Cosmetic tooth whitening

Tooth whitening, in general, involves some type of procedure in which the goal is to rid the teeth of stains and discoloration; in other words, to make the teeth brighter. In some instances, it may be just one tooth that is slightly off in color and doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of your mouth; in other cases, more than one tooth needs to be corrected. There are different techniques to achieve such results: chemical whitening, mild acid whitening, abrasive tooth brightening, and laser tooth whitening. While the results of none of these are permanent, they can last for one or more years, depending on an individual’s habits. Learn everything you need to know—why it is needed, the different procedures, cost, and the risks of getting your teeth whitened—in this article.

How the Teeth Become Discolored
The purpose of cosmetic tooth whitening is to free the teeth of stains and discoloration, as mentioned above. So you may be wondering, how do the teeth become discolored? Well, there are a variety of factors that answer this question, some of them more obvious than others. The discoloration of tooth enamel can be caused by staining, aging, or even chemical damage to the teeth. Other common causes are certain medications and diseases, coffee, tea, and cigarettes. Those who drink a lot of sugary colas will experience color changes as well. If the root of the tooth gets damaged in any way, it may cause some discoloration of the actual tooth. On the other hand, genetics can play a role; some people have naturally bright enamel as compared to other people.

Techniques for Tooth Whitening
These techniques work toward the same goal: getting rid of the brown and yellow discolorations on teeth. However, the techniques are slightly different, and the one for you will depend on a variety of factors, and the dentist will help you choose the one most suitable to fit your needs.

Chemical whitening, also known as tooth bleaching, is the most common technique because it is less expensive than a lot of them; the bleaching is done in the office. It uses a small amount of bleach applied to the tooth, and it is most effective for mildly stained teeth. It can be used in conjunction with another technique, such as laser whitening, in order to achieve the best results for severely discolored teeth.

Laser bleaching is an in-office bleaching procedure. A translucent whitening gel is applied to the tooth and then a laser is used to activate the crystals; once the crystals are activated, they absorb the energy from the light and penetrate the tooth enamel to increase the whitening effect on the tooth (or teeth). The length of time it takes depends on the severity of the discoloration.

Over-the-counter whitening products include such things as whitening toothpaste, whitening strips or gels, whitening rinses, and tray-based tooth whiteners. They are easy to do at home, but will not work on teeth that are very darkly discolored.

Cost of Cosmetic Tooth Whitening
The fee for tooth whitening depends on the specific technique you choose, and whether or not it is done in the office or at home, as with a store-bought product. A laser procedure can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000. Tray bleaching done at home can cost $50 to $100. Whitening strips will cost no more than $25 and toothpastes and mouth rinses even cheaper than that. Many times, insurance will not cover a tooth whitening procedure when it is done in a dentist’s office.

Risks of Tooth Whitening
For the most part, tooth whitening is a safe procedure to undergo, no matter what kind; however, there are risks associated with it. Many times, the teeth will become extra sensitive to temperature, but hopefully only for a short amount of time. Also, gum irritation can be a result of using certain whitening products. Lastly, restorations done previously on the teeth (bonding, crowns, porcelain veneers) will not be changed in color, so the teeth may end up having a few different colors, called Technicolor teeth.

Last updated on Aug 23rd, 2010 and filed under Dental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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