As you age, your teeth can gradually become discolored and look a little dingy. Additionally, your teeth can get discolored by cigarette smoke and some food and drinks. Unfortunately, having discolored teeth can negatively affect the appearance of your smile and consequently hurt your self-confidence. The good news is that it is possible to achieve a whiter and brighter smile by simply seeking professional tooth whitening treatments offered by dentists. But what exactly is it, and what does it entail? 

Here is everything you need to know about tooth whitening procedure.

What Is Tooth Whitening?

Tooth whitening can be understood as the process of lightening discolored teeth. The procedure may involve the physical removal of stains or a chemical reaction aimed at making teeth whiter and brighter. Although some solutions can be used at home, they are not as effective as the professional tooth whitening procedures offered in the dentist’s office. As such, a lot of people prefer professional treatments, which explains why professional tooth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures performed in the USA.

Ideal Candidate for Teeth Whitening

Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for professional tooth whitening. The ideal candidate for the procedure should generally have healthy gums and healthy teeth without cavities or restorations, such as dental fillings, crowns, and implants. You may be advised to avoid a procedure if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are under 16 years of age
  • Have periodontal disease, cavities, or tooth decay
  • Have teeth sensitivity

During your initial meeting with your dentist, your dentist will examine your teeth to help you determine if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening.

How Professional Teeth Whitening Work

Professional tooth whitening is done in the dentist’s office. The dentist will polish your teeth using pumice to remove the plaque on the surface of your teeth. To protect the rest of your mouth from the bleaching solution to be used, retractors will be placed accordingly. A barrier will then be placed along the gum line to protect the gums. To keep your teeth dry during the treatment, gauze will be used to isolate the mouth.

Next, your dentist will apply the solution to the front surface of your teeth. The active ingredient of the solution is either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Depending on the type of bleaching agent your dentist is using, it may need to be activated with a laser or curing light. The solution will then be left on the surface of your teeth for about half an hour or so. Finally, the teeth will then be rinsed, and a fluoride-based solution will be used to ease possible teeth sensitivity.

Teeth Whitening Risks

Although professional services are quite effective in giving people with discolored teeth a bright smile, it is not without risks. Some of the risks associated with professional teeth whitening include:

  • Gum irritation
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Burns and blisters
  • Allergic reactions
  • Stomach upset
  • Rough teeth

However, most of these issues are just minor side effects that will go away within a short while.

Teeth Whitening FAQs

Is tooth whitening safe?

Although there may be some side effects, it is generally safe, especially when it is done by a qualified dentist. In any case, the side effects are mild and temporary, and they will go away within a short time, even without any intervention.

Does teeth whitening hurt?

Teeth whitening does not cause any pain Therefore, if you are concerned about the possibility of pain during the treatment, you can rest easy. However, it is not unusual for some patients to experience teeth sensitivity after the procedure. However, your dentist will prevent this issue by applying a fluoride-based solution. If you know you have a preexisting sensitivity issue, taking a pain reliever before the treatment can go a long way in making your experience as comfortable as possible.

How long does it take to see full results from professional teeth whitening?

Professional teeth whitening gives immediate results. This means that you will be able to notice the difference immediately after your teeth have been rinsed. However, it may take up to 24 hours for you to see the full results. It is important to note that immediate results can only be obtained through professional solutions. Therefore, if you decide to choose to use at-home solutions, you may have to wait for several weeks before you can notice the difference.

How can I maintain a bright smile after teeth whitening?

Professional treatments should give you long-lasting results. However, for you to keep your teeth white for many years to come, you can take the following steps:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice per day
  • Floss daily
  • Seek regular professional dental cleaning
  • Avoid consumption of colored food and drinks, such as red wine, coffee, and tea
  • Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid acidic food and drinks