Teeth whitening: how to whiten teeth professionally

14 June · 5 minutes

Everyone wants that perfect white smile, but the question is, how to get it. In recent years there has been a boom in different types of teeth whitening, from lasers to trays. Whether with a dentist or at home, teeth whitening comes in many forms. In this article, we’ll take a look at how the different teeth whitening treatments work, how much they cost, and why it is important to seek help from a professional.

What is teeth whitening?

Before we dig in, it’s important to start by addressing what teeth whitening is. It’s a cosmetic dentistry treatment that is designed to lighten the color of the teeth by one shade or more. It’s how many people get rid of their yellow teeth or remove stains.

Every patient and their teeth are unique, so it’s important to keep in mind that the results will vary from one person to the next.

That being said, you should try and have realistic expectations about the outcome of your teeth whitening treatment. The reality is that the large majority of those who undergo treatment achieve a visibly whiter and brighter smile. Depending on the natural color of the enamel, it isn’t always possible to accomplish a perfectly white shade, but again most patients would say that they saw noticeable results.

Patient getting professional laser teeth whitening treatment

Why are my teeth yellow?

When thinking about how to whiten your teeth, you first need to understand what causes them to yellow in the first place. If you know why your teeth turn yellow, you’ll know how to get rid of that color and how to keep them whiter for longer. So let’s take a look at some of the most common yellow teeth causes:

  • Natural teeth color: everyone has a different natural shade of enamel. In healthy teeth it can range anywhere from yellow to white.
  • Age: the same way time ages other parts of your body, it changes your teeth. Teeth tend to yellow and darken over time due to wear and accumulating stains. This also means that they get increasingly difficult to bleach, but not impossible.
  • Translucency: Genetics place a role in what causes yellow teeth. Usually, the thicker and more opaque the teeth are, the whiter they tend to be. And then on the reverse side, thinner and more transparent teeth tend to appear more yellowish, and can also be more difficult to treat.
  • Diet: Certain foods or drinks like tea, coffee, and wine gradually stain the teeth, turning them yellow or greyish. Acidic foods are all causes of yellow teeth as they directly attack the enamel. The surface of the tooth becomes finer, which in turn, has an even greater effect on the tooth‚Äôs color.
  • Tobacco: Cigarettes are not only bad for your overall well-being, but for oral health as well. Nicotine stains and discolors the teeth.
  • Trauma: Sometimes when teeth get damaged they turn darker.

How does teeth whitening work?

Regardless of which type of teeth whitening you use, the treatment works by applying a hydrogen peroxide gel. The teeth whitening gel will either be made from hydrogen peroxide itself or from carbamide peroxide, which decomposes into hydrogen peroxide.

How does hydrogen peroxide work in teeth whitening?

So, how does teeth whitening with hydrogen peroxide work? It gets absorbed into the pores of the enamel and penetrates in the inner layers, whitening the teeth from the inside.

Quick reminder that hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening should always be supervised by a professional. You’ll need to have your teeth analyzed first to determine if they’re suitable for treatment.

How to whiten teeth: types of teeth whitening

As we mentioned earlier, there are several different types of teeth whitening. When you’re deciding how to whiten your teeth, you should keep in mind that each method has its own strength; some are more effective than others, and some are more efficient. Below we’ll take a look at each so you can choose which is best for you.

Professional laser teeth whitening

Laser teeth whitening is one of the best options since it’s done with a professional in a single session at the dentist. The dentist will apply a teeth whitening product to your teeth and expose them to an LED light.

The light activates the agents in the whitening gel and helps them penetrate the tooth for immediate results. While a great option, it’s important to note that the laser technique can’t achieve a perfect level of white on severely stained teeth.

Professional teeth whitening with trays at home

Wondering how to make your teeth white at home? This could be the option for you. Many people enjoy getting a whiter smile from home using teeth whitening trays - under the supervision of a professional. The dentist will prescribe you a teeth whitening gel and explain how to use it at home. They’ll be able to match you with a product depending on the color of your enamel and the nature of your teeth.

They should also instruct you in terms of the length and frequency of product use. Teeth whitening with trays normally requires several sessions at home.

Closeup of teeth whitening tray with hydrogen peroxide gel

Combined whitening

If you want to know how to get white teeth in the most effective way, you might be asking which of the previous two options is better. Well, the real truth is the best way to make your teeth white is by doing both! Alternating between laser teeth whitening and with trays at home is the best way to get efficient and long-lasting results. You should ask your dentist for instructions to ensure you’re combining safely.

Internal teeth whitening

Internal teeth whitening is the option that is usually recommended for patients that have a devitalized tooth (tooth from which the nerve has been removed) that has darkened. Unlike the rest of whitening options, this is done internally and only on the tooth that you want to whiten.

The importance of teeth cleaning and whitening

Before performing any teeth whitening procedures, you’ll need to get a professional dental cleaning. Cleaning before teeth whitening is important since the accumulation of tartar is one of the factors that influence staining. So it’s best to get a teeth cleaning before whitening if we want to ensure good results.

Pros and cons of teeth whitening

Like everything in life, teeth whitening has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at them below.

Benefits of the teeth whitening

First we have the benefits of teeth whitening:

  • It improves your confidence. One of the benefits of teeth whitening is that many patients have seen their self-esteem improved. They had once had stains or yellow teeth, and lost their confidence when it came to smiling. But after whitening they were back to feeling self-assured.
  • It's a painless, effective, and fast procedure. Whitening is a painless procedure, so there's no need to worry. Also, great results can be achieved in just one session, depending on the type of whitening you undergo, and the results are usually quite satisfactory.
  • It rejuvenates the smile. Since teeth get stained over the years, another one of the benefits of teeth whitening is that we manage to rejuvenate the smile and, therefore, our entire appearance.
Patient getting professional LED teeth whitening treatment

Cons and disadvantages of teeth whitening

On the other hand, we have the cons and disadvantages of teeth whitening:

  • Teeth whitening treatment is not for life. Over time, teeth can become stained again if you don't brush and floss well. You‚Äôll also see a loss of results if you smoke or frequently drink foods and drinks that stain your teeth.
  • It can cause tooth and gum sensitivity. Some people experience sensitive teeth after whitening. This sensitivity does not happen to all patients, and it should disappear after a few days.
  • If applied incorrectly, the product can whiten teeth in inconsistent shades, causing the teeth to look patchy or uneven. That‚Äôs why it‚Äôs essential to always carry out teeth whitening under the supervision of the dentist.

Teeth whitening dangers and risks

If you do it under professional supervision, teeth whitening is totally safe. The dangers of teeth whitening come when you try to do the procedure unsupervised at home. That’s why you should avoid the temptation of buying cheap online kits. you could put your health and that of your teeth at risk.

If you don’t get your teeth analyzed by a professional and follow their suggestion in terms of using a suitable product, there is a risk of not getting any teeth whitening results.

Whitening products should also be used over a specific period of time determined by your doctor. Plus, these products should never exceed the recommended percentage of carbamide peroxide because it can be dangerous to your oral health.

When you buy a product online, you risk weakening or damaging your tooth’s enamel which can in turn cause dental sensitivity.

Remember that all these teeth whitening risks only apply to those treatments that are done at home, unsupervised. Teeth whitening with a professional is always safe.

How to stop teeth sensitivity after whitening

As mentioned above, although it’s not something that happens to all patients, sometimes people can feel some teeth sensitivity after whitening.

We can define teeth sensitivity as a cold, stinging sensation that can be felt in the teeth when eating very cold or very hot food or drinks. The product that helps whiten teeth is the same product that can cause sensitivity. It penetrates through the enamel, then reaches the dentin and finally reaches the nerve, causing sensitivity.

So, if you’re wanting to know how to stop teeth sensitivity after whitening, you’ll be happy to know that there are several remedies to combat it:

  • Use fluoridated paste. Fluoride is a mineral that helps fight tooth sensitivity with its remineralizing and enamel-strengthening powers. Most toothpastes on the market already contain fluoride in their composition, so they‚Äôre a good place to start.
  • Although there aren‚Äôt any strictly prohibited foods after a teeth whitening treatment, it‚Äôs best to avoid very hot or cold drinks right after the treatment, as they increase dental sensitivity due to the sudden change in temperature. You should also keep in mind that the tooth‚Äôs enamel is porous, so you can feel these temperature changes in the dental pulp or nerve. Other foods to avoid after teeth whitening include drinks or foods with a high content of tannins, such as coffee, black tea, red wine, etc.
  • Use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. You can use this type of toothpaste a few weeks before undergoing a whitening treatment to try and desensitize your teeth. In addition to a paste, this product also exists as a gel and can be applied to the tooth surface.
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush. These brushes are suitable for teeth sensitivity since they‚Äôre softer with the teeth and gums. Avoid any aggressive brushes.

Professional teeth whitening cost

The price of teeth whitening varies across the US, so it can change depending on your location and the reputation of your dentist. The average cost tends to be around $650 - custom at-home trays are usually around $400, but the price can get as high at $1000 if you choose to do professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office.

Patient showing an at-home whitening tray

Align and whiten your smile with Impress

At Impress you can enjoy not only a gleaming smile, but we can also safely and invisibly align your teeth. To help you achieve a whiter smile while straightening your teeth, we include a free teeth whitening foam to use with your aligners in your Impress kit. The foam we offer has a low concentration and is therefore safe to use, but it will not have the same results as professional whitening. The teeth whitening foam is also good for your aligners, as it helps keep them clean and fresh. The foam should be placed in the aligners for 30 minutes a day to ensure optimal results.

If after everything you‚Äôve read you‚Äôre feeling ready to get that perfect smile, come check us out at Impress. We want to invite you to a free consultation so you can learn more about the dental treatments we offer. You can get in touch with us by calling (888) 490 1421 or you can book your initial consultation online.

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Frequently asked questions about teeth whitening

Is teeth whitening safe?

Yes, teeth whitening is totally safe when supervised by a medical professional.

Does teeth whitening hurt?

No, it shouldn’t be painful. However, it’s possible that you might experience some sensitivity after treatment, especially to hot, cold, or acidic foods. However, it should go away as soon as the treatment ends. When done correctly, patients should not experience teeth whitening pain.

Does teeth whitening damage the teeth?

If you go to a professional, teeth whitening should never damage your teeth. If you don’t follow your specialist’s recommendations by abusing the product, using it too frequently, or for a longer time than indicated, it’s possible to damage your teeth. That’s why treatment should always be done under medical supervision.

How long does teeth whitening last?

The duration of results depends on the patient, their lifestyle and habits, as well as which teeth whitening method they used. Normally, teeth whitening results last between 6 months and 2 years; after that, you’ll need to visit your teeth whitening dentist to receive a touch-up to maintain the results.

How often should you whiten your teeth?

How often you should whiten your teeth depends on how long your initial results last. Every case is different but in most cases, people generally need a touch-up every 6 months or once a year.

How long does whitening teeth take?

If you decide to get your teeth whitened by a professional, you can expect to schedule up to three sessions, each lasting anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour.

What is the best way to whiten teeth?

As we’ve mentioned, there are many options to whiten your teeth, but when it comes to the most effective and efficient, professional laser teeth whitening tends to be the best way to whiten your teeth. It’s the safest method that provides the fastest results. The only downside of professional whitening is how much it costs. So we recommend combining the use of laser treatments with the use of whitening trays for best price and results.

What not to eat after teeth whitening?

Right after a whitening procedure there are some foods and drinks that are better to stay away from. You should avoid dark liquids like coffee and wine, as well as liquids with high acidity like fruit juices, fizzy drinks, and alcohol. Then with foods, it's best to refrain from eating anything overly sugary like cakes or ice cream, and foods with artificial coloring like ketchup and popsicles. This is true if you do teeth whitening at home or in the clinic.

Why are my teeth yellow when I brush them everyday?

Even if we brush our teeth every day, over time teeth can change their shade due to genetic factors. In addition, there are certain stains, such as those caused by smoking, that cannot always be removed with regular brushing. Finally, an incorrect brushing technique can also mean that, no matter how much we clean our teeth, we do not remove all the stains.


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