Everything You Need to Know About Teeth Whitening

We all want a healthy smile we can feel confident about – even look forward to – showing off to the world.

This is why oral health needs to be a priority you include in your daily routine.

However, many people want to take their smiles to the next level and truly make them memorable, which is where teeth whitening comes in.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

The term “teeth whitening” gets thrown around a lot these days. You’ll find it plastered on toothpastes, mouthwash, and even gum.

True teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure administered or prescribed by a professional. It first breaks down stains that are currently dimming your smile and then a topical bleach is used to really amplify its brightness.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Teeth whitening is a noninvasive, extremely simple procedure. You won’t need an anesthetic to leave the dentist’s office with a smile that shines.

The first thing your dentist will do is a quick examination to ensure that you are a good candidate for teeth whitening. This will include checking your teeth and gums to make sure they won’t react negatively to the whitening gel. Even if this proves to be the case, your dentist can take steps to mediate the issue.

This is yet another reason to opt for professional cleaning, not the kind available at your local grocery store. If you’ve ever tried over-the-counter options, you may have felt a sudden pain in your teeth or gums. Rest assured you can whiten your teeth without this sharp sting, but you’ll need the help of your dentist.

Next, the dentist will ask you to choose the level of brightness you want – anywhere from 3x to 8x what it currently is. Then pictures will be taken of your teeth for future reference.

After your assessment, the dentist will prescribe one of two methods:

In-Office Whitening

This is probably the most popular option for teeth whitening.

The procedure only takes about an hour, during which your dentist will place a protective barrier over your gums and then apply the whitening bleach to your teeth. Most treatments these days also involve the use of a UV light to activate the whitening gel and really bring out some impressive results.

At the end of the procedure, the dentist may do some touch-up work to give your smile a completely uniform look.

Whitening at Home

If your schedule is packed, whitening your teeth at home may be your only option. This will involve using a custom-made tray that fits your teeth perfectly. You’ll fill it with whitening gel – a mild bleach – and then apply it to your teeth for 30 to 60 minutes a day for one or two weeks.

Who Would Benefits from Teeth Whitening?

The short answer is “everyone.”

Even if you take your oral hygiene routine seriously and care for your teeth every day, you could still benefit from professional teeth whitening.

Everyone’s smile loses its shine over time. That’s because there is a yellowish material beneath the white enamel of our teeth called dentin. As time goes on, our enamel begins to wear down and the darker dentin becomes progressively more visible.

Drinking coffee, red wine, or tea will also downgrade the whiteness of your smile. So will the nicotine and tar in cigarettes.

Many people need professional whitening because of some trauma that damaged their teeth. An injury can trigger greater production of dentin, which, again, darkens your smile.

Whatever the reason, if you’re not 100% comfortable with your smile because of its color, it’s worth speaking to a dentist about teeth whitening.

That said, there are some people for whom teeth whitening may not work. Your dentist will be able to assess if you fall into this category. Fortunately, if you’re not a candidate for teeth whitening, dental veneers are an effective alternative.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Take?

As we mentioned earlier, the actual whitening process only takes about an hour. The initial consultation is quick, so you’ll be in-and-out of the office in no time. Furthermore, as no anesthetic is required, you don’t have to worry about the rest of your day being affected.

How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?

Those of you who have tried over-the-counter teeth whitening options know that the “results” don’t stick around very long – maybe a week or two. That’s why you need to keep buying more and more over time.

On the other hand, a professional teeth whitening treatment can easily last for a year or more. It depends on the individual. If you avoid products like coffee that blemish your teeth, your new and improved smile could last for two years or longer.

Either way, it’s an incredibly long time to enjoy a better smile after such a minor procedure.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Again, the cost will differ from person-to-person, depending on the state of their smile when they go in for whitening. Speak to a dentist about the cost sooner rather than later, and it will much be easier to adjust your budget appropriately.

If a whiter smile is your top priority, you’ll find the cost very reasonable. This is especially true if you compare it to store-bought applications you’ll need to continuously spend money on year after year after year.

Would You Like to Learn More About Teeth Whitening?

Whether you’re ready for a consultation or you have specific questions about your unique smile, the team at South Austin Dental Studio is here to help – and has been for 30 years! Give us a call today at 512-842-4576 with any questions you have about getting a brighter, whiter smile.


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