Teeth Whitening Experts

Are you unhappy with the color of your teeth? You are not alone. 67% of Americans have tried whitening their teeth. Teeth can lose their white hue for a variety of reasons. These reasons many include age, stains, or poor dental hygiene. Teeth whitening is a good solution for these problems.

Americans tend to believe that white teeth are incredibly desirable, and many will try anything to match the smiles they see on Hollywood's best and brightest. From whitening toothpaste to whitening strips, there are many options out there to help improve the color of your teeth. Did you know, however, that you'll get better results if you visit a professional—such as Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics—to whiten your teeth. Read more about why it's better to put your faith in a tooth whitening expert.

A Quick Whitening History

Four thousand years ago, in ancient Egypt, bright white teeth were thought of in the same breath as beauty and wealth. They developed a paste that combined ground pumice stone with wine vinegar, and ancient Egyptians used this to raise their stature. Ancient Romans whitened their teeth using urine (the ammonia within acted as a bleaching agent). This is not recommended for use today—there are much better options!

In the 1600s, barbers were not just in charge of hair, but in charge of teeth as well. In addition to filing and shaping teeth, barbers also used an acid to whiten teeth. However, the acid also ate away at tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. In the 1800s, chlorine was used for teeth whitening, while in the 1900s, hydrogen peroxide was the whitener of choice.

In much more recent history, the 1970s and 1980s brought an easier way of whitening teeth, albeit by accident. Peroxide was routinely used to soothe soreness in the gums (often after the removal of braces). To keep the peroxide on the gums long enough to have an effect, scientists tried trays of peroxide. Not only did this keep the peroxide gel on the gums longer, but it also whitened teeth. Modern day whitening was born!

The Hazards of Teeth Whitening

Though certainly not on a level with the damage caused by early attempts at teeth whitening, there are risks to trying to whiten your teeth on your own. It's possible to go to any store that sells dental products and find a whole host of items that boast a whitening effect. Strips, toothpaste, floss, and gels are all available over the counter. Each one works in a slightly different way, but all of them can be used at home by the consumer without having a dentist involved.

Any type of bleach applied to the teeth can have side effects. Some of these may just be temporary, while others may be more permanent. Irritation of the gums and tooth sensitivity are potential temporary effects. Damage to tooth enamel if bleaching agents are misused or over-used is permanent—and may require extensive dental work to repair. Using too much bleach for whitening can also lead to giving your teeth a translucent appearance, as opposed to the white look you are looking for. This discoloration will be on display mostly around the edges of your teeth and is not reversible.

Everyone is busy with work, family, and all the activities that make up our daily lives. If whiter teeth are desired, an over-the-counter solution may seem like the ticket. With the risk of side effects, however, you may want to carve some time into your schedule to work with an expert to whiten your teeth. At Pacific Northwest Prosthodontists, we offer consultations during which we can offer some whitening solutions for you, including whitening done in our office or treatments we can oversee for you to do at home.

The Process of Whitening

You have several options when it comes to whitening your teeth, all of which a professional can help you do safely, minimizing the side effects you may experience.

In-Office Whitening

This type of whitening process is done right in your dentist or prosthodontist's office. There, a hydrogen peroxide gel will be applied to your teeth. This gel is stronger than what you can buy at your local pharmacy. An intense light might be used to activate the oxygen ions in the gel. Because you are in the office, the dentist or prosthodontist can monitor the amount of time the gel is on your teeth. This treatment is relatively painless and quite effective. You should notice improvements straight away.

At-Home Tray Whitening

Your dental professional can provide custom trays and whitening gel only available from a dental practice. At home, you will put the gel into trays that fit your mouth exactly. The peroxide in the gel breaks down as it sits on your teeth, whitening them. Whitening tray treatments generally last 10 to 14 days, though you may see results in as soon as three to five days.

Over-the-Counter Whiteners

If you would prefer to try to use an over-the-counter whitener, be sure to ask your dentist or prosthodontist for advice on which treatments might be best for you. Paint-on teeth whiteners involve a gel you can purchase that is applied to your teeth with a small brush. The gel then hardens into a film which coats your teeth. That film then dissolves, leaving your teeth whiter. Please note that the gel you can buy over the counter is not as effective as the gel your dental professional would use.

Many people like to use teeth-whitening strips. Strips of flexible plastic are coated on one side with hydrogen peroxide, then the strips are applied to your upper and lower teeth. The strips are left on for 30 minutes two times a day. The length and effectiveness of this type of treatment differs from person to person. Whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes are available, although using these products will not have the same effect as a proper professional whitening. They generally only work on surface stains and will only mildly lighten your teeth.

In the Market for Whitening?

If your teeth are not the color you wish they were, contact our office today. We'll set up a consultation to discuss the best option for whitening your teeth and brightening your smile.