As we age, our teeth naturally darken. Perhaps this is why a brilliant white smile conveys vitality and confidence. One of the most popular ways of enhancing your smile is by whitening your teeth. Whitening is achieved by bleaching your enamel to remove stains and discolorations from your teeth. This process takes about as long as your lunch break at work.
There are two types of stains that affect teeth over time. The first—called extrinsic stains—are external stains that only impact the surface of your teeth. These stains are generally yellow or brown. The second kind of stains—called intrinsic stains—occur inside the tooth itself, and are often gray or blue in color.
Teeth can stain for a variety of reasons, from lifestyle choices to things out of a patient’s control. Lifestyle choices include: beverages like coffee, tea, and cola, smoking tobacco, or insufficient oral hygiene. However, other reasons exist, such as: medication (antibiotic) staining, trauma or disease, genetics and aging, nerve degeneration, and excessive fluoride in tap water.
A patient can select an in-office whitening procedure, where a thin coating of gel is applied to your teeth, then activated by a special ultraviolet light. A patient can also select at-home office whitening. With this procedure, molds are taken of the patient’s mouth, and then trays of a patient’s teeth are created. A professional-grade whitening gel is placed inside the tray for 10-14 days, and the teeth slowly whiten over this period.
Whether you choose in-office whitening or at-home whitening, both are professional-grade whitening systems that far surpass the effects from at home drug stores. In addition, drug store kits can irritate the gums and other soft tissues because they aren’t custom molded for your teeth. Professional whitening procedures is considered by many dentists to be the safest cosmetic procedure available today. Some sensitivity can occur, however this goes away within a bit of time—and a special toothpaste. Deep intrinsic stains may not be removed by teeth whitening, and other options such as porcelain veneers or cosmetic crowns are recommended.