Teeth whitening in cosmetic dentistry is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure since it whitens the teeth at a relatively low cost. There are two options when it comes to teeth whitening; in- office teeth whitening which is done by the dentist, or at-home teeth whitening. Both options contain peroxide-based bleaching agents, although the at-home option has a relatively lower percentage at 3% – 20% while the in-office option has peroxide from 15% – 43%. The higher the percentage means the shorter period it should take when applied to the teeth to whiten them. Teeth whitening procedure is not done in one session but for maintenance of the brighter color, it is repeated from time to time. Teeth stains are mainly caused by smoking or using tobacco, excessive drinking of dark-colored beverages such as red wine, cola, coffee and tea or simply not maintaining your teeth by taking good care of them. Aging also darkens the dentin while the enamel gets thinner making the teeth less bright.
The enamel is the outer layer of the teeth and it creates the color of the teeth by combining with the dentin’s color under it. Thinner enamel allows the dentin’s color to show through, while rougher enamel affects the color. The smoothness or thickness of the enamel is affected by genes. A pellicle, which is a thin coating, picks up stains and forms on the enamel. The pores contained in the tooth enamel also hold stains. Intrinsic stains form inside the tooth, mainly due to contact with a lot of fluoride when the teeth were still in the developing stage or tetracycline antibiotics are taken during pregnancy by the mother. Teeth whitening act effectively on extrinsic stains which form on the teeth’s surface. Before trying any of the options, it is important to seek advice from your dentist on the option that best suits your condition. Below are the whitening procedures of both options;
In-office whitening procedure
The bleaching solution, when whitening is done by the dentist is usually much stronger and brightens the teeth faster. The dentist first protects the gums everywhere around the teeth by applying a substance before applying the whitening agent. The dentist will then shine special lights, a laser light or even heat from these lights after carefully applying the whitening agent on the affected teeth to activate the process. The process is usually about 30 to 90 minutes. If the teeth are badly discolored, you will require further appointments with the dentist or the dentist could commend prolongation of the bleaching process for a few days or weeks at home. The cost ranges from 500$ to 1000$.
At-home whitening procedure
There are multiple options when it comes to whitening your teeth at home which include;
- Tooth whitening toothpaste. Every toothpaste helps eradicate teeth stains, however, whitening kinds of toothpaste contain polishing agents and chemicals meant to scour and clean the teeth stains without using a bleaching agent. They are also relatively inexpensive.
- Tooth whitening gels and strips. These are bleaching agents that contain peroxide and are applied to the teeth directly with a thin strip or a brush twice daily for 14 days. The results may last for months and it will cost you about 10$ to 55$.
- Tray-based tooth whitening. A custom mouthpiece is made for the upper and lower teeth and filled with a gel or paste containing peroxide. The mouthpiece is worn numerous times a day for up to four weeks. The effects of whitening will start being seen after a week or two. The cost can stretch, depending on the tray-based system, from 150$ to 600$.
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