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First Time Whitening Your Teeth? Here’s What You Need To Know

After hiding your smile behind a mask for so long, you may soon start to realize that your once bright grin is looking discolored and less-than-dazzling. It can be an overwhelming process if you've never whitened your teeth before and knowing which whitening product or method will give you the best results can be daunting.

Choosing the best treatment for brightening your discolored smile can be easy and cost-effective. These are our favorite whitening products and in-office treatments to transform any smile.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Stains

The first step in removing stains and discoloration from your teeth is determining which type of stains you have. These stains should be treated differently, so if you need help, ask your dentist for products that best suit your teeth at your next exam.


Intrinsic refers to whitening the inner part of the tooth, which soaks up hydrogen peroxide gel and causes it to become lighter. When the inner part of the tooth is whitened, the color reflected through the outer enamel of your teeth is lighter, making them appear whiter and brighter.


Removing stains on the surface of your teeth and your enamel is called extrinsic whitening. The stains left behind by smoking, drinking dark-colored beverages, or consuming certain foods can be removed by polishing the surface of your teeth.

Determine the Cause of Your Tooth Stains

When it comes to unsightly, stained teeth, there are a few common culprits that are probably causing your teeth to appear dull and discolored.

Poor Dental Hygiene. 

Bacteria trapped on and in between your teeth cause plaque to build up - especially if you aren't brushing your teeth after indulging in specific foods or drinks that are known to stain your enamel.

Smoking and Tobacco Use. 

Tobacco stains tend to affect the outer layer of your teeth and cause them to appear yellow or brown.

What You Eat. 

An easy way to determine if food will stain your teeth is to imagine a clean white t-shirt. If the food you're about to consume would stain the white t-shirt, chances are, it also stains your teeth. The foods that stain your teeth are dark colors, such as dark-colored blueberries or blackberries, pasta sauces, and balsamic vinegar.

What You Drink.

Several different beverages, including coffee, tea, sodas, sports drinks, and wine, can cause stains due to the high acidity levels. Teas of all colors, even white tea, have been shown to stain teeth and erode your natural enamel. Limiting your intake of these beverages that are dark in color and high in sugar will benefit both your oral and overall health.

Age-Related Discoloration. 

As we age, the enamel of our teeth begins to wear down, leaving our teeth more translucent and revealing the porous yellow tissue under the enamel.


Excessive use of fluoride or medications that contain tetracycline can cause dark enamel bands that are hard to lighten at home.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Treatments 

When considering whitening your smile, the first step should be to have a proper dental exam to discover what the cause of your tooth discoloration is. If your teeth require intrinsic whitening, simple at-home whitening kits will not be able to give you the results you desire.

If the surfaces of your teeth are stained from what you've eaten or drink regularly, a simple at-home whitening kit or whitening toothpaste will be able to give you a brighter, whiter smile in about 7-10 days. 

Whiten Teeth By 8 Shades In Just 45 Minutes 

In a rush, or have a big event in a few days?

The most effective and fastest way to whiten your teeth is professional whitening in the Tompkins Dental office. With Zoom® in-office whitening, you can whiten your teeth by as many as eight shades in only 45 minutes. It'sIt's the ideal solution if you want immediate results or don't have time for a home whitening system.

If in-office whitening isn't right for you, you can use another powerful Zoom formula to whiten your teeth at home over a few weeks. The home whitening system includes customized trays and a similar, reduced strength whitening solution. 

Options for home whitening include the DayWhite solution, which you wear for 30 minutes a day for two weeks, or the NightWite solution that you wear for 2-4 hours a day, or overnight for two weeks. Both give you great results, although not quite as dramatic as in-office whitening.

Whitening Dental Work 

If you have dental bonding, porcelain veneers, porcelain crowns, or another form of dental work, you will not be able to change the color of your restorations. Whitening only works on natural enamel, and the dental work will not change its shade.

With proper care, restorations like porcelain veneers can keep your smile bright for up to twenty years. Veneers can collect plaque and tartar buildup the same way your natural teeth do, so it's vital to continue a dental hygiene routine that includes proper brushing and flossing, the right toothpaste, and regular professional cleanings.

To learn more about the best method for whitening your teeth for the first time, contact Tompkins Dental to schedule a whitening consultation.

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