Dentist in Orange and Beaumont Texas

Teeth Whitening

One of, if not the most popular cosmetic dental treatment is teeth whitening. This treatment can help to remove unsightly stains and discoloration from the teeth, allowing them to appear brighter, healthier and more attractive. And while a single teeth whitening treatment can work wonders, the effects of the treatment are not permanent, so an individual will need to continue to receive treatments on a regular basis in order to continue experiencing the desired effects.

How Teeth Whitening Works

The color of a tooth is caused by the outer layer of enamel, as well as the dentin that lies beneath it. It is both the thickness and the smoothness of the enamel that affects how well you can see the color of the dentin beneath it. In addition to this, tooth enamel is porous and can hold stains, and a thin coating forms over the tooth enamel each and every day which can also pick up stains. Teeth are more likely to stain or become yellow if the individual uses tobacco, drinks dark-colored liquids like coffee, tea, cola or red wine, or fails to take proper care of their teeth. Aging also causes tooth enamel to become thinner at the same time that dentin becomes darker, which can cause teeth to look darker in color. In addition to surface staining, there is also the possibility of having intrinsic stains inside the teeth. These stains can be caused by excessive exposure to fluoride while teeth are developing, tetracycline antibiotics and trauma. Surface stains are the easiest stains to address with teeth whitening treatments, but the darkening effects of intrinsic stains can occasionally be improved as well.

Prior to receiving a teeth whitening treatment, the individual must first have any dental problems addressed and resolved. Cavities must be treated so that the whitening solution does not move through the decayed area and into the inner parts of the tooth, where it can cause problems. Receded gums must be treated as they can expose the yellowed or discolored roots of the teeth which cannot be effectively whitened. Furthermore, decayed teeth or teeth that suffer from receding gums are often made uncomfortably sensitive by whitening treatments.

The Teeth Whitening Process

Teeth whitening can either be done in a dental office or at home. Teeth whitening that is done at home with over-the-counter products can achieve varying degrees of success, but does not normally produce as satisfying results as teeth whitening that is done at home with products obtained from your dentist’s office or teeth whitening that is performed in the dentist’s office. Needless to say, teeth whitening that is performed in your dentist’s office usually has the most satisfactory results. In-office teeth whitening normally includes:

  • A photograph of your teeth. Normally your dentist will want to take photographs of your teeth prior to any whitening treatments so that they are better able to track the progress of the treatments.
  • An examination of your teeth. Your dentist will want to examine your teeth to make sure there are no dental issues, like cavities or receding gums, that need to be addressed prior to the whitening treatment. They will usually also ask important questions in order to determine what may have caused the staining to occur.
  • A thorough tooth cleaning. Teeth whitening results can be inconsistent if there is a film of bacteria, food and other substances on the surface of the teeth. It is therefore important to thoroughly clean them prior to a whitening treatment.
  • Application of a gum protecting substance. This will protect the gums from the whitening gel, which can irritate them.
  • Application of a whitening gel. Most whitening gels include some form of hydrogen peroxide to help remove whatever is staining the surface of the tooth.
  • Gel activation. A special dental light or laser is used to activate the gel on the teeth, allowing them to bleach more quickly.

Teeth whitening that is performed in a dental office normally takes anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes, depending on the depth of staining that is being addressed. Most dentists recommend anywhere between one to three treatments at a single time, also depending on the depth of staining that is being addressed.

Teeth that have been successfully whitened with a teeth whitening treatment will need to be re-treated in the future, especially if the individual continues to consume the foods or beverages that contribute to staining. While the treatment is not known to cause any serious side effects, some individuals do feel that their teeth are more sensitive after treatment, and their gums are slightly irritated. Fortunately, both these conditions should pass after a short time–if they do not, the individual should contact their dentist for help.


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