Looking in the mirror and seeing your teeth sport a less-than-favorable color or shade can be discouraging. Whether your teeth are slightly stained or extremely discolored, professional teeth whitening can be the ideal solution for rejuvenating your smile. By using innovative and advanced teeth whitening materials, our cosmetic dentist, Dr. Robin Rutherford, can effectively reverse discoloration for many patients to create a whiter, healthier-looking smile.
- Causes of Teeth Staining
- Over-The-Counter Vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
- At-Home Teeth Whitening
- Zoom® In-Office Teeth Whitening
- At-Home vs. In-Office Teeth Whitening
- What Is The Best Teeth Whitening Option For Me?
- Teeth Whitening Sensitivity
- Teeth Whitening Results
- Teeth Whitening Cost
- Teeth Whitening FAQs
What Causes Teeth Staining?
There are a variety of factors that contribute to the gradual discoloration of teeth. To begin, an individual’s natural tooth color is influenced by genetics, which slowly progresses with dental development. Since teeth are made up of porous material, stains from different elements are more easily absorbed onto the surface and can affect one’s tooth color over time. Some of the most common causes of teeth staining when consumed on a regular basis include:
- Highly pigmented foods and beverages (coffee, tea, berries, sodas, and red wine are just a few examples)
- Acidic foods and citrus
- Use of tobacco products
- Certain medications
Additionally, the natural aging process, oral hygiene, and lifestyle all play a role in the brightness and whiteness of teeth. Dr. Rutherford can examine your teeth and the level of discoloration to determine which treatment will be the best fit for your desired teeth whitening goals.
Over-The-Counter Vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
While both over-the-counter and professional whitening treatments can effectively brighten dull or stained teeth, the results are not necessarily equivalent. In-office treatments are typically more time efficient and can dramatically whiten teeth in a single day. The at-home whitening kits offered at The Art of Dentistry utilize custom-made trays for complete coverage as well as professional-grade bleaching formulas to achieve lighter, more vibrant shades. In addition, the results of our at-home whitening kits are monitored by our dentist, allowing you to customize and control your desired degree of whiteness. Compared to over-the-counter alternatives, professional whitening may also be better suited to treat deep-set stains.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
Our at-home whitening system is a convenient treatment that involves the use of custom-made trays and highly concentrated whitening gel. During your office visit, Dr. Rutherford will take a mold of your teeth to create a set of comfortable, custom-fitted trays. Depending upon your needs, you can wear the trays throughout the night or for just a few hours a day. If you have extremely sensitive teeth, you may even choose to use the trays every two or three days. The results of at-home teeth whitening typically become noticeable within a week or two. Since at-home teeth whitening gradually brightens the shade of the teeth, you can also have more control over the level of brightness. If this whitening approach is not sufficient, porcelain veneers or crowns can give you the smile you seek.
Zoom® In-Office Teeth Whitening
For patients who would like to whiten their teeth with immediate results, Dr. Rutherford offers in-office teeth whitening that can help to meet your needs. During the Zoom® teeth whitening procedure, a special gel will be applied to the surface of your teeth. Then, a low-intensity light will be held over your teeth to allow oxygen into the dentin and enamel, ultimately creating a bleaching effect.
The Zoom® teeth whitening procedure typically lasts about one hour here at our practice, and is known for its ability to lighten the teeth by several shades. Although Zoom® in-office teeth whitening procedures offer immediate results, patients can often achieve the best possible outcome by continuing the whitening process with the take-home kit. The combination of in-office and at-home treatments can have an even more significant effect on the look of your teeth for a brighter, whiter smile!
At-Home vs. In-Office Teeth Whitening
At-home teeth whitening can offer more convenience than in-office teeth whitening treatments. Depending on how quickly you would like to see your desired results, you may find that one is a more optimal solution. At-home teeth whitening has a more gradual approach to bleaching teeth and the process usually takes longer than in-office treatments. If you would like more immediate, long-lasting results, then in-office teeth whitening may be a better option. Sometimes, the in-office Zoom!® teeth whitening treatment is combined with take-home trays to produce more dramatic results.
What Is The Best Teeth Whitening Option For Me?
During the initial consultation, Dr. Rutherford will perform an oral exam and discuss your cosmetic goals. Factors that will determine which teeth whitening option is best for you will include the degree of staining, your desired shade of white, and how quickly you want to achieve your results. At the end of the consultation, you will be able to make an educated decision about which whitening option to choose.
Will My Teeth Be More Sensitive After Whitening?
It is not uncommon for patients to experience sensitivity following their teeth whitening treatment. Some people may have mild sensitivity while others may experience “zingers,” which are shocking bursts of discomfort in the nerves of the teeth. Tooth sensitivity typically subsides within two to three days; however, if patients also receive take-home teeth whitening trays, sensitivity may last longer as they are continuing their bleaching treatment at home. Individuals who know they have sensitive teeth should inform their dentist so that their treatment plan can be adjusted accordingly. Those experiencing sensitivity issues can minimize their discomfort by reducing the amount of whitening treatments they receive, using sensitivity-specific dental products, using mouthwash with fluoride, and switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush.
How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?
Although teeth whitening cannot provide permanent results, Dr. Rutherford can offer several recommendations for preserving your results after you have achieved your ideal shade of white. Good oral hygiene will help fight surface stains on a daily basis. Since your diet can significantly impact how long your teeth whitening results will last, minimizing the consumption of food and drinks such as berries, tomato sauce, coffee, tea, red wine, and soda can reduce staining and discoloration. In addition, Dr. Rutherford recommends you avoid tobacco products to keep your teeth looking bright. Since some degree of staining is inevitable over time, many of our patients opt for a “touch-up” treatment at six-month intervals to keep their smiles looking vibrant.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
The price of your teeth whitening will depend on the method you select. Dr. Rutherford will help you choose between at-home custom-made trays or Zoom!® in-office treatment, based on which option can best meet your expectations. On average, professional teeth whitening with the Zoom®! bleaching system costs $499 at our practice, while our take-home whitening typically costs $370. At the end of your initial consultation, Dr. Rutherford can give you a price quote for your treatment. Some of our patients take advantage of our dental financing options, which can offer low monthly installment plans.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Teeth Whitening
How often should I whiten my teeth?
The frequency of teeth whitening depends on a person’s cosmetic goals, tooth sensitivity, and lifestyle habits. If patients are looking to dramatically enhance the overall brightness and whiteness of their teeth, touch-ups should be scheduled more frequently until their desired tone is achieved. Individuals who smoke and/or regularly consume coffee, wine, or other usual staining agents may want to do more touch-ups as well to prolong their results. On the other hand, someone who is prone to tooth sensitivity may want less frequent whitening treatments to avoid discomfort.
Can I whiten my dental restorations?
Dental restorations such as porcelain veneers, fillings, and porcelain crowns cannot be whitened. These dental appliances are not impacted by the teeth whitening process like normal teeth are, which is why dentists usually recommend bleaching your teeth to the desired shade before receiving any tooth restorations. If you already have dental restorations and would like them to be whiter, then your dentist may have to replace them.
What should I eat after teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening can be an extremely effective method for brightening your smile; however, the results can be reversed if patients eat or drink certain foods and beverages known to discolor teeth. After teeth bleaching, the enamel becomes more porous and as a result, more susceptible to staining. For the first couple of days after treatment, dentists typically recommend only eating foods that are lighter-colored, like eggs, potatoes, light-colored cheese, bananas, etc. After two days, patients can go back to their normal diet; however, to prolong teeth whitening results, individuals should avoid regularly consuming dark-colored foods and drinks. This includes coffee, red wine, various berries, marinara sauce, and some types of tea.
Is teeth whitening safe?
Generally speaking, professional teeth whitening is considered to be a safe and effective method to revitalize your smile and produce optimal results. When your teeth whitening treatment is done by an experienced and highly-trained cosmetic dentist, they will customize a treatment plan that avoids damage to the teeth and reduces the chance of discomfort or tooth sensitivity as much as possible. The American Dental Association (ADA) concurs that in-office and at-home teeth whitening practices and over-the-counter products with the “ADA Seal of Acceptance” are safe and viable treatments.
Should I get a dental cleaning before or after teeth whitening?
While receiving a dental cleaning is not required before a teeth whitening procedure, it is highly recommended that patients do so for the best results. By getting your teeth cleaned, you will allow for the teeth whitening gel to affect your teeth properly without any blockage from plaque, bacteria, or food buildup that has accrued on your teeth. Ensuring that your teeth are cleaned helps you achieve maximum results and an improved smile for the future.
Does insurance cover teeth whitening?
Since teeth whitening is an elective cosmetic dental treatment, insurance companies are not likely to cover the procedure. Our practice offers dental financing options through a reputable third-party lender to ease budgetary concerns for qualified applicants. We are happy to provide more information during your initial visit and review those options with you or help you get started with the approval process.
Will whitening my teeth damage my enamel?
Professional teeth whitening, particularly under the care of an experienced cosmetic dentist, provides patients with a customized treatment plan intended to avoid damage to the teeth and enamel. Your dentist will supervise and monitor the chosen method to ensure your safety and satisfaction. It’s important to note that some “natural” whitening techniques, such as charcoal products, can actually be more abrasive on the teeth, stripping away natural enamel and potentially causing permanent damage. It is highly recommended to discuss any teeth whitening plans with your dentist to ensure the safety and preservation of your natural teeth.
At what age can I start whitening my teeth?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAPD) recommends waiting until all adult teeth are fully erupted before starting any teeth whitening treatments – generally after 14 years of age. This will ensure the pulp of the teeth is completely formed and reduces the likelihood of tooth sensitivity and soreness. Your dentist will also likely recommend waiting to finish any orthodontic plans as teeth can become stained during those treatments and whitening may be desired upon completion.
When should I whiten my teeth before a big event?
Scheduling your teeth whitening to align with an upcoming event will depend on the type of treatment recommended by your dentist. For example, an in-office Zoom® teeth whitening procedure only takes about one hour to achieve immediate results that can lighten teeth by several shades in a single visit. However, if an at-home solution is preferable, you should plan to begin treatment at least two weeks prior (or more depending on tooth sensitivities) in order to have more noticeable results in time for the big event. This technique is more gradual as it uses custom-made trays and a highly concentrated whitening gel applied daily or several times per week.
Contact Dr. Robin Rutherford for Your Teeth Whitening Needs
If you would like more information on our at-home and in-office teeth whitening treatments, please contact The Art of Dentistry today.