In the past decade, teeth whitening has become much more common. Not only is it cheaper than ever before, it’s also safer and more effective. The problem is that the more popular it gets, the more misconceptions arise, and the more patients turn to alternative methods which may be harmful, such as charcoal toothpaste.
There are several reasons to pursue tooth whitening. Yellow teeth can be a constant source of anxiety or embarrassment, hurting your confidence. If you’re considering teeth whitening, however, the best way to prepare is to understand the dynamics, and to go into it with accurate expectations.
How Teeth Are Stained
Many consider yellow teeth to be a sign of aging. Just as our skin wrinkles and our hair turns gray or falls out, our teeth can lose their natural glamour. In a sense, this is true. As teeth repair themselves, the new dentin can come in darker, and our enamel, the layer which makes our teeth glimmer, can come in thinner.
The truth is, though, that often what causes yellow teeth are what’s known as extrinsic stains. Though many believe that our enamel is completely flat, it actually has a series of natural ridges. Foods or staining agents can become caught in these ridges causing surface staining. Common staining agents are coffee, wine, soda, and alcohol. If you regularly consume these foods, then chances are the majority of stains present on your teeth are extrinsic.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Teeth whitening is a chemical process that works by exposing your teeth to a concentrated chemical solution, usually in the form of peroxide, which then breaks down staining molecules trapped in the ridges of your enamel. Compared to whitening solution that can be purchased in a store, dentists offices are allowed access to a stronger solution, as they have the experience to use it.
What Does Whitening Not Clear?
Teeth whitening is mostly for extrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains caused by enamel defects, medications, or other reasons will not be removed. Often antibiotics can change the color of dentin in teeth, which will usually not respond to whitening.
Teeth whitening can be done as an in-office procedure or a take-home tray. For the most effective treatment, both can be used. Teeth whitening does not last forever, so by combining both the in-office procedure with a take-home tray, you can ensure that the results of teeth whitening will fade much slower.
If you’re considering teeth whitening, then it’s time to schedule an appointment. The best way to determine whether you’re a good candidate is by speaking with your dentist.