What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is the process of using bleaching products in order to brighten stained or darkened teeth. The cause of these stains can come from food, tobacco, injury, or aging. Depending on the whitening method teeth can either be restored to their natural shade or be whitened beyond that shade. Patients can receive this popular procedure for a one time boost or continue to maintain their brighter color.
What Causes Stained Teeth?
Teeth have several layers of material. The outermost is a layer of enamel. Enamel is one of the strongest materials in the body. However, it is porous. This means that there are microscopic channels that travel from the surface of each tooth inward toward the center. Most discoloration stems from tiny particles of debris accumulating in these micro-channels. Debris blocks the light that reflects off of enamel which dulls and alters the shade of white we expect to see in a healthy smile.
Tooth Discoloration: Extrinsic Vs. Intrinsic Staining
The most common type of tooth discoloration that occurs is referred to as extrinsic staining. This is the collection of debris in the pores of the outer layer of enamel. Intrinsic staining is a type of tooth discoloration that originates in a deeper layer of the tooth. Rather than the stain lying on the outside, it shows through from the inside out. Intrinsic staining may occur when a tooth has been injured by trauma. This type of stain may also occur as a result of taking the antibiotic tetracycline during a time when teeth were still forming. Intrinsic staining can be problematic and resistant to bleaching processes. However, stains may be covered with porcelain veneers.
Over-The-Counter Whitening Products
Store-bought whitening solutions like strips and also whitening toothpaste can be valuable in certain situations. The occasional use of whitening strips, for example, could decrease the speed of discoloration after professional teeth whitening treatment. The problem that many people encounter is that over-the-counter products are not effective at correcting significant discoloration. If your teeth have become somewhat dull, these products may help by removing surface debris. If, however, your teeth are yellow or more significantly discolored, professional-grade peroxide is needed to penetrate the channels that have become blocked.
Teeth Whitening Sensitivity
Teeth whitening does have a reputation for causing temporary sensitivity. In order for the peroxide to permeate the debris in enamel, the substance must dissolve the protective film layer that covers the outer layer of teeth. The protective layer will return within a relatively short time, but during teeth whitening treatment when the enamel is more exposed, nerves are more responsive to stimuli such as warm or cold beverages.
Sensitivity should not keep you from getting the radiant smile you deserve. We can suggest remedies such as using toothpaste and desensitizing trays for sensitive teeth to help you tolerate teeth whitening in the most comfortable way.
How Can I Keep My Teeth White Longer?
Using teeth whitening toothpaste is one way to postpone the return of discoloration. Because teeth become stained by foods and beverages, it can also help to rinse the mouth with water after consuming certain items, such as red wine or coffee. Discoloration can also be inhibited with good oral care; brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Every time we clean your teeth here in the office, surface debris is polished away, restoring brightness. Other options include bleaching gel applied into retainers, disposable bleaching trays, whitening pens, and other products by Opalescence and Venus White.
In-Office Teeth Whitening
At Clarendon Dental Arts in Arlington, VA we offer in-office teeth whitening options that can brighten your teeth up to 5 shades. During a consultation with Dr. Fresch Gray, patients will discuss their preferred method of whitening. Bleaching options include professionally applied whitening gel.
- Whitening gel
Whitening Teeth Gel
If a patient chooses whitening gel, Dr. Fresch Gray will apply a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide to the teeth. Patients will have to let the gel sit on their teeth at the office but can return to normal activities following the appointment.
“So grateful that the Clarendon Dental Arts Team cares for my mouth and body to give me peace of mind. They are a rare combination in the professional medical field – both highly skilled and genuinely caring. They are simply the best!” -Regina
Before & After Teeth Whitening
Benefits Of In-Office Whitening
Many people choose to let us do the whitening work for them. The primary benefit of this technique is that mild to moderate staining can be completely reversed in just one whitening session. This is because we can repeat the whitening process a few times to achieve maximum lift. In-office whitening is safe and effective. After just one treatment, teeth may be whiter than they were naturally before treatment.
There are many options patients can choose from to whiten their teeth. Those that choose in-office whitening can expect to receive benefits including:
- Professional supervision
- Fast treatment and results
- Longer-lasting results
- Fewer sensitivity issues
Alternative Teeth Whitening Options
For those that cannot commit the time to an in-office visit have alternative options for teeth whitening. One option is custom mouth trays. Patients can receive these trays from Clarendon Dental Arts along with the in-office solution. These trays are custom fit and allow patients to apply the solution at their leisure. However, patients do not benefit from the professional application that comes with an in-office visit.
If in-office methods and take-home trays are too expensive patients can buy over-the-counter tooth-whitening kits. These options are less expensive than in-office treatments so the solution is a lower strength. Therefore, the whitening product will take a longer time to work or never provide the level of whitening desired.
Schedule A Consultation
Our ultimate goal is to care for your Mouth, Mind, and Body. To learn more about teeth whitening call 703.525.5901 to schedule a consultation today! We are located in Arlington, VA close to Washington D.C., Rosslyn, Lyon Park, Fort Myer, Cherrydale and Virginia Square.