Changes in the color of your teeth are often subtle and occur gradually. Some yellow color on your teeth is inevitable, especially as you age. The yellow-colored dentin underneath becomes more visible as the outer enamel wears off. Dentin lies beneath the enamel layer, and it consists of a layer of calcified tissue. There are several teeth whitening procedures, both at-home and professional teeth whitening. You should be careful with at-home teeth whitening procedures because they can have adverse effects, mainly if you use the products for too long or in large quantities. Incorrect use of teeth whitening products might wear off the enamel, putting you at risk of tooth sensitivity or dental cavities. Professional teeth whitening conducted at the dentist’s office is safer and yields better results. If you need reliable teeth whitening treatment in Lomita, CA, contact Washington Dental.

Teeth Whitening Products and Systems

Several teeth whitening products and systems exist, including over-the-counter gels, toothpaste, strips, rinses, and whitening products obtained from a dentist. People with yellow tones to their teeth respond best to teeth whitening. However, this cosmetic dental procedure is not ideal for everyone. Teeth whitening is mainly recommended for people with healthy teeth without dental restorations like dental fillings.

There are numerous types of at-home teeth whitening products that you can try including gels, rinses, toothpaste, chewing gums, and strips. However, it is not easy to brighten your smile using at-home whitening products. It is advisable to consult your dentist before you start using at-home teeth whitening procedures. It is crucial to consult your dentist first if you have the following conditions:

  • Dental restorations
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Dental fillings and crowns
  • A single dark tooth or very dark stains on the teeth

The carbamide peroxide levels in at-home teeth whiteners range between 10% and 20%. You should use a tooth whitening product whose peroxide percentage is within that range. You can choose a product with a higher level of hydrogen peroxide if you are not satisfied with the teeth whitening effects you seek. You should stop using a tooth whitening product if it bothers or irritates your mouth in any way. If you don’t seem to reap any benefits from teeth whitening products, you should contact a dentist to help you find a teeth whitener that meets your needs.

Teeth Whitening Toothpastes

All toothpaste contains a mild abrasive, meaning that they help remove mild stains. In addition, certain teeth whitening toothpaste contain chemical or gentle polishing agents that provide enhanced stain removal effectiveness. The prices of teeth whitening toothpaste range between $1 and $20, but this may vary depending on the product. Whitening toothpaste does not contain bleach and is only effective in removing surface stains. Professional and over-the-counter teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, which lightens the color deep within the tooth. Usually, teeth whitening toothpaste whiten a tooth's color by about one shade. However, the professional teeth whitening procedures conducted at the dentist’s office lighten the teeth with three to eight shades.

Teeth Whitening Strips and Gels

Whitening gels are applied directly to a tooth’s surface using a small brush. Whitening gels consist of clear peroxide-based gels. The instructions for application will vary depending on the strength of the peroxide. When using over-the-counter whitening gels, you should read the instructions on the gel packaging carefully. You will notice the initial effects of the whitening gel after several days and the final results after around four months. A full teeth whitening course using whitening strips and gels takes between 10 and 14 days. For most teeth whitening strips and gels, you have to apply them twice. You can obtain teeth whitening strips and gels from your dentist, pharmacy or buy them online at a price ranging between $10 and $55.

Usually, teeth whitening strips are extremely thin, almost invisible strips coated with hydrogen peroxide gel. You should apply the whitening strips as per the instructions on the label. You will see the initial results after several days and the final results after four months.

Teeth Whitening Mouth Rinses

Teeth whitening rinses are among the newest teeth whitening products on the market. Just like mouthwashes, these rinses freshen the breath and reduce the risk of gum disease and dental plaque. Mouth rinses contain ingredients like hydrogen peroxide that whitens the teeth. Most manufacturers state that it might take up to 12 weeks to see the results of mouth rinses. When using a mouth rinse, you simply swish the solution in your mouth for around 60 seconds before brushing your teeth. You should repeat this procedure around twice a day.

As outlined by some dental experts, rinses might not be as effective as other teeth whitening products. This is because a mouth rinse only comes in contact with the teeth for a short while. For instance, when you swish a mouthwash twice a day, the solution is in contact with your teeth for roughly two minutes. However, teeth whitening strips and gels are in contact with the teeth for a much longer period, making them more effective than mouth rinses in whitening the teeth.

You can give the teeth whitening mouth rinses a boost by rinsing your teeth first and then using a teeth whitening toothpaste to brush. The cost of teeth whitening mouth rinses ranges around $5 per bottle.

Tray-based Whiteners

You can obtain tray-based teeth whiteners from your dentist or purchase them over-the-counter. This teeth whitening procedure entails filling a tray that resembles a mouthguard with a gel teeth whitening solution containing a peroxide-based bleaching agent. You then wear the tray for a certain period, usually several hours a day or all days during the night for up to a month or longer. How long you wear the trays will depend on the extent of tooth discoloration and your desired level of teeth whitening. If you obtain the tray-based teeth whitening systems from a pharmacy, you will likely pay around $30. Having a custom-fitted tray from your dentist will cost between $150 and $600.

Safety Precautions While Using Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products

While using over-the-counter teeth whitening products, you should take certain precautions:

  • Adhere to all directions — When using whitening strips and gels, you should avoid leaving them on your teeth longer than recommended. Failing to follow recommendations might leave you with sores on your gums or set you up for other problems. In addition, while using teeth whitening products, you should avoid using a sports drink, soda, or other acidic drinks that could ruin your teeth.
  • Stop the treatment if you notice adverse effects — While using teeth whitening products, it is normal for your teeth to feel a bit sensitive. However, this sensitivity is usually brief. If your teeth and gums are in good shape, the sensitivity might not be a big issue. However, if you notice any side effects that bother you, you should stop the procedure and contact your dentist. The gel-filled trays that are worn over the gums might at times irritate your gums, especially if they don’t fit properly. If you notice any form of gum irritation, it is advisable to stop using this product.
  • Do not overdo the teeth whitening procedure —You should avoid overdoing the teeth whitening even if you strongly desire to have sparkling teeth. For the best results, you should follow a product’s usage directions. After obtaining the desired results, an occasional touch-up is enough. When you finally have the desired teeth color, a bleaching session will be enough once or twice per year. Overdoing the teeth whitening procedures may weaken the enamel and make you prone to tooth decay.

Professional Teeth Whitening

In-office or professional teeth whitening provides the quickest and the most effective teeth whitening option. A cosmetic dentist conducts this procedure in a dental clinic. Usually, the dentist applies the whitening product directly to the teeth. The dentist may use teeth whitening products in combination with laser, heat, or special light. After one 30 to 60 minutes procedure, you will see the results of the teeth whitening. However, the dentist may recommend several teeth whitening sessions for you to record the best results. In-office teeth whitening is a more costly procedure but yields better and long-lasting results.

Before you decide to purchase at-home teeth whitening, it is advisable first to undergo a mouth exam and professional cleaning. You might be surprised to learn that you only needed professional dental cleaning to restore the brightness of your teeth. During the dental exam, the dentist will check the health of your gums and check your teeth for dental cavities. It is safer to have all dental problems treated before you decide to whiten your teeth. If you still decide to use over-the-counter teeth whitening products, you should ask your dentist about the ideal product to use and the expected results. It is normal for the teeth to darken with age. The extent of color change will vary from person to person.

How Long the Teeth Whitening Effects Last

The effects of teeth whitening are not permanent. The whiteness of your teeth might start to fade after a little as one month if you expose your teeth to beverages and foods that might cause staining. The degree of whiteness will vary from one person to the other depending on the level of staining, the condition of the teeth, and the type of whitening used. Below are tips to help you maintain the brightness of your teeth after teeth whitening:

  • Stay away from foods and drinks that might stain your teeth — Any food or drink that contains tannins and acids could stain your teeth. Go easy on the wine, carbonated drinks, coffee, black tea, and berries. You should also avoid other intensely colored meals like curry, soy, and tomato.
  • Immediately after you consume stain-causing foods or beverages, ensure that you brush your teeth.
  • Ensure that you practice good oral hygiene practices — Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily to remove plaque from the teeth. It is advisable to rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash once daily to eliminate bacteria that cause plaque buildup. Once or twice a week, ensure that you use whitening toothpaste to prevent teeth yellowing and remove surface stains. You should continue using regular toothpaste the rest of the time.
  • Consume more calcium-rich foods and proceeds — Eating high-calcium foods like cheese can help keep your teeth white. Munching on veggies and fruits also helps scrub the teeth and keep them clean. Most people agree to the fact that their teeth feel clean after consuming fruits like apples.
  • Ensure that you avoid cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and tobacco — Chewing tobacco could yellow your teeth. Staying away from tobacco will give you not only whiter teeth but also a healthier heart.
  • Use a straw — You should ensure that you use a straw whenever you consume staining liquids to prevent them from contacting your teeth.
  • Visit your dentist for regular dental cleanings — After teeth whitening, you can maintain your teeth by visiting your dentist regularly for professional dental cleaning. Professional cleaning helps remove plaque and stains from the teeth. Your dentist can keep your teeth looking great.
  • Regular touch-ups — You may need regular touch-ups every six months or yearly. You may need a touch-up more often if you smoke or consume stain-causing beverages regularly.

At-Home Bleaching vs. Professional Teeth Whitening

The do-it-yourself teeth whitening procedures aren’t as effective as having your teeth cleaned by a dentist. Below are the main differences between having your teeth cleaned by a dentist and doing it at home:

The Strength of the Whitening Product

Dentist-supervised at-home teeth whitening products and over-the-counter products have a lower concentration of the bleaching agent. They contain between 10% and 22% of carbamide peroxide content, which translates to around 3% hydrogen peroxide. Professional teeth whitening products have a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide, usually ranging between 15% and 43%, meaning that they are more effective than at-home teeth whitening products.

Mouthpiece Trays

Over-the-counter teeth whitening gels contain mouthpiece trays. However, you aren’t assured that you will get trays that fit perfectly, given the one-size-fits-all approach of over-the-counter products. If the mouthpiece trays do not fit well, you are at a higher risk of gum and soft tissue irritation. The trays will allow the excessive gel to seep into the gums.

With professional teeth whitening, the dentist will impression your teeth to enable them to make a mouthpiece that fits perfectly. The customized mouthpiece tray allows maximum contact between your teeth and the whitening gel. The well-fitting mouthpiece tray will also minimize the gel’s contact with your gum tissue. 

Protective Measures

During professional teeth whitening, the dentist employs specific protective measures to shield your gums and soft tissues from irritation. For instance, the dentist may place rubber shields on your teeth, which slide over your teeth or apply a special gel to your gum tissue. These protective measures will protect your gums or oral cavities from the effects of bleaching. While using over-the-counter teeth whitening products at home, you may not be able to observe these protective measures.

Procedure Costs

A professional teeth whitening procedure is more costly than using over-the-counter products. However, the results of professional teeth whitening are better and longer-lasting than those of over-the-counter procedures.

Supervision by the Dentist

Before conducting professional teeth whitening, the dentist will first conduct a thorough oral exam. The dentist will also consider your medical history to determine whether you are a good candidate for teeth whitening. Other factors that dentists consider when assessing if teeth whitening is a suitable procedure that includes assessing the extent of teeth staining and the presence of dental restorations. Your dentist will help you choose the ideal teeth whitening procedure based on the extent of teeth whitening.

When you have a dentist perform your teeth whitening procedure, you will have an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarifications. The dentist will make customized trays that fit your teeth and regularly check your gums for any signs of irritation. Your dentist will review your teeth regularly to see how the whitening is progressing. However, when you go for at-home teeth whitening, you will be on your own with no one to guide you through the process.

When Teeth Whitening Is Not Recommended

In certain circumstances, a teeth whitening procedure is not recommended and may not yield the desired results:

Young or Pregnant Persons

For people under 16 years, teeth whitening is not recommended. Until this age, the pulp chamber or the nerve of the tooth is often enlarged. Tooth whitening could irritate the pulp or cause sensitivity. Teeth whitening procedure is also not recommended for pregnant women or lactating mothers.

Allergies or Sensitive Teeth

You may not be a good candidate for teeth whitening if you have allergies, sensitive teeth and gums, defective restorations, and receding gums. If you have any of the outlined conditions, you should contact your dentist before using a tooth-whitening system. You should not use a bleaching agent if you are allergic to hydrogen peroxide because most teeth bleaching products contain hydrogen peroxide.

Gum Disease and Cavities

People with gum disease, cavities, worn-out enamels, or exposed roots aren't good candidates for teeth whitening. You should have cavities treated before you undergo a teeth-whitening procedure. If you undergo teeth whitening and have holes in your teeth, the teeth whitening agents may penetrate the tooth's inner areas, which could cause tooth sensitivity. Teeth whitening will not yield results if you have exposed tooth roots because the roots do not have an enamel layer.

Dental Restorations, Crowns, and Fillings

Using teeth whitening products when you have dental restorations like veneers, bridges, and bonding often result in uneven teeth whitening because dental restorations do not whiten. The teeth without restorations will appear much lighter than the teeth with restorations. You should have teeth whitening procedures done before the placement of dental restorations. If you have numerous dental restorations that will result in uneven whitening, you should consider other options like veneers, bonding, and crowns instead of teeth whitening. Your dentist will advise you on the best strategy for you.

Unrealistic Expectations

You might end up being disappointed if you have unrealistic expectations of how your teeth will look after the teeth whitening procedure. For instance, if you are a smoker, you should know that the teeth whitening results will be limited if you are not willing to quit smoking, especially during the bleaching process.

Darkly Stained Teeth

If you have darkly stained teeth, the teeth may not respond to teeth whitening. Yellowing teeth respond best to bleaching, while brownish teeth respond slightly. However, if you have purple-stained or grayish-hue teeth, they might not respond at all to bleaching. If you have blue-gray staining that often results from antibiotic tetracycline, it might be more difficult to whiten your teeth. You might need several in-office appointments or months of home treatments to achieve the desired results. If you have darkly stained teeth, you may be a better candidate for other teeth whitening procedures like bonding, crowns, and dental veneers.  Your dentist will examine the extent of teeth staining and recommend the ideal whitening option for you.

Common Risks Associated With Teeth Whitening

Which are some of the common risks and side effects of teeth whitening procedures? The most common side effects are mild irritation of the gums and soft tissues and tooth sensitivity. You may experience tooth sensitivity during the early stages of tooth bleaching. Often, gum and soft tissue irritation don't result from the tooth-bleaching agent but ill-fitting mouthpieces. However, these side effects are mild and will disappear several days after completing the teeth whitening treatment.

If you experience continued tooth sensitivity, you should:

  • Wear the tray for short periods — For instance, you can wear the tray for two sessions, thirty minutes each, instead of wearing it for continuous 60 minutes.
  • Stop the teeth whitening procedure for several days to allow your teeth to adjust to the treatment.
  • Request your pharmacist or dentist for a fluoride-containing product that can help to remineralize your teeth. Apply the fluoride product to your trays and wear for several minutes before using the whitening agent.
  • Brush your teeth using toothpaste made for sensitive teeth — Using toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate will help soothe the tooth’s nerve endings.

Find Tooth Whitening Services Near Me

If you have always wanted to have a bright smile, teeth whitening could significantly improve your smile by giving you sparkling teeth. We welcome you to contact Washington Dental for professional teeth whitening services in Lomita, CA. Contact us at 310-326-5183 and speak to one of our dentists.