Teeth whitening treatments have become perhaps the most commonly requested cosmetic dentistry treatment offered in most dental offices today. This treatment is popular with both women and men, and are affordable to almost anyone. Even better, these treatments can be done quickly, allowing even the busiest of patients to take advantage. Professional teeth whitening treatments can offer you very quick results, and can change your overall appearance with minimal effort.
How tooth discoloration occurs
The enamel on our teeth naturally becomes worn down as we age. This exposes the yellow dentin underneath, giving our teeth a duller appearance. Additionally, the teeth can become stained in a number of ways as we eat and drink.
When you consume certain foods or beverages such as coffee, wine, dark teas, soda, and even some fruit juices, extrinsic stains are formed on the surfaces of your teeth. This can also occur when you use tobacco products. While these stains can be removed if rinsed or brushed away quickly, when left to set in, they can build up over time.
When you experience oral trauma, you may develop intrinsic stains. These stains affect the teeth in a different way than extrinsic stains and will require more extensive treatment. This type of staining can also occur with excessive fluoride use, as well as the prolonged us of certain antibiotics (such as Tetracycline). In the past it was believed that this type of staining was untreatable, but advancements in modern dentistry now allow even the most stubborn stains to be camouflaged or removed.
Why professional whitening?
Walk into any drugstore and you will fine a number of over-the-counter tooth whitening options. Unfortunately, these methods often provide minimal results, and may require multiple treatments before they make a noticeable difference in the shade of your teeth. This makes them far more expensive than professional treatments, which can provide very good results in a relatively short amount of time.
What are the types of professional whitening treatments?
There are two main types of professional whitening treatments available today. For patients who are looking for a noticeable and significant difference in a very short period of time, an in-office treatment is the best option. Dr. Mabry will apply a peroxide gel to your teeth and leave it to sit for up to an hour, depending on your schedule, desired result, and the severity of staining. For some treatments, a special light may be used to activate the gel, providing powerful results in a very short period of time. This option is often used by patients who are preparing for a special event.
Dr. Mabry can also provide you with a professional in-home whitening kit if you are pressed for time. Treatment with this method will require several applications, as the gel used in this treatment is less powerful than what is provided during an in-office treatment. However, this gel will be placed in a special whitening tray that can be left on your teeth overnight. In some kits, these bleaching trays can be customized to your bite to ensure the gel is applied evenly. This option is often considered to be more cost-effective than an in-office treatment, as it can provide more dramatic results when used over a longer period of time.
Are there any risks with professional teeth whitening?
Professional teeth whitening treatments are one of the safest cosmetic procedures available in dental offices today. However, as with any treatment, there are a few minor risks or side effects that may occur during or following a professional treatment:
- Tooth sensitivity – some patients may experience increased sensitivity to touch and temperature in their teeth following an in-office treatment. This is due to the high concentration of peroxide in the gel that is used. In most cases, this passes quickly, within a few days. Dr. Mabry may recommend a special toothpaste if you suffer from sensitive teeth before treatment, or if you are known to have receding gums or damaged teeth.
- Gum irritation – the whitening trays provided in the professional take-home kits may irritate your gums for a few days following treatment. This usually passes within several days. If the irritation is extreme, contact Dr. Mabry so that the concentration of the gel in your kit may be lowered.
- “Technicolor teeth” – The color of dental restorations such as dental crowns, porcelain veneers, and dental bondings may not be affected by a whitening treatment. This will result in your natural teeth being lightened while the restorations remain the same.
If you are interested in learning more about the types of teeth whitening that we offer, or would like to find out to know which professional whitening option may be the best one for you, contact our office today for a consultation.
At-Home Tooth Whitening
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular and asked-about cosmetic dentistry treatments available today. This procedure has become so popular, many companies have begun to offer over-the-counter solutions. You can find whitening toothpastes, strips, and other treatments to fit any budget in your local drugstore. Unfortunately, these solutions rarely provide the same results you will receive with a professional treatment. In fact, many of these over-the-counter solutions can actually damage your teeth when used improperly.
Are over-the-counter whitening strips dangerous?
Over-the-counter whitening treatments can be dangerous to your teeth. As with other medications, just because you can buy it without a prescription does not mean that it cannot be harmful when used incorrectly. In some cases these products can irritate your lips and gums, as well as damaging your tooth enamel. Overuse of these whitening products can even cause your teeth to develop a bluish tint, or have uneven coloration (often referred to as “technicolor teeth). Even if you do choose to use an over-the-counter whitening solution, it is important that you do so under the supervision of a professional. Dr. Mabry can ensure that you are using the correct product for your teeth, and that you are using it correctly. If you’d rather avoid the possibility of side effects, consider choosing one of the many professional take-home kits available from our office.
No matter which method of at-home whitening you choose, follow these tips for best results:
- Start your at-home whitening treatments soon after having your teeth professionally cleaned. This ensure that all of the plaque has been removed from your teeth, and will not interfere with your whitening process.
- Make sure that you brush and floss your teeth before applying your at-home whitening solution.
- Use a weaker formula that contains a lower percentage of peroxide. This allows you to leave the solution on overnight, providing you with the same results as higher concentrations without damaging your teeth.
- Do not eat or drink (except water) for a minimum of two hours after you have used your whitening product
If you have existing dental work, it is very important that you skip the over-the-counter treatments and check with Dr. Mabry about the whitening procedures that will be best for you. Dental veneers, crowns, and bridges, as well as dental bonding may be damaged by over-the-counter bleaching products, and should be avoided. Dr. Mabry will be able to advise you on the best options for whitening your teeth.
What about whitening toothpastes and floss?
Every toothpaste helps to whiten your teeth somewhat by removing the deposits of plaque and accumulation of surface debris from the tooth surface. There are only a few toothpastes that contain the concentration of peroxide or other chemical bleaching agents and abrasives that are necessary to provide you with noticeable results. This is because toothpaste could be swallowed, and the concentration of these potentially harmful elements must be kept low to ensure consumer safety.
Some whitening toothpastes do contain higher concentration of highly abrasive agents such as silica, aluminum oxide, and calcium carbonate. Baking soda is also a popular ingredient in many whitening toothpastes. Unfortunately, overuse of these products can seriously damage your tooth enamel. Continued daily use may even wear away the enamel more rapidly than usual, actually increasing the amount of discoloration you notice. These highly abrasive elements can also damage or dull the surface of any dental restorations you have, including dental crowns and porcelain veneers.
It may be tempting to dismiss whitening dental floss as a silly idea, but this is one whitening product worth using. Dental floss that has been specially designed to whiten the teeth can remove stains in areas between the teeth and below the gum line where traditional whitening pastes and gels cannot reach. To do so, the floss is made with abrasive agents such as silica that will help to scrub the stains from your teeth.
If you’ve spent some time researching over-the-counter whitening methods, you may have encountered pain-on or brush-on whitening gel that appears similar to what Dr. Mabry uses during an in-office treatment. Unfortunately, though these treatments are often advertised as an instant solution to newer stains on your teeth, their effectiveness is generally subpar. At best, these products provide a useful supplement to your professional whitening treatment; they are certainly not an effective replacement.
Whitening your teeth safely at home
The safest, most effective way to whiten your teeth at home is to use one of the professional take-home whitening kits available from our office. We can custom fit the application trays to fit your teeth, which will enure that the whitening agent stays in place. This also prevents saliva from diluting the bleaching agent, ensuring that you receive the best and most noticeable results possible. Our custom trays will also help to prevent the gum and lip irritation that can occur when over-the-counter whitening treatments are used.
For patients who are pressed for time, or who have budget constraints, we also offer take-home kits with the bleaching agent pre-loaded into bleaching trays. This allows Dr. Mabry to adjust the concentration of the bleaching agent to fit your individual needs, providing you with the best results for the least amount of effort on your part.
If you have any questions about the take-home tooth whitening options available in our office, or if you would like to find out which tooth whitening solution would be best for you, call our office today and schedule a consultation. Dr. Mabry will meet with you to ensure that you receive the best product to suit your needs, allowing you to enjoy the whitest, brightest smile possible for you.