woman with white teeth smiling

It’s one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures available today: teeth whitening. In fact, teeth whitening has become so mainstream that over-the-counter whitening kits can be found in virtually any drug store. But is teeth whitening right for everyone? What’s the advantage of professional whitening over simply using an at-home whitening kit? Let’s discuss the answers to these questions– and many more– below.

Why whiten my teeth?

First thing’s first: why should you even bother whitening your teeth? There are a variety of reasons why teeth whitening has become so popular over the last several years, including:

  • Self-confidence boost. Many people feel self-conscious about their discolored smiles. They spend years trying to hide their smiles from the world. Teeth whitening, then, often leads to a much-needed boost in confidence.
  • Younger appearance. Stained, yellow teeth often make people look older than their chronological age. A white smile has the opposite effect; it results in a more youthful appearance.
  • Preparing for a major event. Sometimes, people decide to whiten their teeth in anticipation of a major life event: a wedding, an important job interview, a high school reunion.
  • Getting rid of stains. Another good– and simple– reason people choose to whiten their teeth is to get rid of years of yellowing and staining.

What causes teeth discoloration?

Teeth discoloration is a common oral health concern, yet many people are unaware of its causes. Teeth can become discolored or stained for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Food and drinks. There are certain foods and drinks that are notorious for causing teeth stains. Some of the worst culprits are red wine, coffee, tea, and blueberries.
  • Tobacco use. Not only is the use of tobacco harmful to your health, it also results in a discolored smile. This isn’t just limited to cigarette smokers; smokeless tobacco is also a major cause of teeth discoloration.
  • Poor oral hygiene. It may seem like an obvious side effect of poor oral hygiene, but many people don’t associate teeth discoloration with a lack of proper brushing and flossing. When teeth aren’t properly cared for, the accumulation of plaque and tartar deposits can lead to discoloration.
  • Injury. Sometimes, trauma to a tooth can result in discoloration; typically, the affected tooth will be a black, grey, or brown color.
  • Aging. Unfortunately, discoloration is also a result of the natural aging process. As we age, the enamel gradually wears away, revealing the yellow-colored dentin below.

What are my whitening options?

Whitening options available today typically fall into three categories: in-office whitening, at-home whitening, and over-the-counter whitening. Let’s learn a bit about each option:

  • In-office whitening. This option is performed in a dental office in one visit; it’s often referred to as chair-side bleaching. First, your gums are protected, either with a protective gel or shield. Then, the dentist applies bleach to the teeth. Sometimes, a laser is also used during this process in an attempt to maximize the effects of the bleach.
  • At-home whitening. Your dentist will fit you for custom-made whitening trays that can be used at home. Then, a peroxide-containing whitening agent– typically in gel form– is placed in the trays to brighten your smile at home. However, the concentration of the bleaching agent is typically lower than what is used during an in-office whitening procedure.
  • Over-the-counter whitening. Most drug stores sell OTC whitening kits. These kits typically use a whitening agent on a strip that is applied directly to the teeth. Some OTC kits use trays similar to those used in the at-home whitening procedure; however, OTC trays are not custom-fitted and may cause discomfort for people with sensitive teeth or gums.

If you’re ready to brighten your smile, contact Countryside Dental Group today to discuss which whitening treatment is the best option for you!