Learn more about the process and benefits of teeth whitening.

Teeth whitening is the most popular form of cosmetic dentistry. For a growing number of Americans, it is an important piece of the picture for their overall dental care regimen. The popularity of teeth whitening doesn’t have much to do with its effects on dental health. Rather, patients see the benefits of having a bright, white smile.

Statistics show a direct link between a beautiful, white smile and success in life, professionally and personally. In this in-depth study, individuals with a white smile were deemed 68% more professionally successful, 64% financially successful, and 52% more trustworthy. Related studies prove that smiling often is another major factor in success. It makes sense. You’ll be more apt to share a bright smile you feel confident showing off.

If you’ve been thinking about getting your teeth whitened or finding a new whitening treatment option, here are some popular questions and answers.

1. What are the benefits of getting my teeth whitened in-office?

In-office teeth whitening is safer for your enamel and more effective at getting the whiteness level you want compared to store-bought whitening kits. In-office whitening treatments also yield very bright results after one application. It may take weeks of using a potentially damaging store-bought kit to achieve the desired results.

Some dental offices, like Allred Family Dentistry, offer professional at-home kits that are just as effective as in-office services but with the convenience of whitening at home. These types of kits are a fantastic solution for busy patients who might not have the time in their schedule for in-office whitening appointments.

2. How often do I need to whiten my teeth after the first treatment?

Once your desired brightness level is achieved, you likely won’t need to touch-up your smile for at least a year or even longer. This really comes down to your oral care and lifestyle habits. For example, if you smoke or drink a lot of coffee or wine, you may only want to wait six months or so before touching up.

During your normal six-month checkups and cleaning with your dentist, feel free to ask them how your teeth are looking.  They can tell you if it’s time for another whitening session.

3. What are the pros and cons of at-home whitening with store-bought kits?

At-home whitening with a store-bought kit or strips is popular for its convenience and low-cost. The ADA has even given its Seal of Acceptance to specific whitening products. At-home whitening isn’t inherently bad, but they do have some cons to them.

For one, it’s easy to overuse an at-home whitening product. This may damage your teeth, either through enamel damage or painful sensitivity. Some individuals may find the strength to be too much for their teeth while others may find they aren’t effective at whitening.

By visiting your dentist for in-office treatments or professional at-home kit, you’ll be ensuring you get the best results possible quickly and with minimal sensitivity.

4. What’s the difference between bleaching, stain-lifting, and whitening?

People often use the terms bleaching, stain-lifting, and whitening interchangeably. Technically, there are some differences though.

As the name suggests, stain-lifting is the act of lifting stains off the teeth. This occurs during whitening as well as bleaching. Whitening is the process of removing discoloration and getting teeth back to their natural white color. Bleaching is a more in-depth whitening process that gets teeth beyond a natural white color. Many dentists use the term ‘whitening’ to describe both processes.

5. What should I do if my teeth are sensitive after whitening?

Using your dentist’s recommended products and following their instructions will greatly minimize sensitivity post-whitening. If you do still experience some sensitivity after whitening, try to avoid hot and cold food items as well as very sweet or acidic/sour foods. You can also switch to an ADA-recommended toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity from whitening is generally temporary. If you’re experiencing lasting sensitivity or pain, stop whitening and contact your dentist. If you’re experiencing only minor sensitivity, it’s still a good idea to let your dentist know in case your whitening schedule or product needs to be changed.

6. Is charcoal tooth whitening better than traditional options?

Charcoal tooth whitening products have been trending, but studies show that they aren’t nearly as effective as various brands make them out to be. In fact, charcoal whitening toothpaste can even permanently damage and discolor teeth. This occurs when the abrasive nature of the gritty charcoal wears away enamel, allowing the product to darken the inner dentin layer.

The initial stain removal you may see with these products is misleading as it isn’t so much that your teeth are getting whiter, but rather your enamel is being stripped away past the stained layer. Enamel loss is permanent and therefore dental authorities strongly recommend avoiding these products.

7. Can I still get my teeth whitened if I have a cavity?

If you have existing dental problems, like tooth decay, you should take care of these problems before you whiten your teeth. Whitening products are very strong, and if the gel product gets into a cavity, it can seriously damage the tooth as well as lead to a nasty toothache.

8. Should I get my teeth whitened before or after a new crown?

It’s a good idea to get healthy teeth whitened to your desired brightness level before getting crowns and similar procedures, like veneers. The materials crowns and veneers are made of can’t be whitened like your natural teeth. By getting your teeth whitened first, your dentist will color-match your new crown or veneers to your ideal smile.

If you’ve been thinking about whitening and have an upcoming appointment for crowns or veneers, be sure to let your dentist know right away.

Take the first step towards a stunning white smile by booking an appointment with Allred Family Dentistry.

At Allred Family Dentistry, we use the Opalescence tooth whitening system for our patients. This is an at-home professional whitening system that outperforms store-bought at-home whitening options. You can expect incredible results after just one week of nightly use.

Your kit will come with a special tray for your teeth, a prescription-strength whitening gel, and clear, detailed instructions on how to use the product. During your appointment, your dentist will go over these instructions with you and answer any other questions you might have.

Although the Allred Dentistry team is currently performing only urgent dental work due to COVID-19, we still welcome patients interested in teeth whitening to contact us to book a future appointment. If you’ve already been using Opalescence, we can help you get a refill if you’ve run out of gel or misplaced your tray.