Whitening your teeth is something that everyone thinks about sooner or later but what method is right for you? Though there are tons of products on the market that claim to whiten teeth at home for a fraction of the cost of professional whitening, do they work, are they safe, and should you use them? Should you whiten teeth professionally or at home? The answer is not as simple as you might think and further inspection into the process of whitening may help you decide if professional whitening is right for you.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
The process is far simpler to understand than you might imagine but there may be some steps that you are not aware of. The process starts with a thorough cleaning of your teeth. The less build up that the whitening product has to go through the better. A good cleaning before you actually get your dentist to start the whitening process may also lift off surface stains so that you can get a more accurate picture of how well the process worked.
After your teeth are cleaned, you will get to decide what level of whiteness you want. Some dentist may do this step first but before any whiteners are applied to your teeth you are going to have to decide how white you hope they can become. After you know how white you hope your teeth will be, your dentist or dental hygienist will place what is called a dental dam. This is a layer of gel or other protectant that is meant to keep the soft tissues of your mouth safe during the whitening process. The UV light that is used to help whiten teeth can be very damaging and your dentist wants to make sure your mouth is fully protected.
Next, cheek retractors will be placed to keep your mouth open and to keep your soft tissue away from the whitener again to keep your mouth safe and healthy. The whitening solution will then be brushed onto your teeth in an even layer with each individual tooth being painted. This helps to ensure that your teeth are going to get uniform treatment. Not all professional systems are going to include this next step but many still do. A light, generally UV, will be shined on the whitening gel to activate it for a period of time. After the entire process is over your teeth will again be cleaned to determine how well the treatment worked and to determine your post whitening tooth shade. Some dentist do several sessions as part of one process while others only allow for one treatment. You will be given care instructions and you will be told about possible tooth sensitivity.
Why Whiten Teeth Professionally?
The most obvious reason is that dentists have access to more powerful whitening solutions. This means that your dentist is going to be able to get your teeth whiter with much less effort and potential damage to your teeth. Also, dentists know how to protect your gums and teeth from whitening solutions and can ensure that your mouth is healthy through the entire process. Your dentist is going to be able to deliver faster results as well with whitening occurring generally in one treatment rather than over a month like many at home kits.
How to Reduce Discoloration After Whitening
After you spend money and time having your teeth whitened, you are going to want to keep them white. Try to avoid things that have a high acid content as this can damage enamel and allow for more stains to get into teeth and stay there. Avoid things like dark cola, coffee, foods with high artificial dye content, and other items that may potentially stain teeth. While staying away from things like coffee entirely is not realistic, try drinking coffee with a straw as this will place the liquid directly into the back of your mouth rather than it having to pass over teeth.
Also, make sure you brush after eating and drinking as the longer staining agents stay on the teeth, the more likely they are to tarnish your newly whitened smile. Try using enamel building and whitening toothpastes that help to keep a barrier between your teeth and the foods that may end up staining them. Also, your dentist may recommend coming in for frequent cleanings or may even suggest a follow-up session in a few months to help get your smile back to sparkling white.
While it may seem like the best idea in the world to whiten your teeth at home, the truth is these kits rarely ever deliver noticeable results. Taking the time to go talk with your dentist can save you time, frustration and even money over the long run. Professional whitening is really the best way to go if you want whiter teeth the healthy and fast way.