About 3 in 5 Americans hate the way their smile looks in photos. One of the main reasons for this disdain is due to their teeth. Discolored teeth can do a lot to drain a person's confidence.
It also affects how others look at them. Someone with yellowed teeth is automatically judged as having poor hygiene, even if that isn't the case. For example, if two people with the same credentials go into a job interview, the one with the best overall appearance is more likely to get the position.
That's why dentists offer teeth whitening. Making an appointment can be a great way to spruce up your smile and regain some of your lost self-esteem. Check out this guide to learn how it works.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is a dental method that focuses on giving a person a brighter smile. There are several treatment options available, from bleaching to UV light therapy.
If going for an in-office whitening isn't in the cards for you, there are also kits that you can buy at your nearest drugstore.
Benefits of Teeth Whitening
Scheduling a teeth whitening can do wonders for your self-esteem. Those with a gorgeous set of pearly whites tend to carry themselves with more confidence.
A brighter smile can open doors to your future, and the procedure is fairly inexpensive. Whitening treatments can also improve your oral health.
Many people base their self-worth on their physical appearance. Those who hate their smile often avoid smiling in pictures and feel worse about themselves overall.
Those who feel good about themselves often do more than schedule a whitening. They get out and exercise and eat better. They do everything they can to maintain their newfound confidence.
The Procedure Is Quick
If you have a busy schedule, you'll be happy to know that teeth whitening is quick.
You should be in and out of the dentist's chair in about an hour. That's about as much time as it takes for a regular dental cleaning.
Poor oral health can cause medical problems later on in life. Some of these problems include, organ failure, cancer, cognitive issues, and heart disease. It can even lead a person toward an early death.
When you have the stains removed from your teeth, it allows them to become stronger and healthier.
Having a whiter smile can open a ton of opportunities for you. As bad as this may seem, employers do judge potential employees based on their physical appearance. That includes their smile.
Many people equate discolored teeth with bad hygiene. As you can imagine, it doesn't create the best first impression in job interviews.
Those with brighter smiles often carry themselves with more confidence. This makes them more attractive to employers and potential romantic partners.
As far as dental procedures go, teeth whitening is one of the more affordable treatments. Hydrogen peroxide and laser whitening will cost you about $500.
If you want to go in for a deep bleaching, things get more expensive. You'll spend a little over a thousand dollars for the entire procedure.
If all of these options are out of your price range, buying an at-home kit from the drugstore is only $20 or so.
Whether you choose an at-home or in-office whitening, you have options. There are toothpastes, strips, gels, rinses, and tray-based products.
Your dentist can give you a hydrogen peroxide treatment or use a laser to brighten your teeth.
Whitening toothpaste contains abrasives that can remove surface stains from your teeth. For the most part, the ingredients are just stronger versions of the ones used in normal products. That means they aren't too hard on the teeth and gums.
Whitening toothpaste isn't as effective as getting an in-office treatment. In fact, it's only capable of making a person's teeth a single shade whiter.
Strips and Gels
If you're looking for an over-the-counter whitening option that delivers better results than toothpaste, look no further than strips and gels. They go beyond clearing up surface stains, but they are a little more involved.
In the case of both products, you'll have to apply them twice a day for 14 days. If you're using the strips, you'll need to keep them in your mouth for 30 minutes before removing them.
Whitening rinses work the same way as mouthwash. They can brighten your smile and freshen your breath. They can also clear away plaque and reduce your chances of developing gum disease.
Rinses are simple enough to work into your regular oral hygiene routine. You'll use your product of choice for 60 seconds twice a day.
Rinses are the least effective whitening option on the market. You won't see results for at least 12 weeks.
If you have the money for it, making a whitening appointment with your local dentist office will provide the best results. There are two methods that the dentist will use to lighten your pearly whites.
The first is hydrogen peroxide. Your dentist will prep your teeth by cleaning away plaque and food debris.
Once your teeth are clean, they'll place a protector in your mouth to pull your cheeks away from your teeth. After that, the dentist will put a film around your gums to shield them from the whitening product.
From there, it's all a matter of applying the hydrogen peroxide gel to your teeth. They'll let it sit for about 15 minutes before repeating the process and rinsing your mouth.
The second whitening solution dentists offer in-office is a laser treatment. The process starts the same way it does with hydrogen peroxide whitening.
The dentist will clean your teeth before placing the cheek protector in your mouth. Once they finish the prep work, they will apply a whitening gel to your teeth and have you sit in front of a laser for around 15 minutes. Depending on your situation, you may have to sit through 3 to 4 whitening sessions during your visit.
Tray-based whitening kits are trays that are filled with a hydrogen peroxide solution. It looks sort of like a mouthguard.
For the best results, you'll need to wear it for a few hours every day. You can buy these kits from your dentist or get them over the counter.
Things to Know Before Your Teeth Whitening
Before you schedule your teeth whitening appointment, there are a few things that you need to know. The reason why dentists start the process by cleaning your teeth is that it will make the whitening treatment more effective.
The results of most treatments last for about a year, and if you want to make the most out of your whitening, you may have to change your diet.
Clean Teeth Take the Treatment Better
Whitening solutions don't play nicely with plaque. That's why dentists start every treatment session with a cleaning.
To get the most out of your whitening, it's recommended to schedule your appointment about a week after a regular cleaning. This will reduce the amount of prep work that your dentist has to perform.
Your teeth may be a bit sensitive after whitening. If you want to reduce the impact of this side effect, brush with fluoride toothpaste before your appointment.
Whitening Isn't for Everyone
Teeth whitening isn't safe for everyone. If you have gum disease, for example, you should never go in for a whitening treatment. Doing so will worsen your condition.
If you've recently undergone any type of oral surgery, it's recommended to hold off on having your teeth whitened for a while.
Whitening Will Last Up to a Year
Whitening isn't a permanent solution. After about a year, your teeth will begin to stain once again.
To keep your pearly whites looking bright and healthy, make a whitening appointment once a year.
If your teeth begin to look a little dull before a year is up, try holding off on scheduling another session. Whitening twice a year can damage your teeth by drying out the enamel.
Restorations Don't Whiten
Teeth whitening won't lighten your dental fillings or implants. That means if you have implants that stand out after you have your teeth whitened, you'll need to replace them.
When you're budgeting for your procedure, make sure that you factor this possibility in.
Seek Out a Professional
When you're looking for someone to whiten your teeth, make sure they are a professional. It's illegal for anyone but a licensed dentist to do the job for a reason.
While one of your local salons might advertise teeth whitening, you'll be putting yourself at risk if you make an appointment.
The Cost Can Vary
If you decide to make a whitening appointment with your dentist rather than going the over-the-counter route, it's important to note that the price you pay will vary.
The treatment will likely cost more if your dentist is located in a large city. Dental professionals that use a light for whitening procedures instead of the traditional laser often charge more.
If you find that you can't afford your whitening treatment, ask your dentist if they offer payment plans.
Change Your Diet for the Best Results
If you want the results of your whitening to stretch the entire year, you may have to make some changes to your diet.
Stay away from coffee, dark soda, tea, and red wine. If you're a smoker, now is the time to quit. Tomato-based products and blueberries are also a no-go.
If you don't like the idea of giving up your morning coffee cold turkey, that's okay. You can go back to it 48 hours after your whitening treatment. If you drink it before then, the pores in your teeth will soak up the dye like a sponge.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
Going in for a teeth whitening treatment is 100% safe, but it doesn't come without its side effects.
Once you step out of your dentist's office, you may find that your teeth are more sensitive than normal. It can also cause some minor gum irritation.
During any whitening procedure, your dentist will shield your gums using a film. This cuts out the risk of gum irritation almost entirely.
The only time when you may experience any discomfort is after using a take-home kit. If you don't follow the instructions on the box, it can cause issues.
If you experience any side effect after a teeth whitening, it will be sensitivity. This is especially true for those with weakened enamel.
You'll increase your chances of experiencing sensitivity if you use a take-home kit. The slightest error will take a toll on your teeth.
Don't set your expectations too high if you want to avoid disappointment. While teeth whitening can take care of most stains, it can't remove the more severe ones.
Before your treatment, your dentist will use a chart to show you what your results will look like. If the shade isn't as bright as you would like, they will discuss other treatment options.
Everything You Need to Know About Teeth Whitening
Scheduling a teeth whitening is a great way to regain confidence in your smile. It can also improve your overall oral health.
The treatment can be a bit expensive. If you can't afford to make an appointment with your dentist, you can always try an at-home kit. No matter what treatment option you decide to go with, make sure you don't set your expectations too high, and be prepared for tooth sensitivity.
For more tips that will help you improve your smile, visit the Health section of our blog.