Your Ultimate Guide to Teeth Whitening

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Advice

Are your pearly whites a little less pearly than they once were? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Almost everyone experiences some degree of tooth discoloration over their lifetime. In fact, about 80% of Americans struggle with stained teeth and wish their smile was whiter.

Over years and decades, our teeth change color and lose their brightness. This is due to natural aging, tartar and plaque buildup, and the consumption of pigmented foods and drinks, among other factors. Stained teeth can take a toll on your self-confidence and even impact how and when you smile.

Fortunately, there are a variety of proven ways to get whiter teeth.

What causes tooth discoloration?

Stained, yellow, or otherwise discolored teeth are caused by a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including the following:

  • Foods and drinks: Tea, coffee, sodas, wines, and certain starch-based foods like pasta and potatoes can stain teeth over time.
  • Tobacco use: Both smoking and chewing tobacco are known to discolor teeth.
  • Aging: Naturally over time, enamel slowly wears away to reveal yellow dentin, which also grows as you age.
  • Poor dental hygiene: Skipping professional teeth cleanings or forgetting to brush or floss your teeth daily can cause stains to build up.
  • Disease: Discoloration can be caused by certain metabolic diseases, calcium deficiency, celiac disease, liver disease, rickets, eating disorders, among others.
  • Medications: Both over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines can lead to tooth discoloration, while some antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline can negatively impact enamel formation in developing children.
  • Medical treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause teeth to change color.
  • Genetics: Some folks are genetically predisposed to thinner and less-white enamel.
  • Trauma: When children younger than 8 sustain a facial injury, the damage can disrupt enamel formation. Adult trauma can also discolor teeth if the injury reduces blood flow in the area.

What is teeth whitening?

Your teeth are important. Almost half of adults believe that a smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone — even more important than what they say. It’s no surprise that people look for ways to achieve a whiter and more radiant smile.

The goal of any teeth whitening method is to remove surface stains from your teeth to improve the appearance of your smile. There are many different techniques and products designed to achieve this goal — from toothpaste and white strips to in-office lasers and professional whitening trays. 

Keep in mind that patients have different types of stains and some people experience more tooth sensitivity than others. To identify the right whitening method for your teeth, visit Dr. Catt for a professional consultation.

DIY teeth whitening

There are a variety of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter products that can have an effect on teeth stains and discoloration. These include the following:

Avoiding stain-causing foods, drinks, and other products

If you’re concerned about tooth yellowing or staining, try to limit the amount of tea, coffee, red wine, and starch-based food products you eat. Avoid all tobacco products and consider the side effects of any medications you’re taking that may discolor your teeth.

Practicing proper and consistent dental hygiene

By using correct brushing and flossing techniques and visiting Dr. Catt’s office for regular dental cleanings and exams, you can prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque on your teeth over time. This will help keep your teeth free of stains and discoloration.

Using over-the-counter whitening products

There are a variety of whitening products available in grocery stores and pharmacies that you can purchase and use without a prescription. These include stick-on whitening strips, tooth-shaped trays, toothpaste, gums, and more. While these products are not as effective as professional teeth whitening procedures, they can help you maintain a white smile between treatments.

Professional whitening treatments

While some tooth staining can be prevented with lifestyle changes and DIY treatments, tooth discoloration is also part of the natural aging process. Genetics, medical treatments, certain medications, and trauma can also cause discoloration. Professional teeth whitening is by far the most effective way to whiten your teeth and achieve a more radiant smile. Here’s how we do it:

Laser teeth whitening

Laser treatments are proven to be effective in whitening teeth. We’re proud to offer our patients advanced Biolase teeth whitening treatments, and we stand by their efficacy.

This in-office procedure involves applying professional-grade whitening gel to each individual tooth. This gel is then activated by a powerful laser. The heat generated by the laser breaks up even the deepest and most stubborn stains, which enhances the overall whitening effect and makes the procedure faster.

Our professional laser treatments yield immediate results. You’ll see a whiter smile right away! Depending on your level and type of discoloration, you may need more than one treatment to reach your desired shade. Prior to the procedure, you’ll have a whitening consultation with Dr. Catt. We’ll answer all your questions and ensure you understand what to expect.

Professional take-home whitening trays

Not all professional whitening has to take place in a dental office. We also offer highly effective at-home teeth whitening treatments. The process involves taking home a set of professional teeth whitening trays, which are made custom to fit your mouth perfectly.

On a daily basis, you’ll fill these trays with a professional-grade whitening gel and wear them for 1 hour. Using this method, you’ll start to see results in as little as 3 at-home treatments, and you’ll achieve maximum results after 2 weeks of daily use.

This option is great if you have only minor teeth discoloration or if you’re looking for a super-convenient alternative. It’s also a wonderful way to supplement in-office laser treatments and maintain your whitened teeth on a continued basis.

Comprehensive, compassionate dental care in Medford, OR

Our approach to dentistry is focused on providing the highest level of care while making sure you feel comfortable. Over his 20+ years of experience, Dr. Catt has built a reputation for patient-centered care that’s both high-tech and personalized. 

We provide gentle cleanings, informative and individualized exams and consultations, and high-quality professional treatments‚ including teeth whitening! We also accept a range of payment options and work with a variety of insurance providers to ensure your treatment is affordable and accessible.

Dr. James Catt

Dr. James Catt

Dr. Catt graduated from Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) in 1997 and through his personalized and high-tech approach, has since become one of the most trusted dentists in the Rogue Valley. Dr. Catt is a member and past president of the Oregon Dental Association and is involved in the American Dental Association and Southern Oregon Dental Society. He’s also received recognition from the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists for his exceptional professional achievements, exemplary service, and dedication to the continued progress of dentistry.