Teeth whitening is one of the most common procedures in cosmetic dentistry. You can whiten both natural and artificial teeth. Several products are available over the counter to whiten your teeth. They come in the form of toothpastes, gels and strips. These treatments can usually get your teeth 2 - 3 shades whiter, but cannot provide significant whitening. To achieve to best results you must visit your dentist for an in-office whitening treatment.
Your dentist has access to teeth whitening products that are not available over the counter. Some of these products may require expensive industrial equipment, such as directed UV lights and whitening lasers, that are not available to you for home use. Care must be taken during these procedures to prevent you from swallowing the tooth whitening products or prevent the lights or lasers from damaging other areas of your body. Professional teeth whitening product provide dramatic results that are only available from your cosmetic dentist.
If your teeth have other problems beyond normal staining, such as permanent staining from medications or lost enamel, regular teeth whitening may not work. In this case, porcelain veneers offer an alternative to traditional teeth whitening. Veneers are thin porcelain caps that fit over the tooth. They look and act just like natural teeth. Porcelain veneers can also correct some other issues with teeth, such as teeth that are too short, too long or too narrow. The veneers are fairly expensive, but your dentist may have payment options available.
Another more advanced treatment that is not as expensive as veneers is bonding. Bonding is performed during a single visit. A plastic resin the is applied to the teeth and shaped to create a natural appearance. A good cosmetic dentist can make bonded teeth look just like real teeth. The resin is colored to either match surrounding teeth or to make the teeth whiter. Bonding is not as strong as your natural enamel, so care must be taken to avoid wearing it away or chipping it. You should avoid biting or chewing on things like fingernails, pencils and other objects that may wear away the resin.
No matter what method is used to whiten your teeth, you must take care to maintain it for a lasting result. Both your natural teeth and any artificial materials like veneers are susceptible to further staining. Avoid activities that could promote staining, such as drinking coffee or smoking. If you do engage in these activities, brush your teeth immediately afterwards. You can also use over the counter whitening toothpastes to help prolong your teeth whitening results.