We all want to be able to smile with pride. Smiling expresses our happiness, and allows us to nonverbally communicate warmth. For those that are concerned about the way their teeth look, though, smiling may be a source of self-consciousness. This may lead to smiling less, or smiling with just the lips. One reason why people are timid about smiling is the yellowness of their teeth.
If you avoid smiling because your teeth are yellow or otherwise discolored, teeth whitening may be the right solution for you.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening includes any process that allows a patient to improve the color and shade of their teeth. This is done with either over-the-counter or professional whitening solutions and products.
Why Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening can restore confidence to a patient, and can allow a patient to smile without fear. This, in turn, can boost a patient’s mood. The act of smiling alone can actually improve your mood, and with whiter teeth, you’ll be able to smile without feeling self-conscious. This can increase your happiness, improve your interactions with others and convey positive emotions much better.
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Professional Versus Store-Bought Whitening
When it comes to whitening, people can either go with professional or store-bought whitening. While store-bought is much easier to purchase (and can be much cheaper), it also isn’t as effective. Even the best store-bought products will not provide the same results as a professional whitening.
When it comes to store-bought whitening products, people may go with less intensive or more powerful whitening products. For minor whitening, people will often purchase whitening toothpaste, mouthwash or even gum. This may be enough for people that have very little whitening that they need done.
Another option for store-bought whitening is whitening strips. These are a more intensive option, and should be used with care. Before the use of whitening strips, a patient should visit a dentist for a consultation—even if the whitening strips are over-the-counter. Some people are not
candidates for teeth whitening because their enamel cannot support it. If this is the case, a trip to the dentist can avoid a lot of potential damage.
If you decide that you would prefer to try store-bought treatment options that are more intensive (like whitening strips), make sure to visit your dentist beforehand. Otherwise, you risk doing serious damage to your teeth.
Unlike store-bought whitening, professional whitening allows you to undergo a whitening procedure with the help of a trained dentist. This significantly decreases the chances of whitening your teeth incorrectly, as well as doing any damage to your teeth. Your dentist will take a look at your teeth and make sure that you are a candidate for whitening before they perform any whitening services.
Professional whitening is also far more effective than over-the-counter whitening. Professional whitening involves the use of whitening agents that cannot be purchased in stores. This means a brighter white—often in a shorter period of time.
Unless you only need your teeth to be a shade or so lighter, consider professional whitening instead of over-the-counter whitening.
At-Home Professional Teeth Whitening
Once you decide to go with professional teeth whitening, your dentist will give you the option of in-office or at-home whitening. Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. At-home whitening is more affordable, but takes significantly longer. At-home whitening may take as long as three to five weeks. How long at-home whitening takes will in large part be determined by how sensitive your teeth are. If your teeth are less sensitive, you may be able to wear the teeth whitening tray overnight. If your teeth are more sensitive, you may only be able to wear the tray for a few hours at a time. Still, once the treatment has been completed, your teeth will be just as white as if you went with in-office treatment.
In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening
In-office treatment is a very popular option for patients that want more immediate results. Actually, in-office whitening can allow a patient to have their teeth whitened up to ten shades whiter in one visit! In-office whitening also is generally only around 45 minutes—making the process simple and quick.
Teeth Whitening Prices
The price difference between in-office and at-home whitening is often a major factor in the decision of which option to go with. In-office whitening is more expensive—being $350 per treatment on average. This expense can add up over time. At-home professional teeth whitening, on the other hand, is generally around $250.
Is Teeth Whitening Permanent?
It’s important to keep in mind that the teeth whitening procedure will need to be performed again from time to time. Teeth whitening is not permanent. How long your teeth whitening lasts will in large part be determined by what you eat, and how well you care for your oral health. In order to increase the longevity of teeth whitening, make sure to avoid foods and beverages that stain the teeth, like coffee and tea. Smoking also contributes to the yellowing of teeth, so quitting or cutting back on smoking is necessary to increase the longevity of teeth whitening.
It’s best to choose a teeth whitening option that you can afford each time your teeth begin to change color and need to be whitened again.
Teeth whitening is often one aspect of an overall smile design. If you have other issues with your smile that you would like to have treated, speak with your dentist about your overall smile design. This may include procedures such as gum contouring, dental bonding, dental veneer placement and other cosmetic procedures.
Speak with a Dentist About Teeth Whitening
If you are unhappy with the shade and/or color of your teeth, speak with a cosmetic dentist to see if you are a good candidate for professional teeth whitening. If you are a candidate, you can discuss whether at-home or in-office whitening would be best for your particular preferences and budget.