With a variety of tooth whitening methods available, whitening your teeth has never been more accessible. Are you dreaming of a white smile? Before considering whitening your teeth, complete an appointment for a check-up and cleaning. Surface stains will need to be removed before whitening to achieve optimum results. We can then determine if you are a candidate for tooth whitening and will discuss with you the variety of options available.
Are You a Candidate for Tooth Whitening?
Not everyone can use a tooth whitening product.
Circumstances that may prevent the use of tooth whitening products are:
– Teeth that have restorations – such as veneers or having been bonded with tooth-colored fillings – cannot be whitened with any product including hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, the two most commonly used whitening products. These materials do not whiten past the color they were originally made. The color of these types of restorations were determined by the surrounding teeth. If the surrounding teeth are whitened, the restorations will stand out and look artificial. Replacing old or discolored restorations will allow you to change their appearance.
– Teeth that have internal staining, discoloration from developmental conditions, or have had “root canal treatment” may not be affected by the typical whitening process. Internal tooth whitening or permanent restorations may be options worth considering.
– Natural tooth colors that have a blue or gray hue may not produce anticipated results. Typically, teeth with a yellow or yellow-brown hue will produce the best results. However, teeth which do have a blue or gray hue – and even extremely dark brown teeth – can still be whitened without restorations, although it takes more time and more money than usual to achieve good results.
– Pregnant or nursing mothers should avoid whitening their teeth as there is not enough research to determine the safety of tooth whitening products during pregnancy or lactation, although it is generally accepted as safe.
– People with hypersensitive teeth will experience a significant increase the level of sensitivity, more than someone who has no pre-existing tooth sensitivity, as all whitening causes some transient sensitivity. Nevertheless, with proper guidance and precautions, tooth whitening can still be accomplished.
How Are Teeth Whitened?
Enamel, the first layer of tooth surface, is actually semi-translucent, or clear. The layer underneath the enamel, known as dentin, is typically yellow, but may be gray, brown or black. This hue is what is seen penetrating through the enamel. In order to whiten the dentin, a peroxide solution is placed on the enamel. This process opens the pores of the enamel, allowing the solution to reach the layer of dentin. The solution will then begin to lighten the dentin, resulting in the appearance of whiter teeth.
Several brands of tooth-whitening products are on the market that all promise one thing: noticeable results. Be careful with your choice of these over-the-counter products and their claims. Professional in-office whitening and professional take-home whitening are time-proven and clinically proven to be effective and safe.
It is important to have realistic expectations when deciding to whiten your teeth. Whitening results may not be permanent, as your teeth will naturally pick up stains from a variety of foods, beverages, or tobacco use. Tooth whitening results will vary from person to person, so chose an option that will suit your specific need and budget. And remember that professional dental care is what is really needed to keep teeth and gums their healthiest.