A brilliant, attractive smile conveys confidence and vitality. Over time, teeth can stain from a number of natural causes, giving them a darkened appearance. One of the most popular ways to enhance your smile and improve your appearance is teeth whitening. We have several options for bleaching your teeth at Dr. Brigati’s office.
Why Teeth Stain
Tooth staining can fall into two categories. Extrinsic, or external, staining refers to the type of stain that is formed on the outside of the tooth. Because the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) is porous, substances such as dark liquids, food and tobacco can sink into the layers of the teeth causing this type of staining. Intrinsic, or internal, staining refers to the actual discoloration of the internal structure of the tooth and is usually more difficult to remove.
You can develop teeth staining and discoloration from a variety of causes, including:
- Eating & Drinking Habits - Regular consumption of coffee, soda, red wine and deeply colored fruit can result in significant staining over time.
- Aging - Teeth darken as a result of normal wear and tear from our everyday lives. As we become older, our teeth can begin to show a yellow or brownish tinge from all the substances that have been absorbed over the years. The enamel that covers the teeth also gets thinner with age, allowing the underlying layer of yellowish dentin to become more exposed.
- Tobacco - Smoking leaves brown stains on the surface of the teeth. Additionally, nicotine can cause intrinsic discoloration by leaving behind dark residue that is absorbed within the tooth.
- Genetics - The natural thickness and shade of the enamel layer is hereditary and differs from person to person. Like variations in hair color, we are each born with our own base tooth color. Furthermore, the more dentin (main bony part of tooth) that can be seen through the enamel, the less bright and more yellow the teeth will appear.
- Medications - Tetracycline usage or excessive fluoride consumption during tooth formation can discolor teeth.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
With teeth whitening we can bleach the enamel to remove discolorations and stains from the teeth. There are several whitening methods available today. Each process is different and can be customized to fit your specific needs and goals. We offer a professional strength take-home whitening option, a custom professional strength take-home option, and a Zoom! in-office chairside bleaching option.
The Zoom! chair-side whitening system can brighten your teeth safely and efficiently. Featured on the hit ABC-TV show "Extreme Makeover," Zoom! is done in the office during one visit lasting 90-120 minutes, making it a great choice for our busy patients.
The procedure is simple and painless. Our trained team will isolate your lips and gums in preparation for the procedure. The hydrogen-peroxide based gel is then applied to your teeth and a specially designed light is used to initiate the process. The light allows the gel to be activated and the hydrogen-peroxide broken down into oxygen. As the oxygen penetrates the enamel and dentin, it bleaches stained surfaces and helps remove microscopic debris without affecting the internal structure of the tooth. The gel remains in place for 15 minutes while the light is activated. During this time, you can relax, play with your i-pad or listen to music. After three 15-minute sessions of light activation, treatment is complete and your teeth will be six to ten shades whiter on average. At the end of the appointment we place a varnish that will help decrease your post procedure sensitivity from the bleaching. We will also make custom bleaching trays for you with four weeks worth of touch-up bleach after your Zoom appointment at our office. This will enable you to do a day or two of touch-ups in a few months when you teeth may become stained from coffee, tea, or red wine.
Take Home Whitening Kits
We have two take home options at our office. One option is a professional strength take home bleaching system that you can use at home. Our second take home option are custom made whitening trays and professional strength gel which is a great alternative to the in-office treatment that we offer. Safe and effective, the whitening gel is delivered via custom-made trays that fit your teeth and mouth perfectly. The trays are worn for a prescribed period of time and are designed for maximum comfort and ease of use at your convenience. We will make molds of your teeth and the customized trays for you to take home and bleach. Each day you will bleach your teeth for thirty minutes and can bleach up to four weeks. Most of our patient’s have stated that after two weeks they are very happy with the results and will just save the rest of their bleach for touch-ups.
Taking the First Step
During your initial visit, your teeth and gums will be closely examined. Results vary from person to person so it is important that Dr. Brigati evaluate your specific dental needs in order to customize your treatment to provide you with great results. Whitening is not a permanent solution and requires maintenance for a lasting effect. Although most people will see a considerable improvement in the brightness and whiteness of their smile, patients with certain conditions may not benefit from whitening procedures. If whitening cannot get your teeth as white as you would like, Dr. Brigati will present some other dental options to consider.