Why do my teeth become stained?
Here are the reasons your teeth are stained:
- Food — Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, even dark chocolate all have natural pigments in them that stain your teeth.
- Drink — Coffee, tea, red wine, cranberry and other juices, even cola soft drinks can leave stains.
- Smoking — Nicotine leaves yellow stains on your teeth.
- Drugs — As mentioned above, tetracycline has stained the teeth of many kids. This antibiotic was used heavily in the 60s and 70s, and it caused the dentin in many patients to become gray.
- Genes — Some people simply have darker teeth than others, and their parents likely did too.
- Fluorosis — This is an example of too much of a good thing. Too much fluoride can stain a child’s teeth.
How does teeth whitening remove the stains?
The goal of teeth whitening is to return your teeth to their natural bright white color in a process similar to bleaching a stain out of a shirt. The bleaching agents we use are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, for in-office or at-home whitening, respectively. The enamel on your teeth is somewhat porous; that’s why it stains in the first place. The peroxide penetrates the tooth enamel and breaks down the stains, whitening them usually from three to seven shades.
Our teeth whitening options at Gentle Dentistry
We offer both in-office and at-home whitening at Gentle Dentistry. Both options usually result in a similar degree of whitening. The difference is time. Our in-office whitening takes just about an hour. At-home whitening takes a couple of weeks.
- Boost™ in-office whitening — We use the Boost™ whitening system from Opalescence Tooth Whitening Systems. It uses a 38% hydrogen peroxide concentration to remove stains. Plus, Boost™ contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to minimize sensitivity and actually strengthen your enamel during the whitening procedure. Unlike light-activated whitening, Boost™ is chemically activated, so our patients don’t need to worry about an uncomfortable hot light. We apply the Boost™ gel with a brushed tip to all of your teeth, and then activate it. In an hour your teeth are dramatically whiter.
- At-home whitening — For our at-home whitening program we take impressions of your teeth and use them to create custom trays for your upper and lower teeth. Unlike over-the-counter trays that are made in general sizes, our custom trays provide the snug fit required for the whitening gel to be the most effective. We then provide you with syringes of carbamide peroxide whitening gel, ranging in strength based on your tooth sensitivity and degree of staining. At home you wear the filled trays for 15 minutes to one hour every day for one to two weeks.
Can teeth whitening damage my teeth?
Teeth whitening has proven to be totally safe over decades of procedures. There are not any recorded instances of irreversible or structural damage caused by whitening programs.
Will whitening make my teeth sensitive?
Whitening can make your teeth a little more sensitive for a brief period of time after the application, but this sensation passes quickly. If you have particularly sensitive teeth, be sure to tell the team at Gentle Dentistry beforehand because we can desensitize your teeth before we perform the whitening.
How long will my teeth stay white?
Does insurance cover whitening?
Insurance does not usually cover teeth whitening, as it is considered a cosmetic procedure. If you have a flex spending account, you can use it to cover the cost of the whitening. Call and ask about our “White for Life” Program and our “Dental $avings Plan”!