Teeth Whitening: A Guide to a Brighter Smile

Do your teeth look dingy when you look in the mirror and smile? They may be yellow or gray or have stains. If you don't feel confident about your teeth, you may smile less and less in public. 

Fortunately, you don't have to live with dingy, yellow or otherwise stained teeth. Teeth bleaching can give you a brighter, natural-looking smile quickly. You have a few options if you're interested in whitening your teeth. Some treatments are more effective than others at delivering the results you want. 

Why Do Teeth Become Discolored?

Although we often associate a healthy smile with perfectly white teeth, the truth is that there's a spectrum of tooth colors. Some people have teeth that are ivory or slightly off-white, while others do have vibrantly white teeth naturally. As you get older, it's natural for teeth to become darker or less vibrant. Some lifestyle and dietary choices also affect the color of your teeth.

Dark and starchy foods can cause discoloration as acidic or dark beverages like coffee, soda and red wine. Smoking or using tobacco products can also stain your teeth, making them yellow or brown. 

Teeth stains come in two forms. Extrinsic stains develop the tooth's surface and are usually caused by food, smoking and poor dental hygiene. Intrinsic stains discolor the tooth from within. They can be caused by certain types of antibiotics, trauma to the teeth or severe decay.

As you age, the teeth enamel becomes thinner, allowing the yellowish dentin beneath to show through. 

What Are Your Teeth Whitening Options?

You have two main options for teeth bleaching: trying an at-home, over-the-counter product or seeing your dentist for professional teeth whitening treatment. At-home treatments cost less than in-office options but usually produce less dramatic results. 

At-Home Teeth Whitening

Many products are available for lightening your teeth at home. The products are typically peroxide based and contain a much lower concentration than a dental professional would use. Your at-home whitening options include:

  • Using a whitening toothpaste
  • Using a whitening gel, which you paint on the teeth
  • Using whitening dental strips

Depending on the product you use, you may not notice a huge difference in the color of your teeth. For example, whitening toothpaste can remove surface stains but usually doesn't lighten teeth particularly well and won't remove intrinsic stains.

Professional Teeth Whitening

In-office treatments to whiten the teeth are typically much more effective and longer lasting. One reason is the higher concentration of peroxide used in the teeth whitening product. Since a dental professional applies the product and monitors you throughout the treatment, using a much stronger form of hydrogen peroxide is safe.

An in-office treatment may also get a boost from laser teeth whitening. The dentist uses laser light to cure the gel onto your teeth during laser teeth whitening treatment. Thanks to the laser, the gel can work more effectively. 

Why Whiten Your Teeth?

Teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic dental treatment. But its benefits go beyond improving the appearance of your smile. Whitening your teeth can help you improve your oral health. You took the time to lighten your teeth, so you may be more likely to pay attention to your oral hygiene and brush twice daily and floss daily. 

You may also feel more confident after teeth whitening, which can trickle down into other areas of your life. With renewed confidence, you may feel ready to change jobs, go on a date or take the next step in your life. 

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

The cost of teeth whitening depends on the type of treatment you choose. At-home treatments are usually much less expensive than in-office options. For example, you can often pick up a box of whitening strips for $20. 

The trade-off is that the results from an over-the-counter at-home treatment won't last as long or be as noticeable as those from an in-office treatment. You may pay $20 for a box of white strips, but you'll need to buy several boxes to maintain your results.

The cost of an in-office teeth whitening treatment starts at around $500. That might seem like a lot, but many people find that the benefits it provides make the price tag worth it.

How Can You Protect Your Teeth Afterward? 

Once you get your teeth whitened, you want to do what you can to protect them and keep stains from returning. Brushing twice daily will remove plaque before it can harden into tartar. It's also important to see your dentist for professional teeth cleanings and checkups to ensure your teeth stay healthy, bright and white.

If you want to improve your smile and feel confident about your teeth, contact Grove City Smiles today to learn more about our teeth whitening options.

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