Do you have stained or discolored teeth that you’d like to whiten? We get a lot of questions about teeth whitening because it’s such a popular cosmetic dentistry service. And no wonder! It can make dingy teeth look healthy and new again.

If you want to whiten your teeth, read through these common questions. If you have any others and would like to schedule an appointment, call (509) 532-1111 or schedule an appointment online.

blonde haired woman shows off her bright, white smile

What Causes Discoloration?

A variety of things can cause discoloration. Foods and drinks such as coffee, fruit juice, curry, tomato-based sauces, red wine, and soda can all change the color of your teeth. Or, if you’re experiencing gum disease or tooth decay, your teeth will become discolored. One significant culprit of stained teeth is smoking cigarettes. If you want white teeth, you should quit smoking.

Your enamel is the strongest substance in your body, but it’s not impenetrable. It’s made up of rods comprised of tightly packed oblong crystals. These crystals are 1000 times smaller than the width of a strand of human hair! When your teeth become discolored, these rods and crystals darken.

Why Should I Go to a Dentist for Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening products are available everywhere. You might consider whitening your teeth on your own, without talking to your dentist. However, there are many good reasons to work with your dentist for teeth whitening.

First, a dentist can inspect your teeth to ensure they’re healthy and respond to teeth whitening. Healthy teeth need additional care beyond whitening. Some teeth won’t respond to whitening at all. Talking to a dentist can save you time and money you’d waste trying to whiten those teeth.

A dentist also has access to stronger whiteners. The whiteners dentists use are stronger, so they can provide more dramatic results.

Finally, working with a dentist offers improved safety. Whiteners over the counter are safe and effective when used properly, but that’s not always easy. Working with a dentist ensures you will use your whiteners properly.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

Most discoloration of your teeth is caused by dark organic compounds that get trapped in your enamel. Teeth whitening works to remove these stains. We use peroxide that breaks down the stain molecules, making your teeth bright again.

However, if other causes discolor your teeth, whitening might not work.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

When you choose teeth whitening from your dentist, it’s very safe. It’s safe for your teeth, and it’s safe for your health as long as you follow the directions from your dentist.

Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?

Teeth whitening can make your teeth sensitive in the minutes or hours following your whitening, but the discomfort will fade.

Does Teeth Whitening Work with Crowns?

If you have a crown or two, feel free to whiten the rest of your natural teeth but be aware that the crown will not lighten with teeth whitening. The whitening compound is designed for the structure of natural teeth, not the ceramic that your crown is made of. If your crown has become discolored, it’s likely time for a new crown.

What Kind of Results Can I Expect?

Spokane cosmetic dentists doctors Ken & Marnie Collins, use the Zoom whitening system, which can whiten teeth an average of eight shades.  (The average tube of whitening toothpaste claims to whiten two shades.)  However, if you don’t need such a dramatic change, you can talk with Drs. Ken & Marnie Collins about your preferences.

In addition, you can improve your whitening results using our at-home whitening kit. The only limits to how white your teeth can be are the color and thickness of your natural enamel.

How Long Does It Last?

Lifestyle choices affect the length of time the teeth whitening lasts.  Every person will have different results based on what they choose to eat or drink.  The results can last for up to two years, but if you need six cups of coffee a day to remain functional at work, it won’t last nearly that long.

Fortunately, with the at-home whitening kit we supply, you can maintain your results for life.

Does Insurance Cover Teeth Whitening?

Insurance never covers a cosmetic issue, which is work done simply for appearance.  While the greater confidence you have in your smile might get you a better job or a promotion, teeth whitening still only counts as a cosmetic change.

Why Aren’t My Teeth White Enough?

There are limits to how white your teeth can become based on your personal enamel shade and how thick your enamel is. Enamel comes in different shades of white, and we can only whiten it to its lightest natural shade. If your enamel is thin, you may see the dark-colored pulp beneath the enamel, making your teeth look discolored even if they’re not.

Porcelain veneers are a great option to achieve your desired whiteness in these cases.

How Do I Get Rid of White Spots on My Teeth?

Some people have white spots on their teeth that make them appear splotchy. This is called fluorosis, and it will not go away without intervention from a dentist. In some cases, we can whiten the rest of your tooth to match the color of your fluorosis. However, in other cases, you’ll need to get dental veneers to cover the white spots and make your teeth an even white.

How Do I Whiten My Teeth in Spokane, WA?

Call us at (509) 532-1111 or make an appointment online to whiten your teeth today!