There are numerous things that could cause a missing tooth. It might be due to a large cavity, gum disease, or even traumatic injury. No matter the cause, many patients are concerned about the unattractive gap where the tooth once was. Thankfully, there are procedures that can restore a healthy, attractive smile. Some of the…
How an Annual Teeth Whitening with a Cosmetic Dentist Can Improve Your Smile
Discolored or yellowed teeth can make people feel self-conscious, but a cosmetic dentist can transform their appearance and make them look brighter. When it comes to tooth whitening, there are three treatment options: in-office procedures, at-home custom kits from the dentist and over-the-counter whitening kits. Professional whitening is recommended once a year to maintain a pearly white smile.
Types of tooth stains
Before beginning any whitening treatment, it is important to understand the two different types of stains. Teeth can become discolored for several reasons and various types of stains may respond differently to whitening treatments.
Extrinsic stains occur on the outermost layer of the tooth called the enamel. These are often caused by highly pigmented foods and drinks such as chocolate, coffee and tea. These stains may be superficial, but they cannot simply be brushed away and do require intervention to brighten teeth. Smoking or chewing tobacco can also cause teeth to yellow. Extrinsic stains tend to be easier to remove than intrinsic stains and respond well to treatment from a cosmetic dentist.
Intrinsic stains affect the inner portion of the tooth called the dentin. Certain antibiotics are known to cause stains on the dentin when given to children younger than eight because their teeth are still developing. Aging also causes intrinsic stains when the enamel thins and allows the yellowish color of the dentin to show. Excessive fluoride from mouthwashes, supplements, or toothpaste can discolor teeth. Teeth that have been traumatized by an injury may turn gray if there was bleeding inside the tooth.
The in-office professional whitening offers fast results and usually requires only one appointment. A professional whitening does not damage the teeth, and the dentist can ensure that gums do not become irritated.
Patients with healthy teeth and gums are the best candidates for professional teeth whitening. Whiteners work best on teeth that have yellowed. Teeth that have a brownish discoloration do not bleach as well. Individuals with tooth-colored fillings or crowns may not benefit from whitening because the treatment does not effectively improve their color.
The dentist will begin by placing rubber shields over the teeth to protect the gums. Next, a gel containing strong bleaching agents is applied to the teeth. The whitening gels that a cosmetic dentist uses typically have a buffer that helps protect the enamel from damage. A laser or curing light is used to activate the gel. Once the desired shade is reached, the dentist rinses off the gel.
Dentists recommend that patients use care with their diet and smoking habits after whitening. During the first 24 hours post-treatment, individuals should stay away from anything that could restain the teeth:
- Avoid colored mouthwash and toothpaste
- Avoid smoking cigarettes
- Avoid dark foods like red meat, chocolate, berries, tomato sauce and soy sauce
- Avoid any dark drinks such as red wine, colored fruit juices, coffee and tea
Almost everyone experiences some tooth staining or discoloration at some point. An annual teeth whitening appointment with a cosmetic dentist can boost confidence and help maintain a beautiful, bright smile.
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