Kirkwood Dentist Explains Cosmetic Teeth Whitening Treatments

Written by Dr. Grayem on Jun 19, 2012

Kirkwood Dentist Explains Cosmetic Teeth Whitening Treatments

Modern dental technology has transformed cosmetic dentistry, allowing an increasing number of patients to benefit from non-invasive, comfortable, and efficient cosmetic procedures. Teeth whitening procedures are consistently popular in our Kirkwood dentist office because they can deliver dramatic results with a minimal investment of time, comfort, and money.

This article explains what teeth bleaching does and why it is so effective. I hope that after reviewing this information you’ll be able to better evaluate whether you can benefit from teeth whitening and bleaching treatments.

Teeth whitening and bleaching procedures brighten the dental enamel—this is the hard, white outer surface of the tooth. Beneath the enamel is a surface of darker dentin, and below that is a hollow space filled with nerves, blood vessels and tissue—this is the dental pulp. When patients are young they have white teeth, because their dental enamel is strong and free from stains. However, as we age the shade of our teeth can change for a variety of reasons:

  • Age—as teeth age, dental enamel becomes thinner. This causes more of the dentin to show through, causing teeth to take on a darker appearance.
  • Food and Drink—certain substances can stain dental enamel over time. Richly colored berries and red wine can discolor enamel. Popular drinks like coffee, tea, and soda can also stain teeth.
  • Permanently embedded stains—certain conditions can cause discoloration and abnormalities in dental enamel. Dental fluorosis (caused by excess fluoride consumption) and tetracycline staining (caused by the antibiotic tetracycline) both cause irreversible staining that is embedded in the dental enamel, and therefore resistant to many teeth whitening procedures.

For many patients, teeth bleaching is effective for brightening dental enamel. Teeth bleaching utilizes hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth. These treatments can be formulated for in-office and at-home use by your dentist. Our Kirkwood cosmetic dentists, for example, offer professional in-office teeth bleaching treatments and then formulate at-home treatments so that you can maintain your results at home.

Sometimes professional teeth bleaching treatments cannot effectively whiten permanently embedded stains—such as those from fluorosis and tetracycline staining. When this is the case, many patients benefit from other cosmetic treatments such as porcelain veneers and Lumineers.

Bright, white teeth can take years off of your smile. This makes sense when we think about it, since young teeth are naturally white because the dental enamel is new, strong, and healthy. Teeth whitening treatments can be completed in just one or two appointments, and they are painless. Some patients may experience some temporary tooth sensitivity after treatment, but this is mild and temporary. Additionally, teeth whitening is considerably less expensive than other cosmetic dentistry options. If you want to learn more about teeth whitening procedures, or discuss your situation in greater detail, feel free to give us a call at (314) 332-1307.