Teeth whitening is one of the most popular types of cosmetic dentistry, allowing you to whiten your teeth several shades to brighten your smile and boost your self-esteem. If you are like many people, you were led to professional teeth whitening due to disappointing results from at-home treatments like trays, gels, toothpastes and strips. Although these may work for some people, they are not able to produce the results of a professional treatment.

I take great care of my teeth. Why are they discolored?

It is normal for adults to have some degree of discoloration on their teeth over time. Some possible reasons include:

  • Consuming dark-colored drinks like coffee or tea.
  • Smoking tobacco. The nicotine found in tobacco has a yellowing effect on teeth over time.
  • Certain medications. For example, some antidepressants and antibiotics are known to stain teeth.

Since it is known that certain lifestyle choices have a tendency to discolor teeth, it is important to understand that even after a professional teeth whitening treatment, your teeth can again become stained if you take up these habits again.

Alternatives to Teeth Whitening

One possible alternative to teeth whitening is getting porcelain dental veneers. This is particularly true if you also have any cosmetic defects in your teeth like minor chips or cracks.

Porcelain veneers are normally placed over the course of two dental appointments. In your first dental appointment, your dentist will remove a small amount of tooth enamel and may place temporary veneers after creating a mold of your teeth. This mold is sent to a lab that uses it to create your porcelain veneers, which are placed at a follow-up appointment.

How does a dentist whiten teeth?

If you are looking for an in-office treatment, you can:

  • Have a mold created of your teeth that is used to create a customized tray in which a bleaching agent will be placed, remaining in contact with your teeth for a few weeks.
  • Laser whitening is another method that can be used to whiten teeth. Your dentist will paint a bleaching agent onto your teeth, using a strong laser to activate its whitening properties. This can take up to one hour.
  • A protective gel can be applied to your gums to protect them from bleaching. Next, a bleaching agent is applied to the teeth. This type of whitening should only take one dental appointment.