Teeth Whitening Questions and Answers
Q: Is my smile eligible for a whitening procedure?
A: Many people can enhance the look of their smile by using various whitening or bleaching procedures. As a general rule, individuals with teeth of a yellow color will see the most emotional results from bleaching. Those with brown or grey-blue discolorations usually have a less predictable outcome. Whitening may not enhance your smile if you have bonding or tooth colored fillings in your front teeth, or if your front teeth are veneered or crowned. Bleaching does not affect these materials, and they may stand out in your newly whitened smile. Additionally, some stains or discolorations can be caused by cavities. If bleach is applied to these areas, the cavities may become larger or more sensitive. For this reason it is important to consult your dentist before bleaching your teeth.
Q: How will the dentist whiten my teeth?
A: In-office whitening, or chair-side whitening, is done in your dentist’s office and usually takes around 1 hour. The dentist will first apply a protective gel to your gums and soft tissue. They will then apply a bleaching agent to your teeth, and sometimes a special light will be used to enhance the effectiveness of the bleach. In-office whitening may not be effective against certain types of discoloration. At-home whitening trays are another popular option for bleaching obtainable from your dentist. These clear plastic trays are made from impressions taken by the dentist of your upper and lower teeth. They are designed to keep up gel containing a bleaching agent intimately against your teeth. Usually trays are worn overnight for 2 to 3 weeks.
Q: What are the side effects of tooth whitening?
A: The most shared side effect of whitening or bleaching is tooth sensitivity. This can sometimes be relieved by using a sensitivity reducing toothpaste, or a high fluoride mouthwash or gel. The sensitivity usually subsides a few days after the whitening procedure is completed. Sometimes soft tissue irritation can occur after whitening, due to prolonged contact between your gums and the bleaching agent. Any time a whitening procedure is performed, your teeth are temporarily more at risk for picking up additional stain. For this reason, foods and beverages that tend to place stain, such as blueberries, coffee, tea, and red wine, should be avoided during the bleaching period and for 7 to 10 days after completion.
Q: Are over-the counter whitening methods safe to use?
A: Over-the-counter bleaching trays and strips are safe if they are used as directed. However, these methods can cause more tooth and gum sensitivity than other methods because they are not custom tailored to your teeth.
Q: How do whitening toothpastes and gums work?
A: Many toothpastes and gums labeled as “whitening” contain special chemicals or abrasives which help to clean stains from the surface of your teeth. However, unlike bleach, they do not alter the inherent color of your teeth.