Your smile. The first thing we notice when we say hello, the first conversation between people without exchanging a single word. Says so much when you have it, and says so much when you don’t. Bright or yellow, stained or clear a smile is the best accessory to one and all. But a bright and beautiful smile makes this accessory an asset.
There are many deterrents that come in the way of achieving this goal. Some external staining and some internal staining, regular visits to you hygienists and good oral hygiene habits can keep the external staining under control, but the internal staining sometimes need a little help. The help that comes in the way of teeth whitening, which can be done in the dental office or at home.
One of the biggest concerns regarding the procedure and the question we are frequently asked about is the safety of these products, and concern over any damage it can inflict on the teeth. The next biggest question comes in regard to tooth sensitivity after the procedure.
First of all, let us assure you that there have been no major health problems attributed to tooth whitening products when used as directed by your Dentist. Many studies have confirmed this. But it is worth noting, that like anything else involving active chemical agents, if the product is overused or abused it can cause problems. There have been instances where young adults in search of the perfect Hollywood bright smile tend to buy over the counter white strips and use them aggressively for days hoping for a faster result and end up with severe sensitivity and damage to their still immature tooth enamel.
Now, with that being said, tooth whitening is very popular among all age groups, but especially with teenagers, though it is certainly not limited to them. There have been studies that discourage the use of whitening agents on young immature teeth, but it is one of the most conservative and cost-effective dental treatments to improve or enhance a person’s smile.
The active ingredient in a whitening agent is hydrogen peroxide in the form of Carbamide peroxide, ranging from 10-26%. The whitening products work on the existing enamel to temporarily decalcify the enamel crystal giving it a whiter look, much like that of etched glass. Also it depends on how your enamel responds to the bleach gel. Sometimes a patient will get a nice result after 3-4 treatments. But everyone’s enamel responds differently so it is hard to predict how fast and how much your teeth will lighten. In rare cases, some teeth are resistant to whitening. In the next 24 hours you will notice further whitening as the bleach gel continues to penetrate the enamel. The teeth will then settle at a shade slightly less white than the day that the whitening was done. During the 24 hours after whitening, you should avoid beverages, foods that contain dyes and colors as the use and consumption of these items and foods could lessen the whitening effect. It is a safe procedure if done with the proper supervision.
Your teeth are temporarily more porous from the bleach gel. Until these pores are closed again, your teeth are more susceptible to stains. There is usually a mild cold sensitivity associated with the procedure that will last anywhere from 2-3 days and then it dissipates. There are precautions we can take to minimize this sensitivity, including but not limited to fluoride application after the completion of a whitening regimen to encourage remineralization without any adverse effects.
Tooth whitening isn’t for everyone as it can affect the color and texture of existing or planned dental work, existing fillings, veneers or crowns will not whiten. Cosmetic fillings can be done after 2 week waiting period, as enamel surface will not allow the white fillings to bond sufficiently before then. After 2 weeks, the enamel has remineralized and is back to its normal state. That’s why it’s important to get professional input before you begin. Together, we can brighten your smile in the safest way possible. We would be happy to answer all of your questions and concerns about this procedure.