What to Know about Teeth Whitening

What to Know about Teeth Whitening

It is important to brush and floss your teeth each day to keep them bright, white, and healthy. Nevertheless, you're not alone if you feel your smile lacks sparkle or is yellower than it used to be. An American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry survey asked many people what they would do to improve their smile, and the most frequent answer was teeth whitening.

Are you thinking about whitening your teeth? Get the facts first. This article will answer five of the most frequently asked questions about teeth whitening. 

Why Do My Teeth Change Color?

Several reasons can cause your teeth to go from white to not-so-white over time, such as: 

Food and Drink

Chromogens (intense color pigments) attach to your tooth's white outer part (enamel) when drinking coffee, tea, and red wine. Therefore, these drinks will leave stains on your teeth.

Tobacco Use

Tar and nicotine are found in tobacco, leaving stains that are hard to eliminate. Tar is dark by nature, and nicotine is colorless until it mixes with oxygen. Then, it changes into a yellow substance that stains your teeth.


Your teeth have a softer layer called dentin underneath the hard, white exterior covering enamel. When you brush your teeth, the outer layer of enamel wears away over time, letting more of the yellowish dentin show.


The color of your teeth can change if you've been hit in the mouth because your teeth respond by laying down the darker layer beneath your enamel.


Antipsychotics, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medications may cause tooth darkening as a side effect. When teeth are developing in young children exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline, either during pregnancy or as infants, the adult teeth may eventually become discolored. Additionally, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy might discolor teeth.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

It is easy to whiten your teeth. Products that whiten teeth contain one of two bleaches (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide). These bleaches break up stains into small pieces. Therefore, they spread the color of the stain and make your teeth whiter.

Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?

No, and that's why you should talk to your dentist before you decide to whiten your teeth since whiteners may not work on all kinds of stains. For example, bleaching will probably work well on yellow teeth, but it might not work well on brown teeth, and it might not work at all on gray teeth. Whitening won't work on crowns, fillings, veneers, or caps. In addition, it won't work if your teeth are stained because of medicine or an injury to a tooth.

What Are My Whitening Options?

Talk to your dentist before starting. Here are four ways you can restore your smile's shine if you are a candidate:

Stain Removal Toothpaste

All kinds of toothpaste have mild abrasives that scrub the teeth and help get rid of stains on the surface. Look for an ADA seal of Acceptance for whitening toothpaste for stain removal. These toothpastes have extra polishing ingredients that are safe for your teeth and eliminate stains. These ADA-Accepted products don't change the color of teeth like bleaches do because they only get rid of stains on the surface.

In-Office Bleaching

Chairside bleaching usually only takes one visit to the dentist. He will protect your gums with a gel or a rubber shield. Bleach is then applied to the teeth.

At-Home Bleaching from Your Dentist

If you prefer at-home whitening, your dentist can provide you with a custom-made tray. Your dentist will explain when and how to use the bleaching solution. It may be a preferable option for those who feel more comfortable whitening at home with a dentist's guidance at a slower pace. At-home bleaching can range from a few days to a few weeks.

Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products

Different options are available online or in grocery stores, such as toothpaste or strips that bleach your teeth. These products contain lower bleaching agent concentrations than your dentist would use in the office. Check for the ADA Seal of Acceptance if you plan to use an over-the-counter bleaching kit. It means it has been tested for safety and effectiveness.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Some people can experience tooth sensitivity after using teeth whiteners. The whitener's peroxide irritates your tooth's nerve when it gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin. 

Most of the time, the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay the treatment and then try again later. Tooth enamel and gums can also be damaged by overusing whiteners.

Follow directions carefully and consult your dentist before using tooth whiteners.