There are many people who value having a bright, white smile. Unfortunately, one’s smile naturally grows dull as a tooth’s enamel wears out and reveals the dentin. There are many factors that can affect your smile. The coloration can be due to age, translucency, eating habits, or any of several other factors. Teeth whitening will often brighten your smile but will need to be maintained to keep the effects.

Differences in Whitening and Bleaching

Bleaching is the term for when you can whiten your teeth further than their natural coloration. This term also applies only to methods containing bleach. Teeth whitening is when you restore the original color through methods other than bleaching, such as a whitening toothpaste. Doing so will often remove dirt, debris, and other discolorations.

Teeth Whitening Methods

The best option for quick whitening is an in-office teeth whitening, performed by the dentist professionally. The dentist will initially apply a paint-on rubber dam to prevent gum irritation during and after the process. Then they will carefully apply a high-concentration peroxide gel for periods of 15 to 20 minutes until an hour worth of intervals has passed. Difficult staining may require additional visits.

Professional take-home kits are used over the course of several months to a year and give lasting results. use a peroxide gel with a lower concentration than an in-office whitening, which is applied for as short as an hour to overnight. The lower the concentration of the peroxide gel, the longer the gel can be applied for.

Shade Measurement and Whitening Results

Before and after a whitening, the color of teeth is always measured with the help of guides. The most common guide, the Vitapan Classic Shade guide, has a total of 16 different shades. Other guides may have different shades and numbers of shades, and therefore differing results. Most teeth whitening results average around a difference of 6 shades, but the outcome can vary from a change as few as 2 shades up to a total of 9.

Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

A teeth whitening appointment will often leave you with brighter teeth, but it can also leave some temporary after-effects. In-office appointments may result in increased sensitivity in the whitened teeth, due to the often higher concentration of bleach used. “Zingers” are another side effect of teeth whitening, which are shooting pains in between your front two teeth. These after-effects often last for only one or two days. A whitening may also irritate your gums, although this is often only due to contact with the peroxide.

As always, feel free to call or email us with any additional questions. WebMD can also be a good source.

Want to learn more about dental crowns?  Check out our blog post.

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