It’s difficult to feel confident when your smile is less than ideal. Having yellow teeth can make it embarrassing to open your mouth in public and affect the way you interact with others. The emphasis on oral appearance is so common that 60% of Americans aged 18-49 say that a whiter smile would improve their self-confidence.

Fortunately, advances in teeth whitening make it easier than ever to safely whiten yellow teeth. If you have yellow teeth, professional teeth whitening may help you get the bright, white smile you desire.

In this blog, teeth whitening specialist Emanuel Mizrahi, DDS, of Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates in Forest Hills, New York, explains the options for professional teeth whitening and how these procedures work.

Reasons for yellow teeth

Yellow teeth can occur for reasons that may or may not be preventable. The appearance of yellow teeth can result from stains that develop on either the surface or interior components of your teeth.

Extrinsic stains

Extrinsic stains affect your tooth’s outer surface or enamel. These stains can develop over time due to these causes:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Consuming dark-colored foods and beverages, such as coffee, berries, or red wine

Intrinsic stains

Intrinsic stains affect the dentin, which is the layer under your tooth enamel. These stains can occur as a result of the following causes:

  • Fluoride overuse
  • Tooth trauma
  • Some medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy or radiation
  • Genetics
  • Natural aging process

In general, teeth whitening treatments work on extrinsic stains, not intrinsic stains. If you have intrinsic stains, Dr. Mizrah can give you guidance on other options, such as veneers, which cover the surfaces of teeth.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening

There are many off-the-shelf whitening products, such as whitening toothpastes, gel strips, rinses, and whitening trays. And while they may deliver some improvement, these products typically don’t achieve the degree of whitening that most people consider ideal.

This is because the whitening agents in them aren’t as strong as those used by dental professionals. Since over-the-counter products are applied by consumers without professional oversight, product manufacturers limit their strength to levels that won’t damage the teeth and gums if they’re used incorrectly.

Professional teeth whitening

Professional teeth whitening can deliver dramatic and noticeable results for many types of tooth stains. And results can last 6-12 months if you take care of your teeth correctly and avoid dark-colored foods and beverages.

When administered under the direction of a dental professional, professional teeth whitening treatments achieve optimal whitening with minimal risk of adverse effects, such as tooth sensitivity or gum tissue damage. Professional teeth whitening can be administered as an in-office or at-home procedure.

In-office professional teeth whitening

You can safely achieve the most stunning whitening results in the least amount of time with in-office professional teeth whitening. Having your treatment administered in our office ensures proper application and optimal results, because every step is monitored by a dental professional.

These treatments use the highest whitening agent concentrations available, usually between 15-43% hydrogen peroxide. To offset the risk of gum tissue damage, an in-office treatment uses a protective guard or gel over your gums.

The risk of post-treatment tooth sensitivity is reduced by the use of state-of-the-art whitening gels that don’t penetrate your teeth as deeply as previous formulations. These improved professional-grade gels usually contain desensitizing agents, such as fluoride and potassium nitrate to prevent sensitivity.

A professional in-office teeth whitening usually takes about an hour. After your teeth are cleaned to remove bacteria and plaque, the front of each tooth is carefully coated with the whitening agent.

Your treatment may be accelerated by shining an intense light on your exposed teeth. Without the light, it may require more time to achieve optimal results.

You may require more than one session depending on the condition of your stains and your desired degree of whitening.

At-home professional teeth whitening

Professional at-home teeth whitening can dramatically improve your yellow teeth in the privacy of your home. This treatment uses a set of custom-fitted trays to deliver a whitening solution to both the upper and lower arches of your teeth at the same time.

The gel trays are made to snugly fit your teeth. This ensures that the whitening solution reaches every tooth surface, and it also prevents the gel from leaking onto your gum tissue. And while you can get results comparable to in-office whitening, at-home whitening usually takes a number of sessions over a few weeks.

To learn more about your teeth whitening options, book an appointment over the phone with Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates today.