Seeing your discolored teeth in the mirror can just drag you down. Not only can they make you look old, but discolored teeth can also make you feel old. Right there in front of you are last year’s stains, the residue, and baggage of all the things you did last year, like the coffee, wine, or chocolate habit you picked up. Or perhaps the residue of something you didn’t do, like your regular dental cleanings.
Teeth whitening lets you wash all that away. Eliminate the stains of yesteryear and go into this year with a bright, energetic smile that can make you look as young as you feel. At the Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea, we are prepared to deliver your whitening kit right away so you can get your bright smile faster.
How Teeth Get Stained
Your teeth might feel smooth, but they actually have an uneven surface. They have numerous pits and ridges, and these pits and ridges can trap colorful molecules from the food and drinks you consume, as well as other sources.
So, there are two main steps to tooth staining—first, the creation of more ridges and pits. Second, the accumulation of stain molecules.
Your teeth start with some pitting and ridges, but this gets worse when your teeth are exposed to acid. Acid etches your teeth and can create microscopic structures that trap stain molecules.
Then when your teeth are exposed to foods and drinks containing staining molecules, the ridges trap the molecules, which discolors your teeth. Common sources of staining molecules include:
- Red wine
- Dark beer
- Artificially colored foods
You can try to reduce the amount of staining food you eat or follow up with cleaning foods like cheese, but over time the combination of roughening and exposure leads to discoloration.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Teeth whitening brightens your teeth by breaking down staining molecules on the surface of your teeth. Chemicals (usually a form of peroxide) break the stain molecules apart, so they no longer look dark in color and also aren’t as quickly trapped in the ridges of your teeth. Then these broken molecules can be washed away, leaving your teeth looking youthful and bright.
Although there are multiple types of whitening, we believe the most effective is take-home whitening kits. Take-home whitening takes longer to get your final results (several weeks compared to one hour), but the results are better. Plus, the slow effect can be its own benefit. Instead of suddenly walking in after lunch with a bright smile, your teeth whiten gradually. This doesn’t call as much attention to itself, and people might think that you look different—younger, more energetic, healthier, etc.—but not know why. You might get questions about plastic surgery or a new hairstyle when people are responding to your brightening smile all along.
The process starts with a consultation. There, your dentist will evaluate the health and appearance of your smile. They will tell you if teeth whitening is a good choice for you. If it is, they will fit you with whitening trays. You take these trays home, and every night you put a small amount of whitening gel into the tray, then fit the trays over your teeth. You wear the trays for the recommended time, then take them out.