Having a bright and white smile is something that most people desire. However, several factors can cause teeth discoloration, making it challenging to achieve that perfect smile. The most common causes of teeth discoloration are aging, smoking, and consuming certain foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, and red wine. Additionally, some medical conditions and medications can also cause teeth discoloration.
Teeth discoloration can occur both on the surface of the teeth and deep within the tooth. Surface discoloration is caused by external factors such as smoking and consuming certain foods and drinks. This type of discoloration can usually be removed by teeth whitening treatments. However, deep discoloration occurs when the enamel of the tooth becomes thin and the dentin underneath is exposed.
This type of discoloration is more challenging to treat and may require more than one teeth whitening session.
Fortunately, teeth whitening treatments are available to help improve the appearance of your teeth. But before you decide on the number of sessions you’ll need, it’s essential to understand the different types of teeth whitening treatments available.
Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments
Several teeth whitening treatments are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of teeth whitening treatments include:
In-Office Teeth Whitening
In-office teeth whitening is a professional teeth whitening treatment that’s performed by a dentist. This treatment is done in a single visit and uses a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide gel to whiten the teeth. The dentist may use a light or laser to activate the gel, speeding up the whitening process.
In-office teeth whitening is the most effective teeth whitening treatment and can whiten teeth by up to eight shades. However, it’s also the most expensive option and may require more than one session depending on the severity of the discoloration.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
At-home teeth whitening treatments are an affordable and convenient option for those who want to improve the appearance of their teeth. These treatments usually involve using a tray or strips containing a lower hydrogen peroxide gel concentration than in-office treatments.
At-home teeth whitening treatments can take longer to achieve the desired results than in-office treatments. However, they’re still effective and can whiten teeth by up to six shades. At-home treatments may require multiple sessions, depending on the severity of the discoloration.
Factors That Affect the Number of Whitening Sessions Needed
The number of teeth whitening sessions you’ll need will depend on several factors, including the current shade of your teeth, the type of whitening treatment you choose, and your individual goals.
Current Shade of Your Teeth
The current shade of your teeth will significantly determine the number of teeth whitening sessions you’ll need. If your teeth are only slightly discolored, you may be able to achieve the desired results with a single in-office treatment or a few at-home treatments. However, if your teeth are severely discolored, you may need multiple in-office treatments or a more extended period of at-home treatment.
Type of Whitening Treatment
The type of teeth whitening treatment you choose will also affect the number of sessions you’ll need. In-office treatments are more potent than at-home treatments and can achieve faster results. However, they’re also more expensive and may require more than one session, depending on the severity of the discoloration.
At-home treatments are a more affordable option, but they can take longer to achieve the desired results. You may need to use the trays or strips daily for several weeks to achieve the desired results.
Finally, your individual goals will also play a role in determining the number of teeth whitening sessions you’ll need. If you’re looking for a subtle improvement in the appearance of your teeth, you may only need one or two in-office treatments or a few at-home treatments. However, if you’re looking for a dramatic improvement, you may need several in-office treatments or an extended period of at-home treatment.
Recommended Number of Sessions for Each Treatment
The recommended number of teeth whitening sessions will vary depending on the type of treatment you choose and the severity of the discoloration.
In-Office Teeth Whitening
For in-office teeth whitening, most dentists recommend a single treatment that lasts between 30-60 minutes. However, if your teeth are severely discolored, you may need additional treatments to achieve the desired results. Your dentist can provide a more accurate estimate of the number of sessions you’ll need based on your individual case.
At-Home Teeth Whitening
For at-home teeth whitening treatments, you’ll typically need to use the trays or strips daily for 30 minutes to an hour for several weeks. Depending on the brand, most at-home treatments come with enough product for 10-20 treatments.
Tips to Maximize Your Whitening Results
Regardless of the type of teeth whitening treatment you choose, there are several tips you can follow to maximize your results.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for achieving optimal teeth whitening results. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to remove any plaque or food particles that can cause discoloration.
Avoid Staining Foods and Drinks
Avoid consuming foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, and red wine. If you do consume these drinks, rinse your mouth with water afterward to help reduce the risk of discoloration.
Follow the Instructions Carefully
Follow the instructions carefully when using at-home teeth whitening treatments. Using too much product or leaving the trays or strips on for too long can damage your teeth and gums.
Consider a Touch-Up Treatment
Consider getting a touch-up treatment every six months to maintain your white smile. Touch-up treatments are quick and easy and can help keep your teeth looking bright and white.
Maintaining Your White Smile After Treatment
After completing your teeth whitening treatment, it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene to keep your teeth looking bright and white. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, and avoid consuming foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. Consider using a whitening toothpaste to help maintain your results.
Risks and Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
While teeth whitening treatments are generally safe, there are some risks and side effects to be aware of.
Tooth sensitivity is the most common side effect of teeth whitening. This occurs when the peroxide gel used in the treatment penetrates the enamel and reaches the dentin, causing sensitivity. Sensitivity usually resolves on its own within a few days.
Gum irritation can occur if the peroxide gel comes into contact with your gums. This can cause redness, swelling, and discomfort. To minimize the risk of gum irritation, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid using too much product.
In rare cases, teeth whitening treatments can cause enamel damage. This can occur if the peroxide gel is left on for too long or if the concentration of the gel is too high. Enamel damage can cause tooth sensitivity and increase the risk of tooth decay.
Alternative Options for Teeth Whitening
If you’re not a candidate for teeth whitening or prefer not to use whitening treatments, alternative options are available.
Veneers are thin shells that are placed over the front of your teeth to improve their appearance. Veneers can be used to cover stains, discoloration, gaps, and chips.
Bonding is a process that uses a tooth-colored resin to fill in gaps and chips and cover stains and discoloration.
Crowns are a more extensive treatment option that involves placing a cap over the entire tooth. Crowns can be used to cover severe discoloration and damage.
Cost of Teeth Whitening Treatments
The cost of teeth whitening treatments will vary depending on the type of treatment you choose and your location. In-office treatments are more expensive than at-home treatments and can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 per session. At-home treatments are more affordable and can cost between $50-$500, depending on the brand.
Teeth whitening is an effective way to improve the appearance of your teeth and boost your confidence. The number of sessions you’ll need will depend on several factors, including the current shade of your teeth, the type of treatment you choose, and your individual goals. Regardless of your treatment, it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene and follow the instructions carefully to maximize your results.
If you’re not a candidate for teeth whitening or prefer not to use whitening treatments, alternative options such as veneers, bonding, and crowns are available.