What is teeth whitening/ bleaching?
An estimated ten million Americans will spend a whopping 2 billion dollars on tooth whitening products and services this year to try and achieve that perfect “Hollywood” smile. Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic service provided by dentists. There are also a growing number of over-the-counter teeth whitening products available as well. Teeth whitening is a way to reverse the signs of age in teeth, and remove the years of cumulative stain from coffee, wine, soda, teriyaki sauce, tomato sauce, etc. These unsightly stains can be removed quickly, safely, and with minimal discomfort utilizing In-Office whitening systems, custom home trays, and over-the-counter products. You should first have a dental exam to find out which treatment, or combination of treatments is right for you.
Why Teeth Whitening?
For Special Events
Deep Teeth Whitening – Supriya
This is the term used when combining one or more dental treatments to enhance the appearance of your smile.
- In-chair teeth whitening generally involves the application of a whitening.
- Take-home teeth whitening requires a set of custom made trays to fit your teeth.
- Factors such as smoking, poor oral hygiene and diet can affect the longevity of the results.
Do Whitening toothpastes, rinses, flosses and chewing gums actually work?
Over-the-counter whitening products such as the whitening toothpastes, rinses, flosses and whitening chewing gums are relatively ineffective at best, and some of these whitening pastes can be very abrasive, and actually cause damage to the enamel. Brushing with whitening toothpaste removes the extrinsic stains by mechanical means; little to no change in color actually takes place. The ‘whitening’ is deceiving on these products, because if it rubs off a little extrinsic stain, does that mean the teeth have been whitened? You need a bleaching agent, such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, in order to intrinsically whiten the teeth. These agents must remain in contact with the enamel for a certain period of time in order to be effective. Even toothpastes that claim to have these agents are not very effective, because they have a mild concentration of peroxide, and they are not in contact for a long enough duration to make any difference.
Is whitening safe? Does Whitening harm your tooth’s enamel?
Teeth bleaching has proven to be a safe and effective way of achieving a more youthful and healthy-looking smile. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) has lent its support and approval for enhancing the esthetics of one’s smile via in-office and home bleaching, and has given its Seal of Approval to a number of whitening systems. The safety and effectiveness of this procedure is directly related to the dosage given, the frequency and duration of treatment, the concentration and type of the material used, and the type of tray or system utilized. Like anything else, it can be abused, and cause adverse results. During the time that you whiten, the fluoride-rich layer of the enamel is broken down and the teeth become more porous, making them more susceptible to the acids and sugars in your mouth. Within 24-48 hours your tooth’s enamel will re-mineralize and build up that protective fluoride-rich layer again. If you become a whitening junkie, and never give your enamel the chance to re-mineralize, then you can cause long term adverse effects to your teeth.
Who are the best candidates for teeth whitening?
If your teeth are discolored by the natural process of aging, the prognosis for a beautiful, youthful smile is excellent. Individuals with yellower teeth will typically have a more dramatic result than those with teeth that are grayer in color. Individuals with a more even toned layer of enamel will have a much more predictable result than those with tetracycline stains or white spot formations. The best candidates are those who are whitening their own natural tooth structure. Those patients with restorations of any type, within or covering their tooth structure (i.e. bonding, fillings, veneers, crowns, etc.), must realize that those areas will not whiten. They may choose to still undergo a whitening procedure, but with the understanding that they may require a new restoration in order to match the newly whitened shade.
Do I need to see my dentist first for a cleaning and exam before scheduling a whitening session?
Yes. It is imperative that one’s dentist performs a proper examination and diagnosis, in order to identify abscessed teeth, existing cavities, internal or external resorption, and other pathological problems before bleaching. Your dentist can help you to prevent the “corn-on-the-cob” effect (yellow tooth, white tooth, yellow tooth, etc.), by pointing out which of your teeth have restorations that will not whiten. A cleaning may be indicated to remove the plaque, tartar and extrinsic stains so that the whitening solutions can reach the tooth surface. A full series of x-rays and a detailed dental history should also help to determine if someone is more prone to having sensitive teeth.
I have whitened my teeth before, but it doesn’t look like those actors on TV. What are they doing to get their teeth so white?
Chances are you are looking at porcelain veneers, which are thin, porcelain “shells” that get permanently bonded to the front surface of your tooth. These veneers can eliminate large gaps between teeth, esthetically correct crowded and rotated teeth, and whiten one’s smile to their desired shade.
What things should I avoid doing after whitening and for how long?
Avoid anything that can stain a white T-shirt, such as red wine, coffee, tea, cola, teriyaki sauce, tomato sauce, etc. Stay bland in color, and also try to have everything closer to room temperature to avoid sensitivity. Within 24 hours from when you completed your last whitening session, the pores of your teeth close, and that fluoride-rich layer will start to build again protecting the enamel. Once this happens you may have whatever you wish. Remember that stain is cumulative, and the more bland the diet, the longer lasting are the effects before you may require another whitening session.
Does everyone get sensitivity when they whiten their teeth? And how long does the sensitivity last once you get it?
Some patients may experience sensitivity throughout the treatment; others may not experience any sensitivity at all. Usually any sensitivity one may experience ceases within 24 hours from the termination of treatment. Older teeth have less sensitivity due to the nerves within the tooth becoming less prominent and migrating farther away from the outside surfaces. People with gum recession and root exposure may have more sensitivity due to the bleaching agents coming in contact with those exposed surfaces.