Read the following for important information about treatments for teeth whitening (a form of cosmetic dentistry) at Schope Dental, Colorado Springs, CO:
Facts about teeth whitening
When we were younger, our teeth were naturally white. This was due to their porcelain-like enamel surface. Tooth enamel is composed of microscopic crystalline rods. It protects the tooth from the effects of gnashing, chewing and acid deposits from sugar. Unfortunately, as we age, enamel wears down and becomes transparent. When the enamel becomes transparent, it allows the yellowish color of the underlying dentin layer of the tooth to show through. This is why as we age our teeth seem to appear yellow. Of course, we can also make our teeth yellow by staining them.
Types of stains:
Extrinsic stains are caused from exposure to beverages, foods or tobacco. Some of these stains are minor and are easily removed with a thorough dental cleaning. However, if stains are left untreated, they will become ingrained in the dentin.
Intrinsic stains are stains that form in the interior part of the tooth. This is the type of stain that results from trauma, exposure to minerals, excessive fluoride treatments or aging. In years past, intrinsic stains were considered untreatable. However, today even set-in intrinsic stains are removable with the use of whitening treatments.
What are the common causes of tooth stains?
- Age: As mentioned before, our age has a direct effect on the color of our teeth. This is just simply from the wear and tear the teeth endure over a lifetime of use. Teeth whitening efforts will vary in success depending on age. For example, teenagers will find their teeth easy to whiten, but an older adult will have a much harder time achieving the same effect. By the age of 50, many people require professional help to remove set-in stains.
- Original color of the teeth: It is a little known fact that each of us are predisposed to have a certain tooth color from birth. The color variations range from grey to yellowish brown. Those with a yellowish tint will find bleaching is more effective than those that have a grayish tint to their teeth.
- Diet: Various foods have a negative effect on the color of the teeth. For example, coffee, tea, carrots, red wine, oranges and any other very dark beverages will eventually cause stains if consumed habitually.
- Smoking: Not only is smoking harmful for the body, but it is also very detrimental to the teeth. Nicotine causes brown deposits to leak into the tooth and cause intrinsic discoloration.
- Thinness: Thicker teeth have an advantage over thin ones when it comes to appearance. A thick opaque tooth appears lighter and is very responsive to bleaching, but thin or transparent teeth are more difficult to bleach. This is due to thin teeth containing less of the pigment required for bleaching. Unfortunately, transparency is one problem that is not easily countered with any form of whitening.
- Accidents: Any trauma caused by falls or accidents can produce cracks in the teeth, and these cracks make the perfect home for stains and debris to gather.
Types of teeth whitening available:
- Professional teeth whitening in-office: In-office whitening is the only way to achieve drastic results in a short amount of time. The most commonly used method is the application of a concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel to the teeth administered by a dentist. The patient’s gums are protected during this procedure by a paint-on rubber dam. After the application of the gel, it is typically left on the teeth for 15 to 20 minute intervals for an hour at the most. Stubborn stains may require additional bleaching sessions to achieve the desired results. In some cases, home whitening systems are also required. The average cost of this procedure is $650 per visit.
- Take-home teeth whitening kits: This is not the same product as whitening strips or kits that are found in stores. This is a professionally dispensed take-home whitening kit. It has great results when used over a period of time. The take-home kits have a lower concentration of carbamide peroxide gel. The gel remains on the teeth for an hour at the least and sometimes longer. In some instances, it is advised to leave gel on overnight. The gel can remain on the teeth for a longer period of time than the other treatment due to the lower-concentration peroxide in the gel. The gel is easy to apply to the teeth using a bleaching tray that is custom-made for each patient. Take-home whitening kits typically cost from $100 to $400.
- Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits: The cheapest way to whiten teeth is over-the-counter teeth whitening kits. They feature a bleaching gel with a lower concentration than professional kits. The gel is applied using a one-size fits all tray unlike the professional kits that are custom fit to each person. Moreover, store-bought kits most often only whiten a few of the front teeth, but a professional kit will whiten a whole mouth full of teeth. These store-bought kits usually cost from $20 to $100.
Video: How Teeth Whitening Works
In this video, Dr. Schope explains how teeth whitening was invented and how it works:
What is the difference between hydrogen peroxide and caramide peroxide?
The in-office teeth whitening peroxide of choice is hydrogen peroxide. This is due to the desire for immediate results. However, the peroxide used in take-home kits is a slower acting caramide peroxide. Carbamide has a third of the strength of hydrogen peroxide.
Teeth whitening shade guidelines:
In dentist offices, tooth whitening progress is measured with before and after tooth color guides. These guides display a large range of tooth colors. The guide of choice is the Vitapan Classic Shade Guide. This guide incorporates 16 shades ranging from light to dark. It is grouped into four different color categories and allows all dentists to use the same universal tooth color descriptions. Guides allow patients to see the progress in their teeth color.
What are the risks of teeth whitening?
For the most part, teeth whitening is extremely safe. However, this procedure does have some risks.
- Irritation of the gums: Around half of the patients who use peroxide whiteners experience gum irritation to varying degrees. This irritation is felt at the point of contact between the gums and the whitening trays. Fortunately, the inflammation only lasts for a few days.
- Tooth sensitivity: Whitening can cause a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity noticed with both pressure and touch. Usually this occurs immediately in the office when the high-powered peroxide is used. Patients that suffer from gum recession or other dental issues are the patients most likely to experience this sensitivity. This uncomfortable feeling usually lasts for a day or two, but in some instances, it can last up to a month.
Other important facts about teeth whitening:
Whitening results are often not fully realized until two weeks of whitening treatments.
The area exposed by recessed gums is often very difficult to bleach.
If a patient has veneers, they may experience a discoloration of their teeth after bleaching. This is due to the veneers reacting differently to the bleach than the natural teeth enamel. This causes the teeth to present various shades of white instead of a uniformed shade.
White teeth are considered a sign of good health and youth. For those of us with yellowed teeth, beautiful white teeth are only something from the past. Thankfully, there are many procedures that will restore our teeth to their former beauty. These procedures are not able to create unnaturally white teeth but will achieve tooth brightening. Therefore, keeping expectations realistic is imperative to a whitening procedures success. If we expect white teeth that blind those around us after a whitening procedure, then we will be disappointed. However, if we expect our teeth to gradually brighten and become whiter in the process, we will consider our whitening procedures very productive.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
Nowadays, everyone wants brighter teeth, and that creates a high demand for teeth cleaning systems and procedures. Everyone looks best when they are smiling. People choose to get teeth cleaning because they want to have a clean, strong, bright smile. Experts believe that smile is a key social asset and an unattractive smile can hurt your self-esteem. So it’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to teeth whitening these days.
It’s always a good idea to invest in something that makes you feel confident and radiant. There’s a lot of teeth whitening systems, procedures and products, so prices vary widely for teeth whitening. If your teeth ares not looking bright enough but the thought of spending big bucks to brighten your smile is getting in the way, you need to examine the various options available to you.
Take-home teeth whitening alternatives – Dentist-dispensed, take-home whitening kits can be used in conjunction with professional power bleaching or as an alternative to professional teeth whitening. These kits can be very effective because they are used over extended periods. Over-the-counter teeth whitening systems can cost as little as $20. If you want professional teeth whitening, expect the cost to be up to several hundred dollars. If you want an at-home teeth bleaching kit from your dental care professional, expect to pay up to $400 or more.
In-office teeth whitening – This is the most popular teeth whitening and cosmetic dental procedures. This procedure is also known as professional whitening, power whitening or power bleaching. Unlike home-use whitening methods that use low-dose bleaching agents, in-office teeth whitening, is performed under professionally monitored conditions which ensure the safe, controlled use of a high concentration of bleaching product or gel, yielding immediate results. In-office teeth whitening can cost up to $650, even as much as $1000.
Financial options – Teeth cleaning is covered by most insurance plans. There may be a copayment due on your date of service, depending on your insurance plan. Your final financial responsibility can only be determined by your insurance company. Full payment is usually required on the date of service if you do not have insurance. Most dental offices provide patients with a convenient payment plan for dental procedures, including teeth cleaning. Contact your dental care clinic for details.
Considerations – In-office teeth whitening is more expensive than do-it-yourself, take-home systems. Its cost is around $650 while take-home trays cost about $400 and less than $100 for over-the-counter whitening strips or bleaching trays. Most people will benefit from tooth whitening, but keep in mind that each situation is unique and it is best to consult your dental professional. Be sure to check with your dentist before choosing any tooth whitening procedure.
Learn more about your treatment options for teeth whitening in Colorado Springs
Call 719-260-8089 to schedule a consultation with cosmetic dentist, Betty Jo Schope, DDS, PC. During your consultation, Dr. Schope will assess your needs and help you develop the proper teeth whitening plan.
For more information about cosmetic dentistry at Schope Dental, click here.