Tooth enamel is an incredibly hard and durable substance, but it has its weaknesses. Among them is the propensity to stain when we eat and drink certain foods and beverages: coffee, tea, red wine, various berries, even Texas’s own Dr. Pepper! Plus, simple aging yellows our teeth. This combination can make our teeth dingy and yellow — it can get to the point where you may subconsciously avoid smiling or otherwise showing your teeth.
The concept behind teeth whitening isn’t all that different than removing stains from laundry. Stains work their way into the enamel, which is somewhat porous. The active ingredients in whitening gels penetrate the enamel and break up the pigment in the stains. Our in-office whitening lightens your teeth anywhere from five to seven shades, depending on your degree of staining.
What causes teeth to become stained?
It may not appear so, but your tooth enamel is unique to you. The color varies slightly for every person. Some enamel starts a little bit darker, and some seems to stain more easily. The good part about this is that most staining occurs in the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth. These stains can be removed with whitening agents.There is another type of staining that occurs in the dentin, the inner portion of the tooth. This staining usually is the result of a drug reaction — tetracycline is the main culprit here — and it cannot be whitened. The way to cover this type of staining is with porcelain veneers, which cover the front portion of the teeth.
These are typical reasons your teeth become stained:
- Foods — Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, even dark chocolate all contain pigments that can make their way into tooth enamel.
- Drinks — Coffee, tea, red wine, darker fruit juices, and cola drinks leave stains.
- Smoking — Nicotine makes the enamel yellow.
- Genes — Darker enamel tones are usually passed on from your parents.
- Drugs — Tetracycline, a popular antibiotic used especially in the 60s, was found to make the dentin in teeth grey. There are now recommendations to not use tetracycline with children due to this problem.
- Fluorosis — If a person has too much fluoride, or if it is ingested, it can cause fluorosis, which stains the teeth a grey color.
How is your in-office whitening done?
Our Whitening For Life Program
When you come to our office for your initial examination and cleaning; we will provide you with custom bleaching trays and materials for a one-time fee of $75. After that, at each six-month preventative cleaning visit, we will provide a complimentary touch-up supply of bleaching gel.
All we ask in return is:
- You keep your six-month preventative visits current. We recommend having your preventative cleanings at least one time every six months and we will give you a one month leeway to schedule while still being eligible for Whitening For Life. Your longtime dental health is our top priority and patients have found that keeping their six-month cleaning appointments current has decreased the amount of dental emergencies. We are happy to provide this extra bonus for our patients who have committed to their dental health.
- Provide at least 48 hours notice if you need to cancel or reschedule an existing appointment. This is needed for us to provide exceptional customer service to all of our customers, especially those who are waiting for an appointment.
In-Office Whitening Compared To At-Home Strips
At Clear Lake Dental Care, our in-office teeth whitening lightens your tooth color from five to seven shades, depending on how stained your teeth are to begin with. Our in-office whitening gel is professional strength; we can use this because our dental hygienists apply it to your teeth. We protect the gums and precisely apply the gel.
At-home strips are inconsistent for a couple of reasons. First, the whitening solution used in the strips is nowhere near as strong as our professional gel. Second, applying the strips to your teeth isn’t easy to do. It can be very difficult to get an even application, as the strips adhere better in some places than others. They can slip. Plus, you can get the gel on your gums. That’s why strips cannot use a stronger concentration in the gel.
Finally, you need to consider how much time you want to invest. Our in-office professional whitening takes about one hour. At home strips take a couple weeks, placing the strips on your teeth for an hour or so every night. Even after that time investment, your teeth won’t be as white in the end as they would be with our in-office treatment.