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Understanding the Benefits and Process of Teeth Whitening

We are proud to be your top choice for a dentist in Alpharetta when it comes to a broad range of treatments and solutions, including important cosmetic dentistry options like teeth whitening. However, many of our patients in Alpharetta have questions about the tooth whitening process, how it works, and why they should choose a cosmetic dentist to help. In this guide, we will walk you through what teeth whitening is, how it works, and a great deal more. In the end, we think you will agree that it is a highly beneficial process.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that can transform your smile, removing years of discoloration and staining from your teeth and leaving you with a bright, white smile that you can be proud to show off. It is a completely non-invasive procedure, and it requires no sedation, no drilling, and really no traditional dental tools of any kind. You will not even need to go through a cleaning beforehand if you have been rigorous about making your regular checkups unless there is plaque buildup that needs to be removed.

Essentially, teeth whitening is a procedure that removes years of staining from your teeth, and is capable of not just restoring your smile, but of rebuilding your self-confidence. Our smiles are crucial ways of expressing ourselves, and when you are forced not to smile because of embarrassment about the color of your teeth, it can reduce your quality of life. We can help. Our industry-leading tooth whitening technology is capable of removing even stubborn stains and discoloration from your teeth, leaving your mouth healthy and beautiful.

Why Is Teeth Whitening Needed?

Strictly speaking, tooth whitening is a cosmetic treatment, so it is not technically necessary. It does not improve your oral health, nor does it repair the damage. However, the benefits here are of a different variety. They are primarily centered around the way you see yourself, and how confident you feel interacting with other people.

Over time, your teeth become discolored naturally. This requires nothing other than simply eating and drinking normally. Even if you never took a sip of coffee, your teeth would not be bright white simply because of their natural off-white color, combined with surface stains from food and drink.

Many types of food and drink will stain your teeth to a significant degree, as well. For instance, both coffee and tea, while popular beverages, do your smile no favors. Red wine also stains your teeth. This does not even touch on the effects of food.

As these stains build up over time, your teeth change from natural off-white to a slightly dingier color. Eventually, they begin to yellow and look unhealthy. In severe cases, your teeth may even appear brown or gray from a distance. This is particularly true if you are a heavy coffee drinker, or if you smoke. These stains cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. Even over the counter whitening toothpaste cannot really do much to alleviate them. The only option is professional treatment from a tooth whitening specialist.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Teeth Whitening?

Not sure who makes a good candidate for tooth whitening? Actually, this cosmetic dentistry procedure is a good option for most people, but there are some for whom it is better suited, as well as some who may need to put off whitening for the moment.

You are a good candidate for whitening if:

  • Your teeth are in good condition
  • Your gums are healthy
  • You have kept up with your regular cleanings
  • You have realistic expectations about the whitening process
  • You are prepared to avoid foods and beverages that could re-stain your teeth
  • You have few (or no) fillings

You should also know more about the various types of whitening out there. Bleaching is the most common type of teeth whitening, but it is generally best suited for patients with yellowed teeth or teeth with yellow undertones. Patients with brown or gray teeth may find that bleaching does not quite get the job done for them. However, there are other options that can help you if your teeth are gray or brown, rather than yellow.

If your teeth are mottled as a side effect of too much fluoride exposure, bleaching may not be the right technique for you, either, as it can result in uneven whitening that is more noticeable than your current condition. We recommend speaking with a tooth whitening specialist about your specific condition prior to making any decision. We are happy to discuss your specific needs at any time.

You are not a good candidate for teeth whitening if:

  • You have chronically sensitive teeth
  • You have oral cancer
  • You have periodontal disease
  • Your teeth are excessively worn
  • You have damaged enamel
  • Your teeth appear translucent (see-through)
  • You are pregnant
  • You are under the age of 16 (Note that teeth whitening is not recommended for children of any age)

If you fall into any of the above categories but feel that you might still be a good candidate for whitening, we would be happy to discuss your options and explain your potential choices.

How Does the Teeth Whitening Process Work?

There are several different professional teeth whitening systems on the market currently. Our office uses the Zoom! system, which utilizes professional-grade bleach and trays that fit your mouth. The process is relatively simple.

First, you’ll speak with your dentist about your goals and expectations for the whitening process. Once your dentist has outlined how the process works and answered any questions you might have, you’ll be fitted with a tray – a tray that fits your mouth perfectly will be chosen to help ensure comfort during your in-office visit. We create the tray (and all take-home trays) based on an impression we take of your mouth while you are in the office. This ensures a completely custom fit and no discomfort at all.

Next, a powerful bleaching gel will be added to the tray, and you’ll hold the tray in your mouth for a specified amount of time. The exact duration will depend on several factors, including your personal level of staining, the desired amount of whitening, and any tooth or gum sensitivity you might have. However, the Zoom! system can usually take care of most stains in an hour or less.

When the waiting period is over, your dentist in Alpharetta will remove the tray and assess your teeth. You’ll also be given additional trays to take home so that you can continue the whitening process on your own. If at-home whitening is needed, you will only need to wear your tray for a couple of hours per day. Understand that wearing it for too long can cause tooth sensitivity. Note that at-home bleaching may or may not be necessary, as it depends on the amount of staining on your teeth and your goals in regard to whitening.

Aftercare Considerations with Teeth Whitening

After receiving teeth whitening from your dentist in Alpharetta, you’ll need to make sure to take care of your teeth. While they will be considerably whiter, that state is not permanent. In fact, your teeth will eventually need to be bleached again. The good news is that you are largely in control over how long it takes for staining to build up again.

There are several important considerations for aftercare once you’ve completed your tooth whitening. One is that if you experience any sensitivity, which is common, you should stop the whitening process until it passes.

Note that your teeth will be especially susceptible to staining for several days immediately following your visit to the dentist. You will need to take extreme care during the first 48 hours to avoid eating or drinking anything that might stain your teeth, including sodas. It is highly advised that you drink nothing but water during this period, and refrain from eating foods that might tarnish that bright, white smile.

Another important consideration is that you need to avoid consuming foods or beverages that might stain your newly-whitened teeth in the long run, as well. While your enamel will reseal within about 48 hours, you need to avoid stain-inducing foods and drinks to prolong the benefits of the whitening procedure. If you’re a coffee drinker, it’s time to quit.

Even tea should be consumed in moderation. Red wine should be taken off your menu. If you smoke, it’s important that you quit immediately, as you will quickly rebuild the stains that discolored your smile.

What Should You Know before Making an Appointment with a Dentist for Teeth Whitening?

While the teeth whitening process is relatively simple, there are a few things that you should know about before making an appointment for this cosmetic dentistry procedure.

Your Teeth Will Not Be Permanently White

This has been mentioned before but it bears repeating. Tooth whitening is not permanent. Daily living will eventually discolor them once more, and you will need to return for another treatment. However, your actions largely determine how long it is between whitening appointments.

Your Teeth Will Be Sensitive

No matter how sensitive your teeth are beforehand, there is a very good chance that they will be sensitive after the treatment. This should pass in a short time, usually no longer than 48 hours. If the sensitivity is severe, speak with your dentist in Alpharetta. You can also take over the counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to help.

Keep the Gel Off Your Gums

You will likely be sent home with trays and gel to continue the whitening process on your own. Make sure that you do not get the whitening gel on soft tissues, like your gums, or the inside of your cheeks or lips. It can cause irritation and even nausea.

Ongoing Sensitivity

If you experience ongoing sensitivity after completing your teeth whitening procedure, it might be related to other whitening efforts you are taking. Stop using the whitening/bleaching toothpaste for several weeks, for instance. Giving your teeth a break will alleviate the discomfort you feel and give them time to heal.

It’s also important to note that if you do not intend to stop consuming beverages or foods that stain your teeth, your results will not be as expected. This is particularly true for tobacco users. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, our advice is to quit before going through the teeth whitening process.

You can also prolong the results you experience from teeth whitening by avoiding tomato-based sauces or chewing hard candies. Many berries can also stain teeth and cause premature darkening, so pay close attention to what you eat and drink. We recommend using a straw if you will be drinking anything other than water, as this can help prevent contact between the liquid and your teeth.

Contact Our Alpharetta Dentist Office to Schedule Teeth Whitening

If you are ready to schedule your teeth whitening procedure, we look forward to hearing from you. Give us a call at Old Milton Dental in Alpharetta at 678-624-0307 to schedule your appointment, or use our online contact form to get in touch with us.