What to Know Before Whitening Your Teeth
Will your whitening be this pronounced? Get the facts behind bleaching to get a better idea of your results
As the most popular cosmetic dental treatment around, teeth whitening is a much-discussed option. But with popularity comes some misconceptions. While whitening can offer some a dazzling grin, it might not have an effect on some stains. How do you know whether it's right for your smile?
We want your cosmetic dentistry to be fulfilling, and that means making sure you have the right expectations. We'll always talk through the treatment process before you get started, but it never hurts to do some research of your own. Get a whitening primer below so that you're informed before your cosmetic consultation. Once you visit our office, Dr. Lee will take a look at your teeth and tell you more about what's possible with whitening.
Types of Tooth Stains
Not all stains are alike. There are a few different reasons your smile might have a yellowish tinge, and we'll need to get to the root of the problem before recommending whitening.
- Intrinsic - Some stains are formed during tooth development. This can happen from the administration of certain antibiotics, or from excessive exposure to fluoride. These stains are internal, and won't be affected by whitening because that doesn't delve deeper than the enamel.
- Extrinsic - The most common type of tooth stain, extrinsic stains are caused by dark compounds becoming lodged in the enamel. Since enamel is porous, there's ample space for stains to take hold. They're usually caused by habits like smoking, drinking red wine, cola, or coffee, or other environmental factors. These stains are the ideal candidate for conventional whitening.
- Erosion - Your teeth are covered by enamel, which lends them their white shade. If the enamel chips away or erodes significantly, the layer beneath will show throw. This layer is called dentin, and is a deeper yellow. Worn teeth are typically yellow because of the lack of enamel, and no amount of whitening will change this - the teeth need to be rebuilt.
When Whitening is Right
As we mentioned, stained enamel is the right target for whitening. The whitening agent penetrates enamels pores and reacts with oxygen, breaking up stains and whitening the teeth. In-office whitening will yield a brighter smile within just one appointment, while home whitening offers gradual results with repeat treatments. We'll recommend the option that fits your preferences, whitening goals, and budget.
Alternative Whitening Options
If you're hoping to whiten other types of stains, it will be necessary to cover the stains and build up the teeth. This is possible with dental bonding, porcelain veneers, porcelain crowns, and more - just set up a consultation to get some guidance.