How Does Teeth Whitening Work?


Teeth Whitening

If you think your smile has seen better days, your tooth color may be to blame. Few things will age you faster than a dingy grin. Fortunately, modern cosmetic dentistry methods do exist to rid you of those stains. For anyone considering teeth whitening in Las Vegas, this fast and affordable treatment by Dr. White will get the job done in a hurry.

What Will Tooth Whitening Do for Me?

In addition to removing discoloration and stains, the tooth whitening process can lighten your teeth by several shades. The degree to which this works, however, will vary according to your individual tooth structure. Natural teeth will never be white as snow, and the color of yours will vary in proportion to two factors: the quality of the enamel, and the darkness of the dentin underneath it.  Despite a person’s best efforts, teeth will normally darken as the years go by. The most frequent causative elements are:

  • Tobacco.
  • Coffee, tea, red wine or colas.
  • Inadequate dental care.

Aging is another common culprit. Enamel naturally thins as the years wear on, and as it does, it can't help but reveal the darkening dentin beneath it.

External stains tend to collect in microscopic pores in the enamel as well as on a thin coating called pellicle that continually builds up on the teeth. Internal stains, on the other hand, commonly result from trauma or childhood overexposure to fluoride. In addition, tetracycline antibiotics can often cause problems when taken by children younger than 8 or prior to birth when the mother has ingested it during the latter stages of pregnancy. These stains are harder to treat.

There are sometimes cases for which the whitening procedure will not work at all. Discolored roots exposed by gums that have receded will never whiten. The same is true of porcelain or ceramic crowns and veneers.

How Do I Prepare for Teeth Whitening?

Prior to any whitening treatment, it's important to resolve all existing dental problems. Cavities in particular if left unattended will allow the gel solution to reach and potentially damage the insides of your teeth. A thorough cleaning is also in order to remove any substances that have built up on your teeth.

Treatment begins with the application of a protective substance to shield your gums. Your vital or living teeth will then be coated with a gel that contains hydrogen peroxide in some form. The use of a laser or specialized light will activate this product and speed up the bleaching process.

For teeth that have undergone root canal, a different procedure is needed. Stains on non-living teeth are internal in origin, and targeting them directly will entail placing a whitening agent inside the tooth, covering it up with a temporary filling and leaving it in place for several days.

Each in-office session will last between 30 and 90 minutes. The number of visits involved will vary in accordance with the severity of your stains, the method used and the shade of white you desire. 

What About At-Home Whitening?

For badly discolored teeth, you may be asked to do a bit of homework for the next few days or weeks. If so, our office will take impressions and fit you with custom mouthpieces to help you with this task. You will fill these devices with a prescription-strength whitening gel and wear them for several hours each day until you have achieved the desired result.  It is also possible to bleach your teeth at home with over-the-counter gels, strips or toothpastes sold for the purpose. The whitening agents in these products are, however, considerably weaker than those found in the products that dentists use, and the process can easily take far longer with results that are less satisfactory.

Risks and Caveats

The whitening of your teeth is not likely to cause you any serious difficulties. The most common side effects of this popular cosmetic dentistry procedure consist of temporarily sensitive teeth or minor irritation of the gums, each of which should fade in a short time. If you are in search of effective teeth whitening in Las Vegas or the surrounding area, contact Dr. White today and learn how modern techniques can help you achieve the dazzling smile of your dreams.