Teeth Whitening / Bleaching

What is Teeth Whitening?

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Teeth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration.

Teeth whitening makes your teeth brighter by a simple process of breaking stains in smaller pieces that makes your teeth less dark.

The bleaching agent used are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?

before-after-whitening

It’s important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration.

Whitening works on mostly all teeth with few exceptions. Teeth whitening is most effective on surface (extrinsic) stains.

It will not work on fillings, crowns, veneers and some tooth discolorations caused by medications or a tooth injury.

For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well. Other dental problems can affect the success of tooth whitening.

That is to say, cavities need to be treated before teeth are whitened.  If your gums have receded, the exposed roots of your teeth may appear yellow or discolored.

Whitening products will not make them whiter.

Why Did My Teeth Change Color?

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Over time, your teeth can go from white to other shades for a number of reasons. Coffee, tea, red wine and some food products are some major staining culprits. Tar and nicotine in tobacco create stubborn stains with long term use.

Aging causes the outer enamel layer to get thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through. Injury or trauma to the teeth can cause teeth to turn darker.

Certain medications like antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications, antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline, chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.

Whitening is not a permanent solution. The stains will come back. If you smoke or consume a lot of staining foods or drinks, you may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as one month.

If you avoid these sources of staining, you may not need another whitening treatment for 6 to 12 months.

What Are My Whitening Options?

At-Home Bleaching kit from your dentist office

Your dentist can provide you with a custom-made tray for at-home whitening.

In this case, the dentist will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time.

This may be a preferred option if you feel more comfortable whitening in your own home at a slower pace, but still with the guidance of a dentist.whiting teeth at dentist office

Out-of-office bleaching can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

In-Office Bleaching

This procedure is called chair-side bleaching and usually requires only one office visit.

The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect your gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth.

Over the Counter Whitening Products

The concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than what your dentist would use in the office.

There are different options online or in local grocery store, such as toothpastes or strips that whiten by bleaching your teeth.

Are There Any Side Effects from Teeth Whitening?

Sometimes after whitening treatments, teeth can be sensitive. That happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth.

In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay treatment, then try again.

Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.

If you have tooth decay or receding gums, whitening may make your teeth sensitive.

Treating Sensitive Teeth After Teeth Whitening

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Use a sensitivity toothpaste – sensitive toothpastes are formulated with ingredients such as potassium nitrate to relieve the pain associated with tooth sensitivity

Chew gum – scientists have found that more saliva is produced when chewing gum. And the act of chewing may distract people from the pain.

Avoid whitening for a while – give your teeth a break and stop using whitening products.

When To Call a Professional?

If you feel your teeth would benefit from whitening, contact your dentist to discuss the procedure.