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Are your teeth discolored, dull, or simply not as white as you would like them to be? Have you tried over-the-counter options and felt frustrated by the lack of long-lasting results? A professional whitening treatment could be the perfect solution for brighter, whiter teeth! If you’re curious about what professional whitening treatment entails, keep reading: we’ll answer all of your questions and tell you everything you need to know about this quick, simple procedure.

Why do teeth get discolored?

There are a whole host of reasons why your teeth may be discolored – and sometimes, it may be out of your control. The most common causes for tooth discoloration come from lifestyle choices, such as smoking or chewing tobacco or the foods you eat. Coffee, tea, and wine will stain teeth over time, as will starchy foods such as potatoes and pasta.

Another cause for tooth discoloration is not brushing and flossing often enough. Brushing and flossing each day removes food particles and plaque from your teeth before they set in as stains, helping keep your teeth white and healthy. Skipping your annual cleanings can also make it easier for stains to set in.

In some cases, tooth discoloration will be largely out of your control. Some medications cause staining and tooth discoloration, and medical treatments such as chemotherapy can also contribute to staining. Your genes could also play a role in determining how thick your enamel is, resulting in more durable and whiter teeth. Of course, aging is also a contributing factor: as we age, our enamel naturally becomes weaker, making it easier for staining and discoloration to set in.

Are over-the-counter whitening treatments worth it?

ADA-approved whitening treatments are available at the drugstore, and while they can certainly work for some whitening needs, they do have their limitations. First, over-the-counter treatments (like Crest Whitestrips) typically only treat the front row of teeth, leaving the back rows untreated. Second, they also have much weaker chemistry, making them substantially less powerful than professional whitening treatments.

Over-the-counter whitening treatments could be a good option for minimal or light staining to the front teeth – but if you have deep, set-in stains, they will likely not be powerful enough to make a long-lasting difference.

How does professional whitening work?

The whitening procedure is customized for each patient and their needs, but the process can typically be completed in one or two appointments. Each whitening treatment will take one hour. The process starts with a professional cleaning to ensure that your teeth are free from any built-up tartar or plaque. Then, your dentist applies a whitening compound to your teeth, activated by either a special laser or a lamp. The process is pain-free, quick, and has beautiful, long-lasting results!

Are there any side effects from professional whitening?

The good news is that side effects from professional whitening treatments are very minimal. Some patients may experience increased tooth or gum sensitivity after their appointment. This is normal and should dissipate after a few days. If your mouth feels sensitive for longer than two to three days, contact your dentist and schedule a follow-up appointment.

After your professional whitening treatment, don’t forget to maintain good oral hygiene to ensure that your results last for years to come. Brush and floss your teeth twice per day, and try to avoid foods and beverages that promote staining. Wine, tea, and coffee all frequently lead to stains, so limit your intake as much as possible. Keep in mind that certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, will also promote discoloration (not to mention unhealthy gums). If you are a smoker, quitting is your first step to keeping your teeth white and vibrant after your whitening procedure!

Thinking about getting a professional whitening treatment? Call Steger Smiles today to learn more about the procedure and schedule your appointment!

Be proud of your smile.