Tooth whitening, whether performed by a professional or done at home, will lighten your teeth and help to remove stains and discoloration. Since it can greatly improve the appearance of your teeth – and your smile – is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures performed by dentists and prosthodontists.

Whitening is not a one-time procedure. It will need to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the brighter color.

How tooth whitening works

The outer layer of your teeth is called the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentin under it. Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentin to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel also affects the reflection of light and therefore the color.

Every day, a thin coating (pellicle) forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.

The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are:

  • Using tobacco
  • Drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, cola, tea and red wine
  • Not taking good care of your teeth

Aging makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentin becomes darker.

There are two main types of whitening procedures. “Vital whitening” is performed on teeth that have live nerves, while “non-vital whitening” is done on a tooth that has had root-canal treatment and no longer has a live nerve.

Vital Whitening

The most common type of vital tooth whitening uses a gel that is applied directly to the tooth surface. This product contains some form of hydrogen peroxide, which can “bleach” your teeth to make them whiter.

Non-Vital Whitening

Vital whitening may not improve the appearance of a tooth that has had root-canal treatment because the stain is coming from the inside of the tooth. If this is the case, your dentist will use a different procedure that whitens the tooth from the inside. He or she will place a whitening agent inside the tooth and put a temporary filling over it.

For more detailed information on tooth whitening, click here.

The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.

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