Years of consuming coffee, red wine, black tea, and other dark color foods and drinks, as well as the natural aging process, can leave with discolored teeth.
This in turn can have you scrambling for a teeth bleaching kit. But before you spend your money, you may wonder if bleaching your teeth really make them whiter?
According to research, bleaching your teeth does help whiten them, and it can be done at your dentist’s office or at-home with a teeth whitening product.
How Teeth Whitening Products Help Whiten Your Teeth
Teeth whitening products contain peroxide which, when applied to your teeth, goes to work breaking down various compounds responsible for common tooth stains.
According to the experts at Medical News Today, this is due to its slightly acidic nature that enables it to penetrate the teeth.
It also has oxidating properties that, once inside the tooth, bond to stain-causing molecules and lifts them away, resulting in whiter, brighter teeth.
In fact, peroxide has been shown to effectively whiten teeth from 3 to 10 shades lighter, depending on the treatment.
However, some research suggests that peroxide may not be as effective at bleaching some tooth discolorations, such
as brown, gray, or purple colored teeth.
It also may not be effective for whitening discolored artificial teeth. Instead, the research concludes that peroxide is best for whitening yellow teeth.
Therefore, if you have brown, gray, purple, or discolored artificial teeth that you want to bleach, simply talk to your dentist who can let you know if you are a candidate for teeth whitening.
Your dentist can also recommend the best teeth whitener for your particular teeth stains so you don’t waste time or money on the wrong product.
There are various methods for bleaching your teeth, including:
- Teeth whitening strips – are probably the common method of teeth whitening. It is probably also the least messy. The thin, peroxide treated strips simply adhere to your teeth for bleaching affects.
- Teeth whitening gel – is a peroxide-based gel that is applied to a plastic tray. The tray is then placed onto the teeth, similar to a mouth guard, and allowed to do its work.
- Teeth whitening toothpaste – is similar to regular toothpaste, except it contains 3% peroxide.
Therefore, each time you brush, you benefit from its bleaching action.
However, it is important to select a toothpaste that specifically includes peroxide in its ingredient list; otherwise, it may simply contain an abrasive as its active ingredient.
Abrasives are effective for removing surface stains on the teeth, but they do not emit a bleaching action; therefore, they don’t bleach the teeth.
- Teeth whitening mouthwash – also contains a low dose of peroxide which, each time you rinse your teeth with it, helps whiten your teeth.
Your dentist may even recommend rinsing with a teeth whitening mouthwash to help prolong the effects of your teeth whitening treatment.
- Professional teeth whitening – is done at your dentist’s office, or he or she may provide you with a professional at-home teeth whitening product.
During the office treatment, the dentist will typically apply a high concentration peroxide gel to your teeth and then use a specialized light to accelerate the gel’s bleaching effect.
Because it is a professional treatment, it also provides the most noticeable results.
What Results to Expect
The results of your teeth bleaching treatment depend mostly on your level of staining, as well as whether you use an at-home treatment or an in-office treatment.
At-home teeth whitening products contain between 3% to 20% peroxide, so they often require you to use them at least twice a day with noticeable results in about 14 days.
However, teeth whitening toothpaste and mouthwash can take up to 4 weeks to notice results because they don’t remain on the teeth as long.
Meanwhile, in-office teeth whitening provides the quickest results. Professional teeth whitening products contain between 15% to 43% peroxide, which enables faster bleaching.
The dentist may also use heat, a light, or a combination of the two to accelerate whitening. In some cases, the dentist can provide a one-time teeth whitening treatment in just two hours.
How Long Does Teeth Bleaching Last?
How long teeth bleaching lasts depends on whether you received an in-office treatment or used an at-home product.
However, studies show that on average teeth whitening can last 2 to 3 years or more, depending on the person.
Consuming dark foods and drinks after teeth whitening can gradually restrain your teeth, thus decreasing the effects of your treatment sooner.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Teeth whitening is considered safe by dentists, provided it is done properly. Otherwise, it could result in increased tooth sensitivity.
However, it is normal to experience some tooth sensitivity following the treatment, in which case your dentist may recommend a tooth sensitivity product to address the issue.
Improperly applying teeth whitening strips or gel trays to your teeth can also damage your gums.
If, while applying the teeth whitening strips or gel to your teeth, the peroxide solution is exposed to the gums, it can irritate the sensitive tissue, as well as cause burning, which can lead to painful gums.
Allowing the product to remain on your teeth too long
as well as using teeth whitening products too frequently, can also cause the enamel to wear prematurely.
Therefore, when using at-home teeth whitening treatments, be sure to follow the instructions properly to prevent pain and damage to the teeth and gums. When in doubt, consult with your dentist for the best results.