Your Teeth-Whitening Questions Answered

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Teeth whitening is an incredibly popular cosmetic dental procedure. It can drastically change your smile without breaking the bank. If you would like to know more about teeth whitening, check out these three commonly asked questions to determine if it's right for you.

1. How Does Professional Teeth Whitening Work?

Professional teeth whitening can be done in the dental office or at home. During in-office treatment, a special bleaching solution is applied to the teeth, and care is taken to protect the gums. A special light may be used to enhance the process, and results are usually seen immediately.

To save money, you could ask your dentist about professional home kits. These are prepared by the dentist, but you can use them in the comfort of your own home. Results may take a little longer to appear because the solution is not as powerful as in-office treatments.

2. Do Over-the-Counter Products Work?

At the grocery store or pharmacy, you may see over-the-counter teeth whitening products. These include toothpaste, gels, and strips; however, these are much less effective than professional teeth whitening. Whitening toothpastes are the least effective, and results are slow and minimal. Instead, this type of toothpaste may be a better choice for helping to prevent stains.

Other products are stronger, but they still aren't as strong as professional treatments. Plus, because the trays and strips aren't fitted perfectly to your mouth (like the trays used in professional whitening), the bleach may miss some spots, leaving stains behind. However, these may be a good cheap alternative for minor stains or for preventing future stains.  

3. What Stains Respond Well to Teeth-Whitening?

Extrinsic stains respond well to teeth-whitening. These stains are caused by external forces, such as what you consume, especially stain-causing foods and beverages. Some of the most notorious stain causes include berries, wine, coffee, and tobacco.

The bleach penetrates past the enamel to the dentin, where these stains reside. Because of how teeth-whitening works, it can also help some intrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains are usually caused by something internal, such as aging. As you age, your dentin naturally darkens, so using whitening solutions can reverse this darkening, making teeth look brighter and whiter.

Teeth-whitening can get rid of many stains to make your smile look more healthy and younger. It works best on extrinsic stains, but because it affects the dentin, it can help with some intrinsic stains too. If you would like to know more, contact a dentist—such as Cottonwood Dental—in your area today.