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Cosmetic Dentistry Series: Teeth Whitening

In an effort to remove stains and discoloration, many people choose teeth whitening as the go-to cosmetic dental procedure to help them revive their smiles. Contrary to popular belief, teeth whitening isn’t a one-time procedure. In order to effectively keep your teeth white, you must repeat this process from time to time.

What Do People Use Teeth Whitening For?

The tooth’s outer layer is known as the enamel. Your natural teeth’s color is created by the reflection of light off the enamel and the color and the dentin underneath it. Thinner enamel lets more dentin show, while the smoothness or the roughness of it also impacts the reflection of light and how the color of your teeth appear.

While your enamel thins and your dentin darkens as you age, tobacco, coffee and poor dental hygiene are the biggest causes of yellowing teeth. Teeth whitening is a great way to reverse those cups of coffee and cigarettes – at least for your teeth.

What Should You Expect During the Teeth Whitening Process?

Before whitening your teeth, you need to have all other problematic areas in your mouth fixed – cavities, receded gums, etc. Otherwise, whitening can cause your teeth to become too sensitive and result in even greater problems in the future.

You can either whiten your teeth at the dental office or at home. The most common way of whitening your teeth is known as ‘vital tooth whitening,’ which is performed on teeth with live nerves. In this case, you or your dentist will apply a whitening gel – it contains a form of hydrogen peroxide – directly onto your tooth’s surface.

‘Non-vital whitening’ is done on teeth that no longer have a live nerve.