The market for teeth whitening has exploded in recent years. According to one study, in-office teeth whitening is now the most popular dental procedure in the United States, accounting for around 32% of in-office treatments. Beyond in-office whitening, modern supermarkets and drug stores are filled with over-the-counter whitening products such as strips, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.
It’s easy to see why these procedures and products are so appealing. Having a bright smile can give you a boost of confidence, whether you’re preparing for a special event or want to look your best every day.
Of course, with so many teeth whitening treatments available today, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Those new to whitening often have questions like:
- Is OTC whitening effective?
- How safe are in-office treatments and OTC products?
- How long do I have to wait to see results?
- How long do results last?
To clear up any confusion, we spend this article looking at everything whitening. From in-office work to OTC products, read on to learn which safe tooth whitening approach will best meet your needs:
What Causes Tooth Discolorations
Before delving into specific whitening treatments, it’s important to explore why teeth become discolored in the first place. While it is common knowledge that things like coffee and smoking will cause discolorations, not everyone knows the specifics behind why discolorations occur.
Just like any part of the body, teeth undergo regular wear-and-tear over the years. Daily chewing and drinking, smoking, and physical activity can all take a major toll on how teeth look. Although regular cleanings at the dentist will keep your teeth healthy, pigmented foods, coffee/tea, and smoke can all cause lasting discolorations that survive cleanings. But why do discolorations occur? The answer lies in how teeth are structured.
Teeth are made of four layers. Beginning with the outermost layer, these include:
- Enamel, the hard calcified tissue that protects the tooth from damage while eating
- Dentin, the porous calcified tissue that reinforces the enamel and supports the tooth’s structure
- Cementum, the hard connective tissue that covers tooth roots
- Pulp, the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that makes up the center of the tooth
Enamel is naturally white while dentin is yellow. Dental discoloration occurs when:
- The enamel itself becomes stained due to medication, dental trauma, smoke exposure, or consumption of pigmented foods and drinks
- The enamel layer thins out over time due to natural causes, genetics, poor dental habits, excessive sugar, or acidic food. The thinner enamel becomes, the more dentin is exposed, causing one’s smile to appear yellow
Given all of the different factors that cause tooth discolorations, it’s easy to understand why it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a white smile over time. Fortunately, there are a number of effective and safe tooth whitening treatments available that can correct discolored teeth and give you the bright white smile you want.
Today’s Most Popular Tooth Whitening Treatments
Tooth whitening treatments come in a variety of forms, many of which can be found in your local drug store or supermarket. Whitening strips, toothpastes, and rinses can easily be picked up without a prescription for immediate use. However, there can be drawbacks to over-the-counter products, including:
- Slow results: OTC products often take over a month of daily use to produce results.
- Inconvenient instructions: Although rinses and toothpastes are easy to use, whitening strips can be a pain for many people. Not only do they have to be applied frequently, they often need to be left on for around an hour or more.
- Minimal whitening improvements: Drug store whitening products are available over-the-counter because they contain only a small amount of whitening agents. Even with proper use, OTC products will only be able to improve smile whiteness by a shade or two.
For quicker, more powerful results, professional in-office teeth bleaching is the better option.
Available from a cosmetic dentist or a practice like Beverly Hills Orthodontics that offers whitening services, in-office bleaching is a quick and safe tooth whitening treatment that delivers great results within 24 hours. At BHO, our in-office bleaching services involve the following steps:
- Cleaning the patient’s teeth
- Applying a whitening gel to the teeth. This whitening gel contains much stronger whitening agents than OTC products, allowing for much better results
- Shining a UV light on the teeth for 20 minutes to accelerate the whitening process
- Reapplying the whitening gel for another 20 minutes of bleaching
- Reapplying the whitening gel again for a final round of bleaching
After treatment, you will see immediate results. Although these results will vary on a person-by-person basis, you can expect your teeth to be 5-10 shades lighter within 24 hours.
In addition to bleaching, many practices—including BHO—offer custom-made whitening trays for at-home use. The trays resemble Invisalign aligners and are worn for around 2-3 hours a day. After three weeks of use, most patients will see a significant improvement in the color of their smile. These trays can either be used alone or after in-office whitening treatment to maintain your results.
Searching for Safe Tooth Whitening Treatments in LA?
In-office treatment and at-home whitening kits are the two easiest and most effective ways to brighten up your smile. Simple, safe, and capable of brightening teeth by multiple shades, professional whitening treatment is one of the quickest ways to improve your smile.
Here at Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we want all of our patients to have a smile that they love. That’s why we provide both professional in-office whitening and custom-made at-home whitening kits. Whether you want the instant results of in-office treatment or the convenience of trays, Dr. Madan and the BHO team will help you look and feel your best.