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How Long Does it Take to Whiten Your Teeth?

Tired of looking in the mirror at less-than-pearly whites?

Then you may want to consider a tooth-whitening procedure to help restore the luster to your teeth.

Tooth whitening is the process by which bleach, or another chemical agent, is applied to a person's teeth in order to help remove stains and discoloration, making them appear brighter. This is a procedure which can be done in a dentist's office, or at home using special at-home kits.

But how long does it take to see results? How long does it take to whiten your teeth?

Tooth-whitening products and procedures work best on extrinsic stains - stains which occur on the surface of the tooth. These kinds of stains often are the result of drinking dark-colored liquids for prolonged periods of time, such as coffee, tea, red wine and cola. Heavy tobacco usage also can produce these kinds of stains, as can the aging process. All of these stains can be handled through a tooth-whitening protocol.

However, there are some stains which occur on the inside of the tooth, called intrinsic stains, which cannot be removed through whitening procedures. If your tooth discoloration is caused by an intrinsic stain, do not waste your time or money on tooth-whitening procedures, as they will not produce any improvement in the appearance of your teeth.

Tooth-whitening procedures performed in a dentist's office cost on average $650 per procedure. They use a bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution which is much stronger than what is sold in over-the-counter products, which can make them more effective for stubborn or old stains. With this kind of procedure, patients should experience a lightening of their tooth coloring by four to six shades after just one application. Truly stubborn stains may require two or more procedures to effectively remove.

For those who want to brighten their teeth without emptying their wallets completely, there are many at-home whitening products which produce decent results. Most at-home products use a carbamide peroxide solution that often is pre-applied to strips. Those strips are to be applied to the person's teeth and left on for the period of time designated in the product instructions.

Over-the-counter products cost, on average, $10 to $35, with a few of the advanced products costing over $50. While they are not as immediately effective as whitening procedures at the dental office, they do produce results at a more affordable cost. It can take several applications over the course of a couple of weeks to see results.

If you're not interested in applying strips to your teeth on a nightly basis, or visiting the dentist to have a professional whitening procedure, there are other options you can try that will help to improve the look and feel of your teeth.

While studies have shown that it is not as effective at whitening teeth as bleach and hydrogen peroxide, plain old baking soda can help improve the look of your teeth if used properly. You can add it to your regular toothpaste, or make a paste with just the baking soda and a little water. Use it to brush your teeth for at least two minutes, then rinse thoroughly. While doing this will not make your teeth as white and bright as a bleaching agent, it will slightly lighten the coloration of your teeth with daily use.

No matter which option you choose, remember that tooth whitening procedures are not permanent. They will need to be repeated at least once every 6-12 months in order to maintain your new look.

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