In 2018 alone, almost 40.5 million Americans spent their money purchasing teeth whitening agents. This data was collected in a survey conducted by the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Surveyors.
Teeth whitening is the most sought procedure when it comes to cosmetic dentistry. The treatment promises you healthy pearly whites and a confident smile. Understandably, stains and discolorations on one’s teeth can be extremely embarrassing. Furthermore, it also hampers a person’s self-confidence. And the easiest way to get rid of the peskiness is via teeth whitening.
When Would One Require Teeth Whitening?
The first thing you need to understand is that a certain degree of yellowness/discoloration is normal. The yellow tint a teeth gets is due to its structure. The outer hard white enamel is cushioned by a yellow, soft, and spongy material called dentin. The dentin imparts a tooth with a yellowish hue. The physiological structure of the tooth is responsible for the color it has. The more enamel composition, the whiter your teeth look.
However, if you feel like your teeth have started to look even more discolored than they did previously, you can walk over to our office at Minneapolis Dental and get a teeth whitening procedure done. But before diving into the different kinds of whitening options, let us point out the kinds of stains that affect the teeth.
Stains or discolorations affecting the teeth are of two types –
- Extrinsic: These are present on the surfaces of the teeth and are caused by habits like smoking, tobacco chewing, constant ingestion of tea or coffee, colored drinks, etc.
- Intrinsic: These affect the internal structure of the teeth and occur because of injury to the tooth, aging, and even some medications.
What Options For Teeth Whitening Exist?
An American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry put out a survey in 2015 which revealed that in the field of cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening was the most frequently requested procedure. There are various types of methods of teeth whitening you can opt for. The most basic classification depends on the place where you choose to get your teeth whitened –
- In-office or professional teeth whitening
- At-home teeth whitening
In-Office Teeth Whitening
These procedures are performed, as you would have guessed, in a dental office. Your dentist at Minneapolis Dental will start by thoroughly examining your oral cavity and taking a medical history. Before initiating the teeth whitening, the dentist will professionally clean your teeth to get rid of any plaque or calculus deposits. Next, they’ll use a cheek retractor to pull back the soft tissues of your mouth. A hardening resin is applied to the gums to prevent any burns or injuries. The whitening agent is then applied to the teeth for 15-30 minutes. The use of a UV light might be recommended to speed up the process. The whitening agent can be removed and reapplied as desired.
Your dentist will also take before and after pictures to show you the shade difference. Professional whitening gives almost immediate results. However, further future sessions might be recommended to achieve desired results.
Your dentist might also give you custom home treatment kits which you can use as per their directions.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
At-home teeth whitening options are the over-the-counter measures you can take. These include teeth whitening toothpaste, oral rinses, strips, etc. These aren’t as effective as professional whitening treatments, even though they are way more affordable.
Extrinsic stains are easier to tackle with in-office treatments. Intrinsic stains, however, take considerable time to fade and are treated by both in-office and custom take-home kits over some time. These procedures don’t have any adverse effects. But you might feel a little sensitivity right afterward. This subsides over time.
After you’ve undergone a whitening procedure, there are certain things you have to be extra careful about. While you can resume a normal healthy diet after 24-72 hours, you have to avoid foods that will cause re-staining or those that might irritate your sensitive teeth.
- Avoid drinking colored beverages such as tea, coffee, red wine, fruit juices, sodas, etc. The vibrant and artificial coloring will cause your teeth to re-stain. But if you feel like you can’t go about your day without your usual caffeine fix, opt for drinking them with a straw. Straws keep these beverages away from your teeth, avoiding possible re-staining.
- Similar to how you’ll avoid drinks that stain, you will have to avoid eating foods that stain or discolor your teeth. Acidic, greasy foods or smoky foods with a lot of colors can leave colored residue behind. Some examples of foods that you should avoid are dark-colored sauces, red meat, acidic fruits, spices like those in curries, pigmented berries, milk and dark chocolates, and candies with natural or artificial coloring, etc.
- Aside from being harmful to your oral and general health, tobacco products and habits like smoking cause your teeth to stain fast. The ideal recommendation is that you cut out these habits not just for cleaner teeth, but also to prevent any other harm that might come to your health because of them.
- Skip on any dental hygiene products that are also colored. Opt for white or light-colored toothpaste and oral rinses and also something effective for sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist about what options are best suited for you.
Consider taking up a “white diet” for a week or two after your teeth whitening. These will include foods that are colorless or white. Listed below are some foods and drinks you can go for –
- White rice
- Whitefish like tilapia, haddock, cod, etc.
- Meats such as chicken
- Uncolored pasta
- Plain yogurt
- Cereal that doesn’t have any artificial coloring
- Egg whites
- Nuts such as almonds, cashews, etc.
- Vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, etc.
- Fruits like bananas, pears, etc.
- Cheeses without artificial coloring
- Unflavored still or sparkling water
- Coconut water or milk
- Clear alcohols like white wine, or those with clear mixers like gin and tonic, club soda, etc.