TEETH WHITENING: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Everyone loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours. While many people are happy with the sparkle they get from brushing twice daily with a flouride-containing toothpaste, flossing once a day and regular cleanings at their dentist, some would like to go beyond this and make their smiles look brighter.
Before starting a bleaching treatment, you may want to start by speaking to your dentist. He or she can tell you whether whitening products would be effective for you. Whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellowish hued teeth will probably bleach well, brownish colored teeth may bleach less well, and grayish hued teeth may not bleach well at all. Likewise, bleaching may not enhance your smile if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your front teeth. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials, and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers or dental bonding.
Here are some options for those who are a good candidate for bleaching: In-office bleaching, At-home bleaching and Whitening toothpastes.
What is In-office bleaching?
If you are a candidate for bleaching, your dentist may suggest a procedure that can be done in his or her office. This procedure is called chairside bleaching and may require more than one visit. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to one hour. During chairside bleaching, the dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent. Lasers have been used during tooth whitening to enhance the actions of the whitening agent.
What are some At-home procedures and products?
There are several types of products available for use at home, which can either be dispensed by your dentist or purchased over-the-counter.
Bleaching Solutions: These products contain peroxides, which actually bleach the tooth enamel. These products typically rely on percent carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent. Carbamide peroxide comes in several different concentrations (10%, 16%, 22%).
Peroxide containing whiteners typically come in a gel and are placed in a mouthgard. Usage regimens vary. Some products are used for about twice a day for 2 weeks, and others are intended for overnight use for 1-2 weeks. If you obtain the bleaching solution from your dentist, he or she can make a custom-fitted mouthguard for you that will fit your teeth precisely.
You also may want to speak to your dentist about possible side effects. For example, teeth can become sensitive during the period when you are using the bleaching solution. In many cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft tissue irritation--either from a tray that doesn't fit properly or from solution that may come in contact with the tissues. If you have concerns about such side effects, you should discuss them with your dentist.
Toothpastes: All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. "Whitening" toothpastes in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaching, these ADA Accepted products do not alter the intrinsic color of teeth.
How should I choose a whitening product?
When selecting a whitener or any dental product, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance--it's your assurance that they have met ADA standards of safety and effectiveness.
We'd love you to stop by our office and talk with Dr. Paul Perella about your whitening options.