Did you know that teeth whitening is the number one (1) requested cosmetic service today and that its popularity continues to soar?
A recent survey showed 80% of Americans aged 18 to 49 want whiter teeth, with women leading in this area at 85%. 6 out 10 believe a whiter, brighter smile would boost their self confidence especially in the 18 to 24 age range.
According to the American Academy of cosmetic Dentistry, Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter teeth whitening products last year alone.
One of the first things people notice when they meet someone new is their smile. Teeth Whitening has become an accessible and relatively easy way to instantly improve appearance, create a positive first impression, and achieve a more youthful and radiant appearance. Teeth can become discolored over a period of time. Teeth whitening is not a medical procedure, it does not result in healthier teeth, but it can result in whiter teeth.
What causes discoloration of the teeth?
Discoloration can be caused by several factors including ageing, smoking, consumption of staining foods and beverages, staining caused by medication, aging, hereditary factors, and chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea, or cigarettes. People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining.
Aside from staining, there are other factors that can affect the color of an individual’s teeth. Genetics can play a role. Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease can also be a factor and certain medications can cause a discoloration of the teeth. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.
Smoking will cause a build up on teeth that can cause a yellow to orange color staining. These stains can take longer to lighten. Nicotine staining takes 1-3 months to whitening through nightly use. Using tobacco will actually speed up how fast your teeth lose their new whiteness.
Aging also contributes to the yellowing of teeth. The enamel, which is the hard outer coating of your teeth, wears thin, allowing the underlying layer of yellowish dentin to show through. Most common are yellow-brown to dark brown stains that probably caused by an accumulation of dental plaque, food stain, and poor oral hygiene. Aging or inherit discoloration usually occurs in 9 out of 10 people. These stains usually bleach quite readily as due yellowish discoloration, whether due to aging or tobacco smoke, likewise responds well to bleaching. Staining from aging takes about 1-6 weeks to whiten.
The rule of thumb is that anything that can stain your table cloth, clothes, or carpet can also stain your teeth. Think tomato sauce, blueberry pie, red wine, etc.
There are three types of teeth whitening:
- Bleaching your teeth to change the color of the tooth enamel by removing stains. Your dentist can bleach your teeth at his or her office. The solutions used by the dentists have a concentrated peroxide solution of about 35%. During a single treatment, teeth can by whitened by 12 to 14 shades.
- You can also do it yourself with a kit you buy from the dentist. In the tray and gel solutions, the dentist prepares a mouth piece filled with gel for the patient to wear a few hours every night for about two weeks. These gels contain between 10% and 15% peroxide, and can get teeth whiter by about 8 shades.
- Using inexpensive over-the-counter whitening toothpastes that you can purchase at your local store. Whitening strips with about a 4 percent peroxide solution can whiten teeth by 2 or 3 shades.
Bleaching doesn’t always work:
Bleaching may not work if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings in your front teeth. The bleach will not affect the color of these materials. They will only stand out if you whiten the rest of your teeth. It is best to consult with your dentist before using any teeth whitening systems, especially if you have many fillings, crowns, or very dark stains.
Bleaching side effects:
Bleaching your teeth can have side effects. Teeth can become sensitive (hot and cold sensitivity) and gum irritation can occur when you are using the bleaching solution, but this usually goes away when you finish your treatment. A mouthpiece that does not fit well may hurt your gums. Other, less frequently encountered, side effects that have been reported by patients are: sore throat, tooth pain, tingling of the tissues, and headaches.
The Blue Teeth People:
Don’t go overboard with whitening. The color resulting from too many treatments is unnatural. Let your teeth be pearly white. Unfortunately there are people who can never get enough and bleach too often and too much. I call them the “blue teeth people.” Everyone has seen them! Their teeth have a bluish look to them. Bleachers should aim for a color that matches the whites of their eyes.
How long do the whitening effects last?
Remember that whitening is not permanent, as your teeth will slowly become discolored again. People who expose their teeth to foods and beverages that cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as 1 month. Those who avoid foods and beverages that stain may be able to wait one year or longer before another whitening treatment or touch-up is needed.
If you do choose to consume beverages that stain, consider using a straw so that the liquid bypasses your front teeth.
Brush or rinse immediately after consuming stain-causing beverages or foods.
Follow good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss at least once daily to remove plaque. Use a whitening toothpaste (once or twice a week only) to remove surface stains and prevent yellowing. Use a regular toothpaste the rest of the time.
Consider touch-up treatments. Depending on the whitening method used, you may need a touch-up every 6 months or after a year or two. If you smoke or drink lots of stain-causing beverages, you may need a touch up more often.