Teeth Whitening

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In a world where cosmetic procedures are taking over, teeth whitening is on high demand. You might have previously done whitening at home or at your dental office, or you might be contemplating about it, either way, here is what you need to know about teeth whitening. 
The active ingredient in all tooth whitening agents use in United States, whether is OTC or at the dental office, is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This active ingredient dehydrates your enamel by opening the tiny little pores within and extracting the stains and yellow pigments. Since the “pores” of your enamel are dilated, hydrogen peroxide reaches the pulp or nerve of your teeth, creating that sensitive feeling, which eventually within a few days will cease as your tooth pores close. Light activated whitening procedures accelerate the rate in which the hydrogen peroxide penetrates the enamel and that’s the reason why procedures like Zoom might make your teeth feel more sensitive. Sensitivity also depends on the quality of the bleaching material, technique use and individual’s response. Higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide usually leads to higher sensitivity. Over the counter products contain 3-10% hydrogen peroxide while at office whitening products contain 15-40% hydrogen peroxide. Whitening results may also vary depending on enamel thickness, type of stains, age, concentration of active agent, treatment time and frequency.

Teeth whitening might sound simple, but it is not. Your gums can be burned and irritated from the hydrogen peroxide, specially if you are using ill fitting trays bought over the counter. These standard trays might not fit properly, allowing the whitening agent to reach your gums. Tray whitening procedures take a little longer to show results compare to in office procedures. Teeth usually lighten in 3 days to 6 weeks. Nicotine stains may take 1-3 months, and Tetracycline stains may take 2-6 months. In contrary, a teeth whitening procedure done in a dental office will protect your gums by applying a gel or using a rubber shield prior to treatment and results are mostly instant.

As for post treatment procedure, dark pigments liquids or foods should be avoided for the first 72 hours. For example, coffee, tea, blueberries, beets, and smoking cigarettes or cigars. A good way to prevent tooth sensitivity is to use toothpaste for sensitive teeth such as Sensodyne, chew sugar free gum to increase salivary flow, and stop using teeth whitening products. Fluoride containing products might lessen sensitivity as well.

Not everyone qualifies for teeth whitening. Those with multiple restorations in the front teeth will not be good candidates as bonding, crowns and veneers do not change color. Also, bleaching agents might affect such restorations by creating roughness, crack development, marginal breakdown, and decreasing the bond strength. Some non vital teeth might need internal bleaching, such as those with endodontic treatment. Patients with present cavities are not qualified to get whitening either as hydrogen peroxide will penetrate the cavity creating an intense sensitive feeling. Bleaching is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women and teenagers under age 16 as the pulp of the tooth is enlarge causing it to become sensitive.

If you are looking to use natural whitening methods such as baking soda or activated charcoal, you should be aware that these products have not gone through extensive research to determine how harmful they could be. They might lighten your teeth if use properly by one or two shades, but both baking soda and charcoal are too abrasive to the enamel and will create micro scratches if scrub as a toothpaste. In result, you will end up with a rough uneven surface more prone to accumulate stains and plaque.

Always consult with your dentist to see what options suit you best. Whitening alternatives such as bonding, veneers or crowns might be a better option if numerous restorations are present already or if your enamel is too thin and won’t change color.

Smile on!

For a complimentary in office consultation visit our page at:

HQ Dontics Dental Centre

2 thoughts on “Teeth Whitening

  1. I like that this article talks about the different types of stains you could get on your teeth, and how long it would take to take that stain out. I had no idea it could take up to 6 months to get Tetracycline stains out! I really hope I don’t have any of those types of stains because that would take a lot of effort to get out. My biggest worry is that my soda habits have gotten a little out of hand. I will have to see what a whitening specialist can do for me.

  2. Thanks for the information on teeth whitening, it was very helpful. I had no idea that the biggest ingredient in teeth whitening was hydrogen peroxide, I always thought it was something more intense like fluoride or something. My sister has been looking into getting her teeth whitened, I will be sure to share this information with her.

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