As we get older, both time and the foods and drinks we consume have an effect on our teeth, particularly the color of the enamel. It fades from white to yellowish. Luckily, this can be reversed through teeth whitening.
The most common teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which are bleaches that break tooth stains into smaller pieces and make the discoloration less concentrated and gives the appearance of a brighter, whiter smile.
3 common ways to whiten your teeth:
- Light-activated bleach – This procedure is done in a dentist’s office, and is usually a little bit more expensive. The dentist applies bleach to the teeth and then uses a light to activate the bleach and speed up the effects of the bleach. Bleach removes both surface and deep-seated stains on the teeth. Most in-office bleaching techniques use 15 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide gels.
- At-home bleaching – With this type of tooth whitening, your dentist creates a custom mold of your mouth, and when you’re at home you place a bleach solution into the trays and wear them a few hours a day or overnight for a few weeks. With this type of bleaching, you can get more solution and whiten your teeth whenever you’d like.
- Over-the-counter whitening – Found at most drugstores, these whitening kits contain strips or trays that have a bleach solution, which you wear for a few hours or overnight. These are typically inexpensive, but the results are not as intense and do not last as long as the options you can get through your dentist.
Everyone responds differently to teeth whitening solutions. There may be some areas of a tooth that aren’t responsive to bleach. Whitening does not work on fillings, crowns, caps, or veneers. The most common side effect of teeth whitening is tooth and gum sensitivity.
It is also worth keeping in mind what discolors teeth and what may reverse the effects of getting your teeth whitened. This includes:
- Food and drink such as coffee, tea, soda, and red wine. These all contain power pigments that are able to penetrate the tooth.
- The tar and nicotine discolor teeth – tar is naturally dark and nicotine use over a long period of time causes yellow discoloration.
- As you get older, the outer enamel of your teeth soften and becomes thinner to reveal the next layer, dentin, which is more of a yellowish color.
- Young children who take certain antibiotics may be at risk for discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Certain antihistamines and high blood pressure medications can also cause tooth discoloration.