If you’re looking for a whiter smile, your dentist may recommend teeth whitening. This treatment can help brighten your smile, but it requires some preparation first.
Continue reading to learn more about teeth whitening, including how you can prepare for your treatment.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
The natural colour of someone’s teeth naturally falls within a range of light greyish to yellow shades. However, this natural shade can darken with time due to several factors, including age, tobacco use, or even the foods and drinks you consume. Your teeth can look more yellow or darker due to staining, whether from red wine, tea, coffee, or tobacco.
This is where teeth whitening comes into play. Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure used to brighten your smile, making your teeth appear whiter. While teeth aren’t meant to look completely white, many people desire this look to improve their confidence or reduce staining from external factors (like food or drinks).
Many teeth whitening options exist today, from in-office to at-home treatments. The general concept is the same for all of these treatments: peroxide-based bleaching agents help brighten your smile.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening is a simple process. Your chosen product contains a specific bleaching agent: hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide for whitening the teeth.
You or your dentist apply the agent to your teeth, and the bleach breaks down stains into smaller pieces, making the colour less concentrated. Breaking down the stains on your teeth helps make your teeth appear brighter.
The effectiveness of your teeth whitening depends on whether you choose in-office or at-home treatment.
At Home or In-Office Teeth Whitening?
You have 2 choices for whitening your teeth: at home or in-office treatments. While it can seem tempting to go for a cheaper option and try whitening your teeth alone, it may not be worth it.
The main difference between in-office and at-home teeth whitening is that in-office treatments are significantly more powerful. The bleaching agents used are stronger because a professional is handling the procedure. The strength of at-home products depends on which option you choose.
Some at-home teeth whitening treatments include:
- Tooth whitening strips & gels: You apply these to your teeth with a brush or thin strip once or twice a day for 10 to 14 days.
- Tray-based tooth bleaching systems: You wear a mouthguard-like tray filled with a bleaching agent for one or more hours a day for up to 4 weeks.
- Whitening toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste contains polishing agents to help scrub stains from your teeth, brightening your smile by up to one shade.
Zoom! Teeth Whitening
A popular in-office teeth whitening treatment is the Zoom system, designed to brighten your smile by up to 8 shades in a single visit. It’s a light-accelerated whitening treatment where your dentist applies a whitening gel to your exposed teeth. They then use the Zoom light, which works with the whitening gel to break apart stains and discolouration on the teeth, brightening your smile.
How to Prepare for Teeth Whitening
Preparing for teeth whitening begins with a discussion with your dentist. They can help determine if this treatment is ideal for your needs and discuss the benefits and risks of the procedure.
When preparing for in-office teeth whitening, your dentist will recommend some things to avoid before your appointment, such as:
- Not brushing your teeth: It can seem obvious but don’t skip brushing your teeth just because you’re visiting the dentist.
- Skipping a meal before treatment: Make sure you eat a meal before your appointment (just avoid anything that might stain your teeth).
It can be wise to book a dental cleaning if you haven’t had one in a while before your appointment. A dental cleaning helps remove bacteria, plaque, and other debris from your teeth, helping make your whitening procedure more effective.
Maintaining Your Newly Brightened Smile
The whitening process is simple—you sit and let your dentist complete the procedure. Your real challenge begins after your teeth whitening is complete. Your brighter smile isn’t permanent, and stains can reappear if you don’t care for your teeth.
You can help maintain your whiter smile with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals. Besides practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding specific foods and drinks can help avoid staining your teeth.
Consider avoiding the following foods and beverages:
- Berries & other strongly coloured foods
- Black teas & coffee
- Carbonated drinks
- Sauces, such as soy sauce, tomato sauce, or curries
- Sports drinks
Speak with Your Dentist
Teeth whitening can help brighten your smile but speak with your dentist first to ensure it’s right for your needs. They can explain how the in-office procedure works, including the risk, benefits, and what to expect during your appointment. If you’re still hoping for a whiter smile, your dentist can help you brighten your teeth in as little as one appointment.
Contact your dentist if you’re interested in teeth whitening.