As dentists, our number one priority for our patients has and will always be good oral health. However, for more and more of our patients, the way their teeth look is just as important as how they feel. Aesthetic/cosmetic dentistry has become a regular part of general dentistry, and due to that, most dental offices now offer tooth whitening as a cosmetic service to their patients. Tooth whitening is a safe, easy and non-invasive way to enhance and brighten your smile.
Teeth can become stained over time, mainly due to different foods in our diet (ie. coffee, tea, red wine). Sometimes, these stains can be removed with special whitening toothpastes or polishing, but because the enamel is porous, stain can seep into the actual tooth structure, making it impossible to brush or polish off. In order to remove these stains, teeth whitening products must be used to breakdown these stains and whiten the enamel. There are many different systems, but most use a type of peroxide as the whitening agent.
A lot of people ask if whitening is harmful to your teeth. Occasionally, some patients will experience increased tooth sensitivity or slight irritation to the gums or soft tissues around the teeth, but normally this stops shortly after the patient is finished the procedure. Always inform your dentist if either of these occurs.
Our patients also ask us how long the whitening effects will last. There is no exact answer to this question, as there are many factors that will affect how quickly your teeth accumulate stains. Also, some people like to do “touch-ups” more frequently than others to maintain a bright white appearance. We generally recommend bleaching your teeth no more than once every 6 months.
There are a couple things you should be aware of before you whiten. It’s also important to have a dental professional evaluate your teeth before you start. First, if you have any fillings, crowns, or veneers, these will not lighten as you bleach, so they will likely not match the shade of your teeth afterwards. Also, some people have naturally darker teeth due to the color of their dentin (this is the layer of tooth below the enamel), or due to the transparency of their enamel. These patients may not be able to achieve as white a smile as they may have hoped for.
But if you are looking to get a brighter, whiter smile in a short amount of time, then tooth whitening may be right for you. Interested? Give us a call, we’d love to help you keep your smile healthy and looking its best.