When used properly, teeth whitening can enhance your smile. Discoloration of teeth can be a result of food and drink, aging, trauma, fluorosis and certain medications. Did you know that the dentin (second layer of your tooth) and the root surface are naturally darker in appearance? Root surfaces and dentin can vary in color. They can be yellow, grey or brown. Darker teeth can also be the result of staining from food or drink, smoking as well as certain developmental abnormalities of the teeth.
Whitening is always best to do following a cleaning, x-rays and exam. The removal of stains, plaque and hardened deposits allow the “bleach” to contact tooth structure. Only natural tooth structure can be whitened (crowns, fillings, veneers, dentures and partials will not whiten). Roots and dentin do not whiten well and will not get as white as enamel. An exam should be conducted before bleaching to rule out decay, periodontal disease and infection.
There are several factors that influence the results of whitening. Any discolorations that are internal to the tooth may not become “white” without the help of composite or porcelain being placed on the teeth. Stains from food and drink can hinder results depending on how effective your oral hygiene is. Decay will never become whiter and should never be used to treat the tooth.
TRADITIONAL WAYS TO WHITEN TEETH
There are two traditional ways to whiten teeth.
The first is over-the-counter bleaching using strips or prefabricated trays that you can purchase in the store. While they can do a good job whitening teeth, you have to be careful not to let the bleach sit on the gum tissue. Bleach left on the gum tissue can chemically burn the gum which can cause pain.
The second, is in-office bleaching. This process includes placing bleach on the teeth for approximately one hour, while a blue light illuminates the teeth. This method works for many people but is difficult to control sensitivity. This method is also the most expensive and becomes very costly is additional sessions are needed.
At Fede Family & Cosmetic Dentistry we recommend bleaching trays that are custom fitted to your teeth. This minimizes the amount of bleach that reaches the gums, sensitivity can be controlled easily, and it is easy to touch up when additional whitening is desired.
Sensitivity is one of the most common side effects of whitening. Sensitive toothpaste is always a good idea when undergoing any whitening treatment. If sensitivity does occur, waiting a day or two can minimized discomfort. We also offer two different concentrations of bleach for those of you who are prone to sensitivity.