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 4 Tips to Extend Professional Teeth Whitening Results

Mar 02, 2024
There are several reasons for tooth discoloration, and when brushing your teeth isn’t enough to brighten them, tooth whitening is. And if you’ve had this treatment done, let’s look at how to keep those pearly whites shining.

The color of your teeth is the result of the connection between two layers in each of them: the enamel that covers the whole tooth and the dentin that lies just underneath (which is more yellow than white). The natural color is often actually closer to a pale yellow or off-white, but there are a plethora of infections, diseases, and other conditions that can lead to the color of teeth changing. Proper dental care, like brushing and flossing, is important both for removing plaque and other substances that can hurt them and can be useful for keeping healthy teeth lighter in color. 

To actually treat tooth discoloration, professional teeth whitening can help to give you a brighter smile. Once you’ve had this, however, there is still work to do to keep them as white as possible. So, to look at some ways of keeping teeth their brightest after treatment, let’s examine the reasons people get these treatments, the process itself, and the steps you can take to preserve the finish for as long as possible.

If you live in the Sacramento, California, area and you’re embarrassed by discolored teeth, Dr. Peter Kim and his dedicated team at Sierra Oaks Dental can help get your teeth their whitest.

Reasons for getting your teeth whitened

Changes in tooth color are due to either changes in the external part of the tooth (extrinsic discoloration) or damage that is done inside the tooth (intrinsic discoloration). External problems are often due to stains from the foods and drinks we eat, aging, poor oral hygiene, and tobacco use, which causes it to stay an unpleasant shade of yellow. 

Internal problems that can change tooth color include injuries to the tooth, tooth decay, a range of illnesses (celiac disease, liver disease, calcium deficiencies), certain medications, dental procedures, and even chemotherapy. Any one of these can contribute to discoloration that needs whitening.

The teeth whitening process

To get professional teeth whitening done, we start by recording your teeth's current color to determine the materials needed over what period. Your teeth are then cleaned with materials to clean plaque away before applying any whitening, using pumice and other grainy materials. Gauze is then used to keep your mouth dry, and retractors may be used to keep your tongue, lips, and cheeks away from the solution used in the procedure. 

Next, the front of your teeth has the whitening solution applied, often using carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent. Then, the whitening is activated using a laser, and the solution is left on your teeth (times differ, but it can be up to an hour). When we reach the desired color, the solution is rinsed away, and fluoride may be applied if there is any sensitivity due to the procedure.

What you can do to make the results last

Once this is done and you have the color you want for your teeth, the real work of keeping them white begins. Here are some basic tips to maintain your new, bright smile:

1. Hygiene tips

Dental care is essential to maintaining teeth, so continue brushing twice daily and flossing at least once to keep teeth clean. Chewing sugar-free gum and rinsing with water after eating can also help.

2. Use a whitening toothpaste

When brushing teeth, whitening toothpaste can help maintain the finish from your treatment until your next visit.

3. Foods to eat

Milk is a drink that can help teeth whiten and provide calcium for dental strength. Other foods that can keep teeth from discoloring include pineapples, strawberries, and papaya, though rinsing them with water afterward will help to reduce the acid some of these produce.

4. Foods to avoid

Several foods will stain teeth, so try to reduce the amount of coffee, tea, cola, grape juice, or red wine you take in, along with curry, dark berries, and tomato paste.

Getting teeth their whitest is one thing, but if you want them to stay that way, you have to take care of them and visit us regularly for checkups. Make an appointment with Dr. Kim and the team at Sierra Oaks Dental today to keep a brighter smile.