Many toothpaste makers also sell over-the-counter teeth whitening strips to help make your smile dazzle. If you have severe discoloration, these strips may not give you the results you're after. That's when professional teeth whitening may cross your mind, so here are some things you should know.
Your teeth are equipped with an enamel surface that's designed to protect your teeth from the effects of coffee, smoking, wine, and aging. Over the years though, your enamel begins to wear down so it becomes more transparent, and the yellowish color of dentin (your tooth's core) begins to show through. Also with time, tiny cracks form in the enamel that allows debris and stains to sink in, which adds to the dull, grayish color.
When you have your teeth professionally whitened, the stains and debris are removed but the cracks will still remain. That means eventually your teeth will need to be whitened again to get that same desired white smile. People choose this option instead of over-the-counter whitening products because dentists have access to high-concentration peroxide gel, so you can achieve better results in a shorter amount of time. To find out what the risks of teeth whitening are read more.
The downside to professional whitening is that this stronger whitening formula can also cause extreme tooth sensitivity and gum irritation (which can last up to a month), not to mention it's much more expensive (around $650 per dentist visit). Depending on how stained your teeth are and how they respond to the gel, it may take several visits to acquire the whiteness you're after. Plus if you have crowns or porcelain veneers, the whitening won't affect them, so you could end up with what dentists call technicolor teeth (multi-colored teeth).
Fit's Tip: Experts say that teeth whitening is safe, as long as the products are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). If you're considering professional teeth whitening, it's best to chat with your dentist about your options.