The enamel of adult teeth is naturally white, but it may become stained after years of drinking coffee or tea. Stains may also develop on the enamel with regular exposure to dark foods such as blueberries, blackberries or beets. Some medications stain the teeth, while smoking also leaves behind yellowish stains. If your smile is not as bright and white as you would like, professional teeth whitening performed by a dentist could make a significant difference in the look of your smile.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Professional whitening procedures at the dentist’s office are safe and effective. The teeth are whitened with the use of a bleaching agent. The professional-grade bleaching agent is designed to whiten your teeth by two to seven shades. The results last for several months, depending on your lifestyle and at-home oral hygiene routine. The whitening procedure begins with a visit to the dentist so that customized trays of your teeth can be made. The impressions will be created at a dental lab, and you will return at another time to undergo the whitening procedure.
In-office Teeth Whitening
An in-office whitening procedure makes use of a bleaching agent made from carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide changes into hydrogen peroxide in the mouth. The bleaching agent is in the form of a gel, and the dentist spreads it evenly across the trays. Your cheeks will be held open so that your soft tissues do not come into contact with the bleaching agent. The trays remain on your upper and lower teeth for 45 to 60 minutes while you relax in the treatment area. After the dentist takes the trays off, you will be able to rinse your mouth with water and resume your daily activities.
Take-home Whitening Trays
Your dentist can prepare take-home whitening trays for you to use at your own convenience. This is a natural choice if your work schedule makes it difficult to come in for an hour every couple of months for an in-office procedure. With take-home trays, the bleach solution is provided to you in a sealed tube. The dentist will give you specific instructions on how to load the gel into the tray and how to fit the tray onto your teeth. The dentist will also tell you how long to leave the trays on your teeth. It is important to exactly follow the dentist’s instructions on using the take-home prescription whitening trays.
Maintaining a Bright White Smile
Once you have received an in-office or at-home whitening procedure, you may need to make a few changes in order to maintain the brightness of your smile. You might need to avoid certain foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth, including carbonated beverages, tea and cola. You may also be advised to avoid behaviors that could stain the teeth, such as the use of tobacco. Your dentist might recommend brushing three times per day, for two minutes each time. This helps your teeth stay white for a longer time.