Teeth whitening is a popular dental procedure to give you a brighter, whiter smile. There are, however, many questions associated with teeth whitening. People often wonder what the best procedures are, including pricing, safety, and what has worked well for others. To help dispel some assumptions and confusion related to teeth whitening, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding the dental technique.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
There are several ways to whiten teeth. Whether you choose an over-the-counter product or opt for a Zoom Whitening procedure, teeth whitening works using bleach ingredients to achieve a whiter smile.
Your teeth can have stains in one of two ways: extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are found on the surface, while intrinsic are in the enamel or deep inside the dentin. Whitening toothpastes or mouth washes use non-bleaching agents to remove surface stains, while a more thorough whitening procedure can remove intrinsic stains.
Teeth whitening procedures use bleaching methods actively to change the natural color of your teeth, sometimes five to seven shades brighter. Both in-office procedures and at-home procedures use bleaching to achieve a whiter set of teeth. Bleach contains an active ingredient, usually carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These ingredients can remove deep and stubborn surface stains on teeth that could be a result of many things, including tea, coffee, tobacco, or wine.
The active whitening ingredient enters your enamel and works to combat against discolored molecules in the teeth. Oxygen molecules from the whitening ingredient react with the discolored molecules to break their bonds. After this occurs, the oxygen molecules take over your teeth, spreading within the enamel to produce a brighter smile.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
The cost of teeth whitening will depend on the type of procedure you choose to undergo. In-office procedures will depend on your dentist’s pricing. At-home procedures could cost anywhere between $100 and $400, while usually you’ll pay a little more at the dentist’s office. At-home applications, however, don’t always present the same results as an in-office procedure.
The Consumer Guide to Dentistry helps break down the costs of different teeth whitening options.
Why Does Teeth Whitening Cause Discomfort?
Everyone responds differently to teeth whitening. Some may complain that it is uncomfortable while others respond fine to the procedure. There is something called bleaching sensitivity that often affects patients undergoing a teeth whitening procedure. About 80% of patients using a teeth whitening treatment will experience some form of teeth sensitivity. While doctors are still unsure of why nociceptors activate sensitivity to bleach, there are some actions you can take to find relief after a procedure.
- Talk to your dentist about a prescribed gel or toothpaste for tooth sensitivity
- Don’t eat hot or cold foods for a couple days after the procedure
- Brush gently after the procedure, using lukewarm water
Resources for Tooth Whitening Sensitivity:
Can You Receive Teeth Whitening While Pregnant?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research on the topic of teeth whitening while pregnant. Without more data it is difficult to fully answer whether or not teeth whitening affects you or your developing baby while pregnant. While some pregnant women may choose to whiten their teeth using at-home applications, it’s not recommended for dentists to treat pregnant women with a teeth whitening procedure. Ultimately, the American Dental Association leaves the decision up to women if they want to undergo teeth whitening, however the association and dental professionals still advise against it due to lack of research. It’s always best not to risk it and to avoid and teeth whitening procedures while pregnant.
Can You Receive Teeth Whitening While Breastfeeding?
Similarly, there are no studies to determine if teeth whitening while breastfeeding is safe. Dental and medical professionals will give the same answer to this question when it comes to pregnancy—avoid teeth whitening altogether until you’re done breastfeeding. There is simply not enough research to conclude that teeth whitening is safe during these periods.
What Teeth Whitening Do Celebrities Use?
You might wonder how Hollywood stars obtain their flawless, white smiles. If you’re trying to achieve the same bright smiles as one of your favorite celebrities, then you might consider an office visit to your dentist. Celebrities are more likely to seek professional help for teeth whitening as this will maintain a whiter smile longer. In fact, a lot of celebrities choose Zoom Whitening because it’s a quick procedure with lasting results. NBA All-Star Dwight Howard, stars from the Real Housewives of New York, and many television personalities use Zoom Whitening.
Which Teeth Whitening Products Work Best?
The best teeth whitening products will depend on personal preference, but there are few that have proven exemplary. Like all products, teeth whitening products will have their pros and cons. At Derksen Dentistry, we recommend Zoom Whitening or tray whitening. Zoom Whitening is a one-time office visit for about an hour. The procedure uses a special light to whiten teeth about eight shades brighter. Patients who have chosen this procedure have been happy with the results as the office visit is short, but the results are long-lasting.
Store bought products might be an option for some, and though they can help resolve some issues with teeth stains, they may not always prove long-lasting results. When it comes to home whitening strips, however, current top teeth whitening strips are Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips and Rembrandt Intense Stain Dissolving Strips.
How Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work?
Whitening strips use bleach agents to combat surface stains. They often contain the active ingredient, peroxide bleach. You will find most whitening strips made out of polyethylene, which is a thin, plastic. These plastic strips coated in peroxide bleach rest on your teeth so that the active ingredient can come in contact with the enamel. Always read the packaging to determine how you should you apply the strips and for how long.
Are Teeth Whitening Strips Safe?
Teeth whitening strips are safe as long as they don’t use the ingredient chlorine dioxide. People often ask about some of the more popular products, asking questions such as “Are Crest White Strips safe?”. These, and many of the other more famous over the counter products don’t use chlorine dioxide, but be sure to pay close attention to the ingredients, as often times formulations change. Chlorine dioxide is the same chemical used to clean swimming pools, therefore it will destroy your enamel. Teeth whitening products with this chemical will argue they can make your teeth whiter, however, the chlorine dioxide will begin to eat away your surface enamel to make teeth whiter, which is a very unsafe technique.
If you ever opt for teeth whitening strips, to ensure your safety, proper use is essential. It’s important to do your research on teeth whitening safety for any over-the-counter products you might purchase. Read instructions carefully and consult with your dentist if you have any questions about using at-home teeth whitening products.
Do you live in the Lansing, Michigan area and have more questions about teeth whitening?
If so, feel free to contact the office of Dr. Daniel J. Derksen, DDS, PLLC and we’ll be happy to answer your teeth whitening questions or schedule an appointment for a teeth whitening.