Teeth whitening is the act of removing surface stains on teeth and restoring the natural shade of your smile or bleaching to reach a desired shade. Stained teeth are most commonly caused by extrinsic factors, including nutritional deficiencies, consuming certain foods and drinks such as coffee, and habits like smoking. All these and more can leave your teeth looking less than white. Many seek to whiten their teeth to a lighter shade by going to a professional office. If you are looking to brighten your smile, consider these tips to make sure your whitening results last as long as possible.
Before your whitening appointment
Ensuring the effectiveness of a whitening procedure starts with preparing your teeth weeks before an appointment. Making sure you practice diligent dental hygiene so your teeth are clean and healthy is the best way to boost your whitening results.
Get a dental cleaning
Getting a professional teeth cleaning will wipe away plaque and surface stains and give teeth a cleaner surface so the whitening process can work at its best. Often, when there is a thick layer of plaque buildup, whitening technology is not able to reach the surface of the tooth very well. With a clean slate, the whitening solution will whiten deeper stains in each tooth.
Make sure your teeth and gums are healthy
Whitening can cause some inadvertent sensitivity if your gums and teeth are not in the best shape. Most whitening solutions have a base of peroxide, the whitening component that strips away stains. In order for whitening to take effect, peroxide must penetrate past the surface of the tooth. For this reason, whitening can cause pain to damaged teeth and sensitivity to exposed gums. Cavities, deeply cracked teeth and gum infections can all contribute to an uncomfortable whitening experience, so make sure all teeth are healthy before going in for a procedure.
Use sensitivity toothpaste
Even if your teeth are healthy, it is possible to still experience some form of dental sensitivity. The procedure is designed to get through superficial stains and target colored compounds underneath the surface. When the peroxide does get past areas with thin enamel, this can aggravate the soft layer of dentin and cause nerve pain. Employing a sensitivity toothpaste in the weeks leading up to a whitening appointment can rebuild and fortify your tooth enamel and help you avoid sensitivity.
Maintenance after whitening
The results of a whitening session can last much longer if you take steps to keep your teeth clean and stain-free after the procedure.
Some tips for keeping your teeth pearly white after a bleaching procedure include:
- Regular dentist visits
- Brushing with a whitening toothpaste
- Flossing twice each day to fight staining between teeth
- Rinsing out the mouth with water often to clear food particles
When it comes to whitening, there are a few options to look at. Keep in mind that over-the-counter and at-home bleaching methods will be less effective than professional office visits. With in-office whitening, referred to as chairside bleaching, a dentist will apply bleaching gel directly to the teeth. You can expect to see results in as few as one visit. If you try at-home treatments, be sure to consult your dentist and follow all instructions to get the teeth whitening results you want.
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