Family dentist in Calgary, AB explains how teeth whitening works
Your smile says a lot about you, and having bright, pearly white teeth can set you apart in a crowd. Professional tooth whitening is one of the simplest cosmetic dental procedures that can have a huge impact on the appearance of your smile. At Lake Chaparral Dental Care in Calgary, AB, Dr. Palka Sawhney Sharma provides safe and effective tooth whitening treatments that can be done at your convenience in the comfort of your home. Here, she explains how tooth whitening works and how you can maintain your beautiful smile.
How tooth whitening works
To understand how tooth whitening removes the stains and discolorations from your teeth, it’s helpful to know about the structure of your teeth. The outermost layer of your tooth is called enamel, and it is covered with tiny channels that reach through the enamel to the dentin material beneath the enamel. When people enjoy deeply pigmented foods, such as coffee, tea, red wine, tomato sauce, or smoke or chew tobacco, the pigments become trapped in the tubules, leading to a yellowed or discolored appearance. This is why brushing alone cannot remove the stains once they have developed. In addition, other factors such as getting older in age, taking certain medications, and having certain medical conditions can also contribute to yellowed teeth.
When you have your teeth professionally whitened, a chemical bleaching agent – typically hydrogen peroxide – is applied to the teeth, where it then penetrates the tubules to gently lift and release the staining particles. With professional tooth whitening, patients are able to achieve amazing results, with their teeth becoming up to 10 to 15 shades whiter!
It is important to note that tooth restorations, such as tooth-colored fillings, bridges, crowns, and veneers do not respond to this type of bleaching. If your restorations have become significantly discolored, it may be advisable to have them replaced before whitening your teeth, so they don’t stand out.
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The tooth whitening process
At Lake Chaparral Dental Care, Dr. Palka Sawhney Sharma will first take impressions of your teeth to create custom-fitted whitening trays for your mouth that will hold the bleaching gel. Having custom-made trays that are designed to fit your unique mouth has many benefits:
- They are much more comfortable than generic over-the-counter trays
- The possibility of gel leaking out onto your gums and soft tissues is reduced, which is important because the gel can cause damage to these sensitive tissues
- You can re-use your trays for maintenance whitening treatment later
Then, you will be provided with the professional-strength whitening agent and instructions on how often to use the gel. If your teeth are particularly sensitive, a more gradual whitening approach may be best for you. Dr. Sawhney Sharma will discuss your options with you if sensitivity is an issue—in addition to using the trays for shorter periods each day, a lower-strength peroxide agent may be a good choice.
Maintaining your bright smile
After you have achieved the results you are seeking, you can take the following steps to maintain your beautiful, bright smile!
- Limit or eliminate your consumption of dark-colored foods and beverages, such as sodas, teas, wine, and berries
- When you do consume deeply pigmented beverages, use a straw to minimize the amount of contact they have with your teeth
- Rinse your mouth out with water after consuming pigmented foods and beverages
- Snack on crunchy fruits and vegetables such as carrots and apples that can help scrub your teeth and prevent stains from forming
- Avoid cigarettes and other tobacco products
- Brush your teeth with a whitening toothpaste at least twice per day
- When you brush, make sure you are thorough – consider using an electric toothbrush to ensure that you are removing as much plaque and surface staining as possible
- Talk with the dentist about how frequently you should do maintenance whitening treatments at home
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Tooth whitening can be a great option for most patients who want a simple way to improve the appearance of their smile. When your teeth are pearly white, your whole appearance changes and you look healthy and happy every time you flash your smile.Back to Teeth Whitening Page