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All You Need To Know About Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening is a dental procedure that falls under cosmetic dentistry.  This procedure is actually one of the most commonly performed cosmetic dental procedures and most dentists will perform this.  Before you have this procedure, you need to know more about it and when it should be used.  

What Is Tooth Whitening?

As the name suggests, tooth whitening is the process of lightening the teeth and removing any discoloration or stains.  Whitening is not generally a one-time procedure, although many people assume it is.  To maintain the brighter color of your teeth, you will need to have the procedure completed from time to time.  The exact number of procedures you will need should be discussed with your dentist. 

When Teeth Whitening Is Recommended

Before you look at teeth whitening, you should consider when you need it and how it helps you.  The first step is understanding how the color of your teeth can be changed.  The top layer of the tooth is called the enamel and the color of your teeth is created by the reflection of light on the enamel.  The thickness and smoothness of the enamel will often be affected by genetics with thinner enamel showing more of the dentin found below it.  

Every day, your enamel is covered by a thin coating or pellicle which picks up stains.  The enamel has pores which will hold the stains picked up throughout the day.  The most common stains come from tobacco, dark-colored drinks such as tea and red wine as well as not taking good care of your teeth.  

Tooth whitening can be used to remove the stains that are held by the enamel which is called extrinsic stains.  It is important to understand this because teeth whitening cannot be used for intrinsic stains.  These are stains that are within the tooth and can be caused by a number of different situations such as exposure to too much fluoride as a child.  

It is also important to note that the success of tooth whitening cannot be guaranteed as many other dental issues can affect this.  If you have cavities, they will need to be treated before any whitening is done.  This is due to the fact that the whitening solution may pass through the cavity and enter the inner parts of your tooth.  Additionally, if you have receding gums, the exposed roots of the teeth cannot be whitened as the solution will not affect them.

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