There are many reasons you may wish to have your teeth whitened and many options to choose from. Teeth whitening technology has vastly improved, but it is important to consult with a dentist to find the best option for your needs so your investment yields the best rewards in your smile.
Causes of Tooth Discoloration
There are two types of stains or discolorations for which treatment options vary. The first is due exclusively to external factors – tobacco use, coffee drinking and general wear on the enamel of your teeth. These types of stains can often be managed through brushing, flossing and use of mouthwash. There are professional whitening options that can also help.
The other type of stain is considered an internal issue – medications, trauma, severe enamel wear and decay. These stains are better treated with professional whitening options, and which option is best depends on the cause and extent of the discoloration.
Options For Whitening
At Home Options
At home preparations like whitening trays and toothpastes are an option, but may contain harsh chemicals that are actually harder on your enamel and therefore provide only short term change and must be repeated many times.
Bleaching done in your dentist office is often superior to commercial options and less abrasive. In office bleaching is faster, safer and the results last significantly longer than at home preparations. This is a better option to address discoloration caused by age, tobacco, caffeine, wine and fruit. It is typically not effective for discoloration caused by trauma, excessive fluoride exposure or tetracycline antibiotic use at a young age.
Bonding is a method used to shape teeth and fill in gaps. This method involves applying an enamel-like substance to the teeth before shaping it and letting it harden. It also produces a whitening effect, but the downside is it can also be more likely to stain over time.
Like bonding, veneers involve using a material to cover the front of the tooth to provide shaping, restoring and brightened color. Veneers are made with porcelain or resin and are more resistant to staining than bonding but may still look dramatically different from other teeth around the veneered ones over time.
Why Professional Whitening May Be Best
For long term results professional whitening is best. While it is also more expensive for the initial outlay the investment may be better in the long run because of the effectiveness.
Follow Up Care After Whitening
Following any kind of whitening or restorative procedure it is imperative to exercise good oral care to maintain your investment. This includes
- Brushing at least twice a day
- Flossing at least daily
- Being thoughtful of consumption of enamel staining and damaging items like coffee and soda pop
- Seeing your dentist twice a year for a full exam and professional cleaning