Brighten Your Smile
With Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening systems, whether in the form of one-hour bleaching sessions at your dentist's office, or home-use bleaching kits purchased at your local drugstore can be found everywhere.
Virtually everyone who opts for this cosmetic treatment will see moderate to substantial improvement in the brightness and whiteness of their smile.
However it is not a permanent solution and requires maintenance or "touch-ups" for a prolonged effect.
Before you embark on any whitening treatment, ask your dentist for a realistic idea of the results you can expect and how long it should take to achieve the results.
According to the FDA, the term "bleaching" is permitted to be used only when the teeth can be whitened beyond their natural color applying strictly to products that contain bleach.
The term "whitening" on the other hand, refers to restoring a tooth's surface color by removing dirt and debris.
Teeth whitening treatments are considered to be safe when products are followed as directed. However, there are some risks:
- Sensitivity: Bleaching can cause a temporary increase in sensitivity to temperature, pressure and touch lasting from a couple days to a month. Individuals with gum recession, significant cracks in their teeth or leakage resulting from faulty restorations are at risk the most to experience sensitivity.
- Gum irritation: Over half of those who use peroxide whiteners experience some degree of gum irritation resulting from the bleach concentration or from contact with the whitening trays. The irritation typically lasts up to several days.
- Technicolor teeth: Porcelain veneers are not affected by bleach and therefore maintain their original color while the surrounding teeth are whitened resulting in what is called "technicolor teeth".
- Maintaining your white smile: At home follow-up or maintenance whitening is needed to keep your teeth from darkening again.
Some other things to note:
- No amount of bleaching will yield "unnaturally white teeth".
- Results are not fully seen until approximately two weeks after bleaching
- If you are needing ceramic restorations, be sure to color match them to your newly bleached teeth.
- Recessed gums often reveal their yellowish root surfaces at the gum line.
- Bleaching is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
Over the years, teeth darken as a result of wear and tear and stain accumulation. Teeth whitening in teenagers usually show dramatic results while removing stains from people in their fifties can prove difficult.
Many things cause stains and darkening of our teeth, such as:
- Eating habits: Consumption of red wine, coffee, tea, cola, carrots, oranges, and other deeply colored beverages and foods cause staining over the years.
- Smoking: Nicotine leaves brownish deposits which slowly soak into the tooth structure and cause intrinsic discoloration.
- Drugs/chemicals: Tetracycline usage during tooth formation produce dark grey or brown ribbon stains which are very difficult to remove.
- Grinding: Most frequently caused by stress can add micro-cracking in the teeth and can cause the biting edges to darken.
Three major teeth whitening options are available today. All three rely on varying concentrations of peroxide and varying application times.
- In-office whitening: Significant color changes in a short period of time is the major benefit of in-office whitening. This protocol involves the carefully controlled use of a relatively high-concentration peroxide gel usually accomplished in one hour and can be rather expensive.
- Professionally dispensed take-home whitening kits: Most dentist are of the opinion that this option will produce the best results over the long haul. They incorporate an easy-to-use lower concentration peroxide gel that remains on the teeth for an hour or longer. The gel is applied using custom-made bleaching trays that resemble mouth guards. A little more affordable than in-office.
- Over-the-counter bleaching kit: This is the cheapest and most convenient of all options. The gel is applied to the teeth with a one-size-fits all tray, whitening strips or paint-on applicators.
Who should not undergo whitening?
- Pregnant or nursing women
- Children under 16
- Individuals with sensitive teeth and gums, receding gums and/or defective restorations
- Anyone allergic to peroxide
- Anyone with gum disease, worn enamel, cavities, and exposed roots
- Persons with darkly stained teeth
It is important to have realistic expectations with your teeth whitening. Some stains are stubborn and can be deeply embedded over many years. It does work, and at this time appears to be very safe.
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