What Is Teeth Whitening?
Over time, certain factors can make your teeth appear brown, yellow, or dull. Teeth whitening is the process that aims to make your teeth whiter and brighter through one of many different methods.
The two types of teeth staining are — extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic staining occurs due to outside factors like certain foods or habits. These stains are usually on the outside of the tooth (enamel) and can be alleviated with whitening products. Intrinsic staining, on the other hand, is caused by disease or internal factors that are usually unresponsive to teeth whitening.
What Causes Tooth Stains?
Tooth stains can either be caused by lifestyle habits or poor dental health. The former can usually be fixed with teeth whitening procedures or lifestyle changes.
Certain foods and drinks contain pigments that discolor the white parts of your tooth. This includes coffee, tea, soda, wines, and certain starchy foods like pasta. Additionally, smoking or chewing tobacco can stain the teeth as well as enhance the risk of developing oral cancer.
Tooth stains can also be caused by poor dental health. This includes:
- Improper dental hygiene: forgetting to brush or floss can cause plaque to build up, which wears away enamel over time.
- Medications: certain antibiotics have been known to affect the color of teeth when taken as a child. This is because some medications can affect enamel production.
- Aging: As you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away, which exposes the yellow layer underneath (dentin).
- Trauma: Getting hit in the mouth or damage to a tooth can disturb enamel formation and decrease blood flow to the nerves in the root. These can both affect the color of your mouth.
- Diseases: Medical treatments like radiation or chemotherapy can cause the teeth to become discolored.
Types of Teeth Whitening
There are many different options when it comes to whitening your teeth, but most of them revolve around the same science and methods. Talk to a dentist about which option might make the most sense to you.
Whitening in your dentist’s office is one of the most effective and safe because it is conducted by a dental professional. In most cases, this type of whitening involves placing a tooth bleach over your teeth to remove stains.
Power bleaching involves multiple sessions at a dentist’s office. They’ll have you rinse your teeth with a powerful solution or either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These bleaches break down the stains into smaller pieces to lessen the concentration of discoloration and make your teeth appear brighter.
Dentists might also provide you with bleaching agents that you can use from home. These are more powerful than what you’d be able to get over the counter at a drugstore. At-home bleaching products typically incorporate the use of a bleaching tray that you’ll wear in your mouth for a specified amount of time.
There are many over-the-counter whitening products available for purchase in drug stores and grocery stores. These are not as powerful or effective as those you’d be able to use in a dentist’s office, but they do work to remove stains and improve the appearance of your smile.
Whitening toothpastes are common, and they typically contain small amounts of baking soda. While baking soda is effective at reducing stains, it can also be abrasive to your tooth’s outer layer of enamel. For that reason, it’s important to use these products sparingly and according to package instructions.
You might also come across some whitening products that use UV light to remove stains on the teeth. These kits incorporate the use of ultraviolet light in addition to tooth whitening agents in order to expedite the process of whitening.
A general rule of thumb is to just speak with your dentist before you decide to go through with any form of at-home whitening. While they are usually safe, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Veneers are thin covers that adhere to the surface of a tooth to give teeth a more classically shaped look. At the same time, these can be used to make the teeth appear whiter and brighter.
Veneers are a permanent change to your mouth that are not recommended purely for whitening. Instead, whitening is just a nice byproduct. Veneers are typically used for closing gaps or correcting small misalignments.
Veneers will not respond to whitening bleaches or treatments, so it is important to properly care for them if you do end up getting some.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening, especially when done at a dentist’s office, is considered safe and effective. While some individuals experience tooth sensitivity shortly after whitening treatments begin, this is usually temporary.
Sensitivity can feel more severe depending on how often you use whitening products. Especially if you use products with baking soda, it’s possible to wear away the outer layer of enamel. This can cause increased sensitivity and discomfort.
Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?
Dental insurance is separate from primary health insurance, and only about 50% of dentate adults in the United States actually have dental coverage in the first place. While insurance can be helpful for covering the cost of dental procedures, teeth whitening is not a covered expense.
This is because it is considered an elective cosmetic procedure. Teeth whitening does not work to treat or prevent disease, at least according to insurance companies, so you’ll be stuck paying out of pocket. And even if they did cover it, annual premiums and monthly fees might not even make it worth it in the first place.
With that said, Flossy is here to brighten your day and your smile. We’re a pay-as-you-go dental service that can save you up to 50% on common dental procedures without insurance. And considering teeth whitening can cost anywhere from $500-1,000, that means you’ll be saving big.
There are no monthly fees or annual premiums, so the price you see is the price you get. There’s also no waiting period, so once you become a member, you’ll have access to rigorously vetted dentists in the Scottsdale area right away.
So stop letting price be a barrier between you and the smile of your dreams. Find a dentist near you to save your bank account while splurging on your health and well-being.
Teeth whitening is a process that serves to brighten and whiten the color of teeth due to staining. Most whitening agents incorporate the use of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide to break up stains and make the teeth appear more attractive.
Whitening can be done in a dentist’s office or from home. While over-the-counter treatments are often less effective because they contain lower concentrations of active ingredients, neither are covered by insurance plans.
Whitening can be expensive, but Flossy can help you access the care you need at the prices you want. You only pay for the services you receive, and considering we can save you up to 50% on common procedures, we’re here to help you achieve your dental goals.
Find a dentist in the Scottsdale area today to get started towards a brighter smile.
An overview of tooth discoloration: extrinsic, intrinsic and internalized stains | NCBI
Tooth Discoloration: Causes, Treatment & Prevention | Cleveland Clinic.
Tooth Whitening | MouthHealthy.org