Your smile is often the first thing that others notice about you, so it is no surprise that a bright, white smile can make you look youthful and happy. Unfortunately, a stained or dingy smile can have the opposite effect, making you look older than your actual age. The good news is that in-office teeth whitening treatment is an effective way to lighten and brighten stains and overall tooth discoloration.
What Is the In-Office Teeth Whitening Process Like?
The details of your treatment may vary, depending on the severity of your discoloration and other factors. In general, however, you can expect to have your teeth cleaned before your whitening treatment to remove any plaque or debris. You might also undergo an oral exam, especially if it has been a while since your last one.
The dentist or technician places a retractor in your mouth to hold your cheeks open before applying a liquid dam to your gum tissue to protect it from the bleaching agent. A bleaching gel that contains hydrogen peroxide is applied to your teeth. Often, specialized light is then applied to the gel to activate the oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide, helping to penetrate the stains. Either way, you can relax while the bleaching gel goes to work, lightening your stains. The process may be repeated a few times, for a total treatment time of about an hour. Once you are finished, you will receive a touch-up kit to use at home.
Who Is an Appropriate Candidate for In-Office Whitening?
You might be a suitable candidate for in-office teeth whitening if you have yellow, brown or greyish stains on your teeth due to: chronic consumption of coffee, dark-colored sodas, red wine or similar darkly colored beverages or foods; chronic tobacco use; or the natural aging process.
However, you might not benefit from in-office teeth whitening treatment if you:
- Suffer from tooth or gum hypersensitivity, as professional teeth whitening can exacerbate tooth sensitivity
- Suffer from inorganic stains on your teeth — such as those caused by the use of tetracycline antibiotics — which may actually appear darker after the surrounding teeth have undergone whitening treatment
- Have suffered oral trauma, which may have caused the dentin in your teeth to darken
- Have thin, transparent teeth due to age
- Have extremely stubborn, deep stains
The only way to determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for in-office teeth whitening is to come in for a consultation. Nonetheless, don’t worry if you are not a suitable candidate for in-office teeth whitening, as your dentist will offer alternative treatment options, such as at-home teeth whitening (which is a milder form of treatment) or porcelain veneers to conceal your stains.
To find out if you are a suitable candidate for in-office teeth whitening, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. Your smile will thank you.
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The Use of Veneers for Discolored Teeth
Again, certain patients may not be suitable candidates for in-office teeth whitening. One alternative to in-office teeth whitening treatment is the placement of porcelain veneers. Dental veneers are extremely thin, tooth-colored laminates that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. They look natural and conceal many dental imperfections, from chips and cracks to dark, deeply rooted stains.
How to Care for Porcelain Veneers
Caring for porcelain veneers at home is simple: You can care for them as you would your natural teeth. Simply brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Make sure to keep all your regular dental exam and cleaning appointments, so your dentist can monitor your oral health, including the health of your veneers. With proper care and oral hygiene practices, your veneers should last a long time.