Patients suffering from discolored teeth can benefit from professional tooth whitening which is a highly effective yet conservative form of cosmetic treatment. For many years, teeth whitening treatments have been available but over time, these have become more effective and considerably more predictable thanks to all the good work done by dentists and other dental professionals in creating safe tooth bleaching solutions.
Thanks to their affordable price tag, rapid results and effectiveness, these treatments have become common types of elective dentistry procedure. Usually, the patients who receive such treatments are aged from 30 to 50.
The majority of patients investing in having tooth whitening do so to feel more attractive and more confident. They’re also a more preferably alternative to veneers since they’re more affordable.
All patients experience different success levels from treatment as their teeth have different characteristics. Everyone has a different amount of gloss, fluorescence, translucency and opacity to their teeth. While some patients require several treatments to see the best possible result, others require considerably less upkeep.
About a million Americans undergo tooth whitening procedures each year, raising around $600,000,000 for dentists in revenue.
What Causes Tooth Discoloration?
Stains on the surface of the teeth are, by far, the most distinctive sign of discoloration of the teeth. Over the course of a patient’s life, these stains are naturally picked up as the bumps, holes and grooves in their teeth begin to collect stains and darken, yellow and develop whitened streaks.
Tooth color depends on a number of factors such as habits, oral care and overall lifestyle. Some common reasons patients may have discolored teeth are:
- Genetics – everyone has teeth with a different color and enamel structure. Some people have thicker teeth which have darker colored enamel than others.
- Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause tooth discoloration.
- As we age, our teeth’s outer layer of enamel wears down naturally causing tooth discoloration and yellowing. For this reason, older patients will experience a shorter-term result from tooth whitening treatment than younger people.
- When patients have had amalgam restorations, black tooth discoloration often occurs because of the sulfide content of such fillings.
- Some medicines including hypertension medications, antipsychotics, tetracycline and antihistamines are all known to cause discoloration.
- Smoking and chewing tobacco causes discoloration of the teeth with time, therefore quitting is always recommended by dental professionals.
- Consuming certain foods and drinks cause stains on the tooth surfaces. Excessively consuming coffee, dark teas, sodas and red wine can stain the teeth and even eating dark fruit such as blackberries can cause this problem.
- Women who take the antibiotic tetracycline when they are pregnant can have a child who suffers from discolored teeth as they get older.
- If someone consumes excess amounts of fluoride, especially from drinking tap water that is rich in this chemical, they may have discolored patches and white streaks on their teeth.
Can Tooth Discoloration Be Prevented?
When someone neglects their oral care and fails to use mouthwash, brush or floss regularly, their teeth can become discolored and yellow since plaque will begin to build up over time which is difficult to remove. Plaque results in calculus formation as well as cavities and tooth decay. Lifestyle changes like brushing regularly, drinking less coffee and giving up smoking can help to stop teeth from discoloring. However, if you already have discolored teeth, whitening treatments may represent an affordable solution.
Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments & How They Work
Three categories of tooth whitening treatment exist:
Professional In-Office Whitening Treatments
Several whitening treatments have proven to be very popular and can be found at your dentist’s office. The best known are Kor, BOOST and 1-hour ZOOM whitening. These are all known to have effective and speedy results. All also use a similar active ingredient wither without or with a light, and take about 30 minutes to complete. They can make your teeth between two to three shades lighter in just one visit. In-office treatments can be carried out every six months when you have your routine professional cleaning.
An at-home tooth whitening treatment will take longer and will be more intensive when compared with a professional treatment. First, visiting the dentist is necessary so impressions of your mouth can be taken. This allows the dentist to make specially designed trays with a bespoke fit for you. Also, you receive a least 6 months’ of tooth whitening gel as well as the trays to take back home. More professional gel can be bought for use in those trays if necessary. If you want the most aggressive tooth whitening experience, you’ll find this option ideal.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Whitening Products
The most affordable whitening products can be bought over-the-counter. However, although they’re cheap, the results will take much longer to be noticed. Whitening mouthwashes, toothpaste, gels and strips are commonly seen OTC products that are known to be safe, although not suitable for rapid results.
At-Home LED Whitening
Another at home tooth whitening option is LED whitening of the teeth. You can order a kit online which uses LED technology, whitening gel and accelerating-warming heat to make teeth whiter. Most popular LED whitening kits include iSmile, AuraGlow, GLO and Snow.
How Much Will Tooth Whitening Cost?
Tooth whitening treatments pricing depends on the type chosen by the patient. As tooth whitening procedures aren’t medically necessary they cannot be covered by dental insurance.
On average, treatments cost:
- Professional whitening at the dentist’s office –$500 to $1400 for one treatment
- Whitening at-home –$250 to $500 (extra gel costs around $15)
- OTC whitening – $100 or less
- LED whitening –$50 to $250 for one kit
Does Teeth Whitening Have Any Side Effects?
Most often, patients will experience tooth sensitivity as a side effect of tooth whitening treatment. With OTC treatments, the sensitivity will diminish after treatment ceases however, in cases of professional treatment, your dentist can avoid sensitivity arising or treat the problem for you. If the whitening gel contacts the gums, irritation may occur. Usually, this disappears in a couple of days, but if the gel contacts the gums again it will reoccur.
Some Common Concerns & Questions
Will Tooth Whitening Treatments Be Safe?
Considerable evidence supported by research shows that professional and over the counter tooth whitening solutions are safe however you must follow all directions precisely to ensure safety at all times.
Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Have Tooth Whitening Treatment?
Although tooth whitening treatments have been shown to be safe, not everybody should have them. Children who still have their baby teeth should avoid whitening since their teeth and jaw are still undergoing development. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid whitening their teeth as the chemicals could pass to the baby, and people who’ve previously undergone restorative treatments such as fillings, veneers and crowns should also avoid OTC teeth whitening. This is because these restorations won’t whiten because they’re made out of composite, porcelain or metal and only the natural structure of a tooth can change color with these treatments. Tooth whitening may be carried out on natural teeth that surround restoration dental work, however only professional treatments should be sought.
How Long Can Tooth Whitening Last?
Your lifestyle and preferences have an impact on how long your tooth whitening treatment lasts. Diet and habits impact effectiveness and the type of whitening treatment you’ve chosen will also affect how long your results will endure. At home treatments will usually need repeating every six months, but professional treatment typically doesn’t need repeating for about a year, or perhaps longer.