go for. Aside from a peroxide-based tooth bleaching gel, all you need is a thin strip or a brush, which is what you use to apply the product to your teeth. Do this once or twice a day for more or less two weeks, and you’ll have whiter teeth that can last for several months. It’s also one of the cheapest options. 

Teeth whitening toothpaste 

You can continue to use your regular toothpaste, but it won’t do you any good. It won’t help remove the stains on your teeth. You’ll need a toothpaste with higher abrasive content – such as whitening toothpaste.

Other Important Facts 

Seniors are more susceptible to tooth stains.

Your teeth change as you age. Over time, the enamel becomes thinner and reveals the natural color of your teeth’s core tissue – yellow. This factor combined with all the teeth issues – injuries, damage, and similar problems; plus stains that developed due to drinking coffee, tea, wine, and soda make discoloration a common senior age-related concern. 

The treatments are not permanent.

The effect of teeth whitening treatments is good for only a couple of months to several years. Depending on the method used, you may enjoy the results for more or less three years. If you continue to drink coffee or tea and smoke, though, the duration is shorter. 

Your dentist will schedule a visit for top-ups. 

If you want visible results in an hour, you should opt for dental surgery. 

Only a licensed dentist is capable of performing teeth whitening procedures. 

A licensed dentist with proper training is the only one legally allowed to perform teeth whitening procedures. A dental hygienist or dental therapist may also administer teeth whitening to patients, but only with the dentist’s prescription.

Talk to your dentist before deciding to undergo teeth whitening treatments. Knowing what your options are will help you understand what’s best for your dental health.

About The Author

Dr. Boyle

Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle

Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle completed her Doctorate in Dental Medicine from Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Glendale, AZ. As a leader in the field of cosmetic dentistry and full-mouth rehabilitation, she is committed to providing exceptional dental care to the local community. She is also affiliated with prestigious organizations, including the American Dental Association. Her extensive involvement in these reputable institutions speaks to her commitment to advancing the field of dentistry.