Thinking about teeth whitening? Get the facts.

Your teeth can go from bright white to not-so-bright and you may be considering talking with your dentist about professional whitening. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, tooth whitening is one of the most frequently requested dental procedures by the public.

Teeth whitening is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of your natural teeth enamel. Teeth whitening is not permanent and a touch-up may be needed every few years, and more often if you use tobacco products or drink coffee or tea.

Brushing and flossing are everyday ways to keep your teeth bright white and healthy. Over time, your teeth can lose their sparkle for a number of reasons:

What you eat and drink

Staining culprits such as pasta sauce, berries and seasonings like curry can leave your teeth yellowed and dull. Acids and pigments in these types of foods can cling to your teeth. Coffee, tea and sodas are top teeth-staining drinks.

Tobacco use

Chemicals in tobacco products have a yellowish, surface-staining substance.


As we age, the outer enamel of our teeth gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin (the darker layer under the tooth enamel) can show through.


Many medications can cause tooth darkening.

Injury to your teeth

Teeth can react to injuries to your mouth by producing more dentin.

It’s important to consult your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), whitening products contain special bleaches that break stains into smaller pieces, which makes the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter. Whitening products may not work well on crowns, fillings and other dental work. It may be less effective depending on the color of your teeth – yellow, brown or gray tones.

Your dentist can recommend the best option for you which may include stain removal toothpaste or an over-the-counter bleaching product. Your dentist may also recommend in-office bleaching or at-home bleaching with custom-made trays and bleaching solution provided by the dentist. Some people may experience tooth sensitivity from bleaching. The ADA cautions that overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas DentalPlus and DentalPlus PPO plans for individuals offers a teeth whitening benefit. See the details here.

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