Teeth Whitening

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We all think about wrinkles and lines and other signs of aging, but most people don’t consider changes in the color of their teeth as a natural side effect of getting older. However, discoloration often occurs in the outer tooth enamel over the years due to various factors. Teeth whitening by a cosmetic dentist can restore the natural luster of your teeth, taking years off your appearance.





What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

Many factors can contribute to tooth discoloration as you age, including:

•Food and beverage staining

•Smoking

•Wear and tear to the enamel

•Small cracks and chips

•Injury to the tooth

Any of these, or any combination, can cause your teeth to look yellowed or brown, losing their natural white color. If your teeth are discolored, it can make you feel self-conscious about smiling or talking, and can severely diminish your quality of life.

Teeth Whitening Methods

Fortunately, there are many ways to whiten teeth after they’ve been stained by time or exposure to staining agents. Some popular methods include laser teeth whitening and in-office tooth bleaching.

Tooth bleaching is a more traditional approach to teeth whitening. This procedure can be done in the dentist’s office, or if stains are particularly stubborn, you can use a take-home kit for a longer exposure to the whitening agent.

In the office, gums and lips are protected with appliances or a protective sealant, then the whitening agent, usually a gel, is applied directly to the teeth. After the whitening agent has been allowed to work for a period of time, usually about twenty minutes, it is removed and the process is repeated. Many in-office tooth whitening systems can lighten the teeth five to seven shades in an hour-long treatment.

Laser teeth whitening is a newer approach to teeth whitening. Even more sensitive teeth can be whitened using this method, as it is non-invasive and also helps mineralize the surface of the teeth, reducing sensitivity.

A popular laser teeth whitening system is the Zoom! system. Gums are protected with a sealant, then the dentist applies the whitening agent to the surface of the teeth. A special laser then is directed at the teeth, activating the whitening agent. This system can lighten the teeth up to ten shades in a single application.

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