Let’s face it, for many of us, our pearly whites have become more of a faint yellow. Age, our eating and drinking habits, and tobacco usage can lead to tooth discoloration. Even among those who take very special care of their teeth, it’s impossible to keep that white color we all had when we were kids.
Many people are therefore interested in whitening their teeth, hoping to revitalize their smile. They also have a lot of questions about teeth whitening, such as:
- Is teeth whitening safe?
- Is teeth whitening bad for you?
- Is teeth whitening covered by insurance?
- Is teeth whitening permanent?
If you have been wondering the same thing, you’ve come to the right place. We frequently get these questions from our dental patients in Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, and other parts of Maricopa County. Read on to find out everything you ever wanted to know about teeth whitening.
Why Whiten Your Teeth?
Teeth whitening used to be the domain of movie stars and rock gods, but not anymore. Advances in technology have made teeth whitening available to the masses, and for less money than you may expect.
There are many reasons to whiten your teeth. A few might include:
- Wanting a brighter smile: White teeth can make a huge difference in your appearance.
- Eliminating embarrassing spots: Aging teeth can make you self-conscious about your smile.
- Wanting to change your look: Whitening your teeth is much cheaper than other cosmetic procedures, such as a facelift or Botox.
- Creating a more uniform look: Some people get stains only on the tops or bottoms of their teeth and want them all to be the same shade.
Is teeth whitening worth it? Reasons for teeth whitening are all tied to vanity, in one way or another, but that does not mean it’s not a worthy procedure. You can feel better about your appearance when you whiten your teeth, which will improve your own self-worth. That may give you the confidence to stand up for yourself, ask for a raise, or demand better treatment for your kids.
Whatever your reason for wanting your teeth whitened, it’s a valid desire. Teeth whitening can be a safe and relatively inexpensive way to improve your outlook on life. Teeth whitening has gotten some bad press because of restrictions, such as not doing it when you are pregnant or nursing. Those are more precautions than actual dangers. When a dentist is asked “is teeth whitening bad?” they will answer it is not. Every dental procedure has side effects, but is teeth whitening bad for your teeth? No.
Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?
Your tooth enamel forms when you are a developing fetus. This enamel is what gives your teeth their white color when you are born, including both your baby and adult teeth. Of course, your teeth aren’t 100 percent white, but they do have a brighter sheen to them when you are young. That is because you have not yet been exposed to all the things that can dull your enamel’s shine.
As you get older, your enamel begins to wear away. This wear reveals the darker tissue that surrounds the nerves and blood vessels in your teeth. There is no way to repair this natural erosion, and so your teeth begin to take on more of a dull gray color.
At the same time, teeth can also stain.
While people often become self-conscious about yellowing teeth, leading them to wonder is teeth whitening worth it, yellowed teeth usually are not a sign of bad hygiene. Genetics play into how much your enamel gets worn down, and it’s hardly realistic to expect people to stop consuming hot caffeinated beverages.
Different Ways to Whiten Teeth
It is up to you to figure out is teeth whitening worth it for you. To assist, here is a rundown on the different types of teeth whitening methods that can be used. Two are overseen by dentists. One can be done without the supervision of a professional, which may be why many people wonder is teeth whitening safe.
Whitening at the Dentist’s Office
We can help whiten your teeth. A 40% hydrogen peroxide power bleaching gel offers brighter, whiter teeth in less than one hour in the dental chair. It is chemically activated, so it starts working as soon as it is placed on your teeth. And it doesn’t require a hot, uncomfortable light for efficacy.
It is administered in a safe, dentist-supervised procedure. First your gums are protected with a rubber dam that is painted on to ensure that teeth whitener does not damage the gum line. Then the dentist or hygienist applies the gel to the teeth for an hour. One to two shades of bleaching is typical. We recommend this to our patients who want to jump-start their bleaching process. In order to get lasting results, though, this needs to be followed by at-home bleaching with custom trays which are included in the cost.
Professionally Supplied Whitening Kits
You can get professionally produced whitening kits that you can administer to yourself. This take-home whitening gel offers sustained whitening power in the comfort of your own home. The whitening gel comes in syringes and is delivered via custom trays made in our office. It is placed into the custom bleaching trays that are then inserted into the mouth. This gel is only dispensed by a dentist and comes in formulations of 35% and 10% carbamide peroxide with wear times from 30 minutes to overnight.
This method of teeth whitening is safe as long as you follow the directions and don’t keep the trays in longer than is recommended. The results are excellent.
This can be convenient because you do not have to schedule time to go to the dentist, but it can also be cumbersome because walking around your house with bleaching trays in your mouth is distracting and uncomfortable.
There is also an on-the-go whitening kit with an enhanced tray design for an adaptable whitening experience. The unique tray material (not custom-made) easily conforms to your individual smile. Its molar-to-molar coverage insures the gel comes in contact with more posterior teeth. It is available in Mint, Melon and Peach flavors. This on-the-go kit is only dispensed by dentists like AZ Family Dental.
Over-the-Counter Teeth Whiteners
By far the cheapest option, these products are sold at grocery and drug stores. They usually consist of strips or paint-on applicators. The gel is much less potent that what your dentist would employ.