Teeth whitening is a very popular type of cosmetic dentistry where there are several types of treatments to whiten teeth in a way best for your dental needs. You’ve likely seen many at-home teeth whitening products, but in this article, we’ll focus more on the types of in-office teeth whitening that your dentist can perform for you. 


Why Whiten?

Before we discuss your whitening options, why would your teeth need to be whitened in the first place? Each tooth has a protective layer called enamel and it’s designed to stop the harmful effects of acid, sugar, chewing, and gnashing, but it’s worn down with time. As it wears down, it becomes more transparent which allows the natural core material of the tooth to show, and that color is yellow. Beyond the tooth’s core color showing, cracks in the enamel allow for stains and debris to set in which robs your teeth of their bright white. 

Generally, there are two categories of tooth staining that create tooth discoloration:

Intrinsic teeth stains: These tooth stains are on the inside of the teeth, caused by aging, trauma to the tooth, minerals like tetracycline, or excessive fluoride. 

Extrinsic teeth stains: These are the stains that are on the surface of the tooth and come from dark-color beverages, foods, smoking, and the everyday wear and tear. Usually, these types of teeth stains can be removed with brushing and dental cleaning as they are more superficial.

Specific causes of tooth discoloration and the need for dental whitening include:

  • Age, teeth darken as a result of wear and tear, as well as stain accumulation
  • Translucency and thinness, a genetic trait that causes the teeth to have less pigment. 
  • Smoking and eating, many foods can cause staining over the years like red wine, coffee, soda, carrots, oranges, and acidic foods can cause enamel erosion. If a smoker, nicotine leaves brownish deposits that slowly soak into the tooth and cause intrinsic discoloration. 
  • Grinding, can cause micro-cracks and the edges of a tooth to darken
  • Tooth trauma, injuries to the tooth can create large cracks where stains and debris can collect in them.


Tooth Whitening vs. Teeth Bleaching

When people consider having teeth whitening done, they are surprised to learn that there is a difference between bleaching teeth and whitening them. Bleaching means that the teeth are whitened beyond their natural color and applies only to products that contain bleach in the whitening treatment, such as hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. The two chemicals work in different timetables, for example, hydrogen peroxide is often used in a dental office because it’s fast-acting and powerful. You’ll likely find carbamide peroxide with at-home teeth whitening products or a teeth whitening kit because it’s slower-acting. 

Whitening refers to any treatment that restores the tooth’s surface color by removing the dirt and debris from the tooth. By that definition, run-of-the-mill toothpaste could be considered teeth whiteners. While it’s true that both bleaching and whitening are used interchangeably, it’s good information to know when discussing options with your dentist to ensure you’re getting what you want. 


Teeth Whitening Treatment Options

While there are three major options for teeth whitening, we’ll forgo discussing the over-the-counter teeth whiteners and discuss the two options you have at a dental office:

In-office Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening provided by your dentist at their office is the fastest way to whiten your teeth. The dentist will first place a rubber dam that is painted on the gums to protect them and then use a high-concentration peroxide gel that is applied to the teeth. The gel sits on the teeth in 15 to 20-minute intervals that altogether add up to an hour. While this usually takes care of all the stains affecting your smile, sometimes a follow-up treatment will be given if there is a stubborn stain or two.

Professional Home Teeth Whitening

There are professional teeth whitening products only available through your dentist that you’re able to take home. The home whitening kit uses a lower concentration peroxide gel that can be left to sit for an hour or longer, including overnight using custom-made bleaching trays, like a mouth guard. 

No matter which type of teeth whitening you and your dentist agree is best, whitening your teeth can boost your self-esteem and recapture that bright smile. 

If you’re interested in having your teeth whitened, we have numerous payment options available and if you have dental benefits, we will submit your claims on your behalf. We also welcome cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make the dentist visit as pain-free as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 780-705-9866 or contact us here.

Yuping Li
Yuping Li