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5 Important Things you need to Know about teeth Whitening

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Blog Highlights:

  • According to different surveys from different American dental associations, a lot of people today all want whiter teeth
  • Natural aging, injuries, and certain medications can cause your teeth to have a darker color
  • Teeth whitening procedures do not work on all kinds of teeth discolorations
  • Almost all toothpastes contain mild abrasives to help remove surface stains
  • At-home teeth whitening products are readily available, but they contain lower concentrations of bleaching agents
  • At the dental clinic the dentist will use bleaches, as well as laser light to help provide you with better whitening results
  • Teeth whitening can cause temporary teeth sensitivity

We all know that regular brushing and flossing will help make your teeth stay clean and healthy. Unfortunately, these might not be enough to keep your teeth white and shiny. Over time, your teeth may get stained, it may suffer from some discolorations and it might look more yellow than usual. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry once made a survey on what most people wanted to change about their teeth, and not surprisingly, many wanted to have whiter teeth.  The American Association of Orthodontists also found out the same thing, almost all of the people that they asked for their survey wanted teeth whitening.

When it comes to teeth whitening, you need to get the facts straight. Here are some of the most important things that you need to know about this dental treatment.

Why are my teeth stained?

There are actually a number of factors that you have to consider when it comes to why your teeth no longer looks as white as before. This includes:

Natural aging

Underneath the white outer shell of your teeth lies a softer area called the dentin. As we continue to brush daily, the enamel will get thinner over the decades. This will allow the yellowish dentin to show through.

The use of medications

The use of certain medications such as histamines can cause the darkening of your teeth. This is also the reason why adults who are taking high blood pressure medications and antipsychotic drugs also have dark-colored teeth.  Children, who have been exposed to tetracycline and doxycycline in the womb or as a baby, may have teeth discolorations later on in life. Radiation directed on the head and neck, as well as chemotherapy is also known to darken teeth.

Trauma and injury

Individuals who have been hit in the mouth might get teeth discolorations simply because their teeth are reacting to an injury by placing more dentin. This will create a dark-colored layer underneath the enamel.

The food and drink that we consume daily

Food and drinks that have an intense color can cause teeth stains. Coffee, red wine and tea are some of the most common culprits. These and other food items that have chromogens can cause staining by attaching themselves to the outer part of your teeth.


Tobacco contains tar and nicotine. Nicotine is colorless until it comes into contact with oxygen. Tar on the other hand, is dark. This is why the constant use of tobacco will discolor your teeth over time.

How are teeth whitening performed?

In general, teeth whitening treatments are very simple and direct. It is actually done with the help of either carbamide peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals are bleaches that can help break down the stain into smaller pieces, allowing your teeth to look brighter as the color becomes less concentrated.

Can whitening procedures work on all kinds of teeth stains?

Unfortunately, whitening procedures will only work on some stains. These procedures will not be able to correct all types of discolorations; this is why you need to consult with your dentist first before availing of any whitening treatments. In general, yellow teeth are known to react well, but ones that are brown, gray, or dark, may not bleach properly at all. Whitening procedures will also not work on fillings, caps, crowns, and veneers. It is also not possible to do whitening procedures on teeth that have been discolored as a result of injury or the use of certain medications.

What kind of whitening treatment should I get?

Before getting any whitening treatments, you should start by talking about it first with your dentist. There are actually three available options for those who are candidates:

The use of whitening toothpastes

Almost all toothpastes contain mild abrasives that can help remove some of the surface stains on your teeth. But if you want something that will give you better whitening results, dentists suggest that you look for ones that have the ADA Seal for safe whitening toothpastes. These products contain polishing or chemical agents that can provide better results when it comes to stain removal. Just keep in mind however, that these toothpastes can only remove surface stains, and they will not change the color of the actual teeth.

The use of at-home bleaching products

There are products that contain peroxide for teeth whitening that can be used at home. They are typically in gel form and they are applied through a tray that fits on your teeth. There are also whitening strips that you can stick to your teeth. The concentration of the peroxide found in these products is lower than the ones used in dental offices.

Before using these products, you will have to read the ADA’s Statement with regards to the safety and effectiveness of these teeth whitening products.

Chair-side or In-office Bleaching

This is by far, the most effective and safest way to whiten your teeth. Requiring only one visit, the dentist will utilize a rubber shield or a protective gel to protect your gums from the bleach. Bleaching agents will then be applied to your teeth and the dentist will then use a special laser or light to help enhance the whitening effects of the bleach.

Can teeth whitening trigger unwanted side-effects?

Yes. Some people who have recently gone through teeth whitening procedures can experience sensitivity. This is caused by the bleaching agent getting through the enamel and into the soft layer or dentin within. The bleaching agent can irritate the nerves found in the dentin. Typically, the sensitivity that patients experience after the procedure is temporary.

The overuse of whitening products can also damage the gums and the teeth enamel. This is why it is highly recommended that you to talk to your dentist first and that you follow all instructions carefully before using them.

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It's time to clean those pearly whites!