Teeth Whitening

A Guide to Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments in America. With over 90% of Americans requesting tooth whitening during a visit according to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s clear that the vast majority of people want a brighter smile.

So, what is the big deal with teeth whitening? Do the treatments work? Is it worth the expense? What exactly goes into getting a brighter smiler?

We’ll take a look at those questions and even more as we explore what goes into getting a brighter, better smile. We’ll look at both professional teeth whitening and at at-home treatments to see what could fit your budget and desired level of effectiveness.

Why Are My Teeth Yellow Even Though I Brush?

Yellow teeth are not a sign of bad oral health but can be caused by a variety of factors. These can include:

  • Eating foods and drinks that have staining properties. These include coffee, tea, and red wine. They all have pigments in them that can attach to the enamel, the outer white layer of the tooth.
  • Tobacco use can impact your oral health far beyond yellowing the teeth. The tar and the nicotine are the culprits, with each sticking to and staining the teeth. Nicotine turns yellow and stains when exposed to oxygen. 
  • Trauma to the tooth can cause discoloration. This is because the tooth is reacting to the injury, reinforcing itself by laying down more dentin, the opaque dark layer beneath the translucent enamel.
  • Certain medications can discolor the teeth. This can be a side effect of some antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medications. Some other medications can also discolor the teeth, including antibiotics and chemotherapy.
  • Age is the biggest and most common reason why teeth discolor. The outer layer of the teeth will naturally become thinner as we age, revealing more of the darker, and more yellow, the dentin layer of the teeth.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening can be described as any process in which the teeth are made to be lighter. This can be done by changing the outermost layer of the tooth: the enamel. The most common way to do that is with a bleach, hydrogen peroxide, which is either delivered as hydrogen peroxide or as carbamide peroxide.

The hydrogen peroxide breaks down unstable free radicals in the enamel, which shrinks them into smaller, less heavily pigmented pieces. This causes them to reflect less light and creates a whitening effect. Pretty cool!

Dentists should be consulted so that they can correctly identify what type of whitening technique will be useful. They can identify the location, type, and intensity of the tooth discoloration. They can then determine how long to expose the tooth to the bleach, how concentrated it needs to be, and how many shades lighter you can get with the treatment.

They also have the best access to the tools and techniques that can quickly and powerfully remake your smile.

How Do Dentists Whiten Teeth?

You have a few options when it comes to whitening the teeth with an in-office treatment. These include:

  • Getting a custom-made mold of your teeth that is then used to create a custom tray that is filled with bleach. This technique is most often done at home for 2-4 weeks.
  • The dentist may also recommend laser whitening. A bleach is painted onto the teeth and then a powerful laser is shone onto the teeth, activating the bleaching agent. This treatment generally takes about an hour.
  • Chairside bleaching is where the dentist applies a protective gel on the gums and then applies bleach to the teeth. This is an easy one-stop dental visit. 

What Whitener is the Best for your Teeth?

IF you elect to try to whiten your teeth at home, you do have a few options. None of them are as powerful as an in-office treatment, so your mileage may vary. The market offers a lot of options that can potentially be the perfect fit in your budget. You will likely find a great budget solution for your smile, or level of sensitivity.

You can choose from:

  • Tooth whitening strips prove to be the most versatile and common option. These handly little strips are bits of plastic that are loaded up with a bleaching agent. They stick easily to the teeth and some even come with a blue light device to help the bleaching agent set. This is similar to the tech used in a dentist’s office for laser treatment.  They are generally applied for an hour for a month or more.
  • Tooth whitening toothpaste is another great budget option. For only a few dollars you can get some extra whitening power in your toothpaste. These won’t brighten your smile too much, but a few extra shades or stain removal can make some difference. They often come with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Sensitive teeth can also benefit from natural tooth whitening strips. They come with a combination of natural ingredients, like salt, coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil. These are safe enough to be used on crowns, porcelain caps, and veneers.

Is Teeth Whitening Bad For The Teeth?

There are some side effects associated with teeth whitening. Your gums may be sensitive to the chemical used in the bleaching, and if you already have sensitive teeth that change may increase. 

You may also run the risk of bleaching the gums or improperly applying the bleaching agent if you do a take-home kit. They can even damage the enamel if not properly applied. 

Professional teeth whitening is the best option because your dentist can work with you to find an option that can mitigate the sensitivity of the whitener, and can direct you to a treatment plan to ensure that you are able to get the right shade of white that you are looking for. In short, professionals know what they are doing and you pay for what you get.

What Do I Avoid After Teeth Whitening?

You should avoid these foods after teeth whitening in order to keep your newly whitened smile:

  1. Acidic beverages. This includes soda, fruit juices, and alcohol. The acidic environment created by these drinks can stain your teeth again! 
  2. Dark liquids or liquids with a strong color. Avoid coffee, red wine, and tea. Dark sodas also should be avoided because of their color and acidity. Tomato juice should be avoided for the same reason.
  3. Sugar. Avoid foods like soda, baked goods, cakes, cookies, and candy. These can discolor your teeth by encouraging bacteria growth and cavities and tooth decay.
  4. Food with added colors or natural colors. Think soy sauce, ketchup, chocolate. Avoid these foods for at least a day or until your teeth are no longer sensitive. 
  5. Use the “white shirt test” to determine what to avoid. If it can stain your white shirt, it can stain your teeth.

Do Teeth Whiteners Work?

Yes, teeth whiteners do actually work. The strength of the change and how long they last depend on the treatment. People with yellow teeth benefit most from these treatments. People with teeth that are discolored brown or damaged teeth that are gray or purple may not benefit as much. Your dentist can recommend an alternative treatment if you desire.

Because it can be complicated to determine the cause of the tooth whitening, working with a dentist is the best bet. You can pinpoint what the cause is and get a customized treatment plan in order for you to get your best smile.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Your Teeth Whitened Professionally?

The average cost of professional teeth whitening costs an average of $650. This can climb to be as high as $1000 depending on the products that are used and the rates your dentist charges. For most patients, the cost is well worth it.

People report seeing a difference in as little as a single treatment. This is because the bleaching agents and tools that a dentist has at their disposal are an order of magnitude greater than the ones that are in an at-home kit. The kits often are no more than 10% hydrogen peroxide, while in-office treatments can be close to 25% to 40%.

You can either spend lots of money on kits for a gradual, mild increase or get a professional long-lasting treatment.


How Can I Whiten My Teeth In One Day?

A professional tooth whitening is the best way to go to get them whitened in one day. The treatment might take only an hour. However, you do have a few options that you can do to mildly brighten your smile. You can use things like:

  • Tooth whitening toothpaste
  • Activated charcoal
  • Oil Pull with Coconut Oil

To help shine the teeth up a bit.

How Can I Make My Yellow Teeth Whiter Naturally?

There are a lot of natural tooth whitening products you can choose from. Here are just some options:

  1. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, found in tooth whitening toothpaste
  2. Coconut oil for oil pulling
  3. Apple cider vinegar
  4. Lemon, orange, or banana peels
  5. Activated charcoal
  6. Eat foods with high water content to remove stains

Can You Whiten Your Teeth At Home?

The market is brimming with at-home tooth whitening kits these days. There are a lot of gels, toothpaste, and strips that can help you whiten your teeth. Some even include a light to help activate the bleaching agent.

Upland Dental Group & Implant Center in Upland, CA can do all the necessary dental work to determine the option that’s right for you. Upland Dental Group & Implant Center proudly serves the Upland area with a full range of Dental & Implant services.  Give us a call at (909) 985-1966 to schedule an appointment.