What is Dental Whitening?

K T Solis

Dental whitening is the process of bleaching the teeth so they are whiter in appearance. People who desire to have whiter teeth can achieve this effect through a variety of methods. Some choose to visit a dentist to have their teeth whitened. Other people purchase a teeth-whitening product from a store to whiten their teeth at home. Finally, a third group of people choose to use teeth-whitening toothpaste on a daily basis to gradually achieve a brighter smile.

People sometimes bleach their teeth in an effort to obtain a brighter smile.
People sometimes bleach their teeth in an effort to obtain a brighter smile.

Before deciding on bleaching the teeth, it's important to consult with a dentist about possible ways to improve the teeth's appearance. Not all patients are candidates for every type of dental whitening procedure. For example, people with gray teeth may not enjoy successful results with dental whitening since teeth of this shade do not respond well to bleaching.

Some mouth guards can be filled with whitening gel.
Some mouth guards can be filled with whitening gel.

Those who have tooth-colored fillings or bonded teeth will not receive good results from dental whitening as well. This is because the bleach does not affect these types of materials, and teeth made from these materials will not blend with the successfully bleached teeth. In contrast, people with yellow-toned teeth experience better results with dental whitening.

Teeth whitening toothpaste is one product that can be used at home for dental whitening.
Teeth whitening toothpaste is one product that can be used at home for dental whitening.

If a dentist decides that a patient is a good candidate for dental whitening, he or she can conduct the procedure in the dentist office. This procedure, called chairside bleaching, lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. Dental whitening performed by a dentist may require more than one office visit. During this process, the dentist applies a gel or rubber shield to protect the patient's gums. The dentist then applies a special bleaching product to the teeth, using a light or laser to increase the effectiveness of the dental whitener.

People can achieve whiter teeth through a variety of methods.
People can achieve whiter teeth through a variety of methods.

People who wish to whiten their teeth at home can purchase a dental whitening product from the dentist or a store. Teeth-whitening products contain peroxide, an ingredient that bleaches the enamel of the teeth. The product is usually in the form of a gel and is placed inside a mouth guard.

Other over-the-counter dental products consist of thin strips that are coated in a peroxide gel. Still other dental-bleaching products consist of a peroxide gel that includes a small brush. The gel is brushed directly onto the teeth in order to whiten the enamel. Some teeth-bleaching products are designed for overnight use while others are used about one or two times a week.

Some patients wish to use a special toothpaste that promises to brighten a smile. Most stores offer a variety of toothpastes that are designed to remove stains from tooth enamel. Such toothpastes use extra abrasive ingredients to polish the teeth until they gradually appear whiter in appearance. No matter which type of teeth-whitening product a consumer chooses, he or she should make sure that the product contains the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

Dental whitening can help make someone feel more confident about their teeth.
Dental whitening can help make someone feel more confident about their teeth.

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