Teeth Whitening & Bleaching

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening and bleaching are popular cosmetic dental procedures that effectively and safely provide you with a brilliantly bright smile. If you want a smile that’s brighter and whiter, we recommend you chat with Dr. Tinkle or Dr. Yoon at Belmont Family Dentistry about which whitening procedures would work the most effectively for you.

Teeth whitening and bleaching are inexpensive procedures, and depending on your preference, you can choose to whiten or bleach just your upper teeth or both the top and bottom rows. With just one teeth whitening or bleaching treatment, you will be amazed at the results and feel confident enough to smile.

What is the difference between teeth whitening and bleaching?

The terms teeth whitening and bleaching are often used interchangeably. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), whitening is the process of restoring the natural color of teeth by removing stains from the tooth surface (removing extrinsic stains). Teeth bleaching, on the other hand, refers to whitening teeth beyond their natural color (changing the intrinsic color of teeth). Similarly, both methods are used for improving the color of teeth.

These methods either restore the original color of teeth (whitening) or brighten them beyond their original color (bleaching).

What causes tooth discoloration?

Tooth discoloration or yellowing is caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Advancing age (natural tooth enamel breaks down, revealing the yellowish color of dentin)
  • Smoking or using other tobacco products
  • Caffeine intake, for example, coffee and tea
  • Certain drugs or medication (e.g., tetracycline, an antibiotic)
  • Trauma
  • Genetics (some people have naturally yellowish teeth)
  • Betel-chewing
  • Fluorosis

Are over-the-counter teeth whitening kits effective?

OTC whitening kits produce some results, but they are not as long-lasting as at-home or in-office approaches. If you do use these kits, use ones that bear the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance indicating that they are both safe and effective for whitening when used as directed.

How effective are in-office and at-home teeth whitening options?

In-office and at-home options for teeth whitening and bleaching are the preferred method, as they are dentist-supervised-whitening products. They are more effective than OTC whitening kits because they have greater concentration levels of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which offer faster, longer-lasting results.

What is the process for at-home teeth whitening?

For at-home teeth whitening, certain whiteners can be put into a mouthguard or tray which you wear on your teeth for 30-60 minutes every night for 3 weeks or until the desired color is achieved. These whiteners, which usually come in a gel form, contain peroxide, which bleaches the tooth enamel. The nice thing about trays and mouthguards is that they can be reused for several years. You can even do at-home refresher bleaching one or two times per year to remove any stains that have popped up since your last whitening treatment. This whitening method is nice, but you should know that it might expose you to some side effects like irritated gums and heightened sensitivity.

Who is an Ideal Candidate for Teeth Whitening and Bleaching?

Teeth whitening and bleaching may be right for you if you have:

  • Generalized stains on your teeth
  • Aging teeth
  • Smoking and dietary stains on your teeth from tea and coffee
  • Dental fluorosis (having multiple spots on your teeth from fluoride)
  • Tetracycline staining (improves but doesn’t correct it totally)
  • Changes to the inside of your tooth (e.g. death of the nerve or root canal treatment)

Note that not all whiteners are created equal. Some may not be able to correct all kinds of teeth discolorations. For example, if your teeth have a yellowish hue, they will probably bleach well. Brownish-hued teeth, on the other hand, aren’t as likely to bleach very well. And grayish-hued teeth are the least likely to bleach well.

Keep in mind that if you’ve had either tooth-colored fillings or bonding put on your front teeth, the whitener will not change the color of the fillings or bonding, which means these materials will become more obvious after you have your teeth whitened. If this could happen, you might want to consider getting veneers or dental bonding, which looks more natural.

Who would not be a candidate for teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening and bleaching is not indicated for patients who:

  • Have decay in their mouth, gum disease, or infection underneath their teeth
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a peroxide allergy
  • Have tooth sensitivity
  • Have cracked and exposed dentine (once treated, these teeth can be whitened or bleached)
  • Have discoloration from medications or a tooth injury

Are there any adverse effects associated with teeth whitening?

Not all patients experience side effects after teeth whitening or bleaching, but those who do report tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. For many, these effects are temporary, not lasting more than 1 or 2 days after treatment. To soothe the tingling feeling in the teeth, patients are advised to use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

Is teeth whitening or bleaching permanent?

No, teeth whitening or bleaching is not permanent, because people expose their teeth to a lot of foods and beverages that cause staining. As a result, these patients may start to notice that the whitening is fading within a month after treatment. Most people find they need a touch-up every 4 to 6 months. Others who avoid foods and beverages that stain the teeth may enjoy the benefits of teeth whitening for up to a year after treatment.

What can you do to maintain your brighter smile?

There are several things you can do to maintain your brighter smile including

  • Avoiding foods and beverages that cause teeth to become stained
  • Using a straw so that liquids bypass your front teeth
  • Brushing or rinsing immediately after consuming stain-causing beverages or foods
  • Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing at least once daily to remove plaque
  • Using a whitening toothpaste once or twice a week to remove surface stains and prevent yellowing

Contact Us

Whatever whitening option interests you, remember to run it by Dr. Tinkle or Dr. Yoon, who can suggest the best method for your unique set of pearly whites. 

Call Belmont Family Dentistry at (503) 234-1218 to schedule your teeth whitening or bleaching treatment with our doctors today!