Many people come to me with questions about teeth whitening. What’s safe? What works? How long does it take? I am here to answer those questions and discuss your concerns!
Why do teeth turn yellow?
The most common reason for yellow teeth is below the surface. As we age, the outer layer of our teeth gets thinner, revealing the natural yellow color of the dentin (internal layer). Other causes are external stains on the enamel surface from dark drinks like coffee, soda, tea or wine.
Methods to whiten teeth:
1) Using a product with a bleaching ingredient that penetrates through the enamel and bleaches the yellow dentin. This method is the safest, most effective and long-lasting way to whiten the teeth.
2) Using a product with abrasive ingredients that simply remove superficial stains on the enamel. The limitation with these products is that it only works on surface stains and can actually damage the enamel by causing abrasion, erosions and ultimately speeding up the yellowing of the teeth.
Can I just use whitening toothpaste to whiten my teeth?
No. Whitening ingredients need to be in contact with the teeth for a minimum of 20 minutes in order to work. Most whitening toothpastes only remove surface stains but have no real effect on bleaching the teeth.
How about whitening strips? Do they work?
Whitening strips do work but they have some drawbacks. The strips are not custom made to fit your particular teeth size and shape. Therefore, the gel may leak and touch the gums which can irritate them. Also, when using the strips, you may miss spots and cause uneven bleaching. Over-the-counter strips usually come with a standard low strength solution from 10% to 22% so it might take a longer time to achieve the desired results. Professional strength white strips are offered at the dentist office and they might be a good option to start the whitening process.
What are custom made whitening trays?
A dentist can make customized trays to fit your teeth perfectly so they all receive the treatment and you won’t miss any spots. You also won’t accidentally bleach your gums. Also, the whitening gel provided by your dentist comes in different percentages which may speed up the process in a safe way.
Are there any side effects of teeth whitening?
Bleaching products contain chemicals such as carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. When using these chemicals, one should be prepared for side effects like tooth sensitivity, as they must go through the enamel to whiten the tooth from the inside out. These side effects are usually just temporary and fluoride gels can help minimize them.
What about natural whitening remedies?
Many of the natural remedies to whiten teeth can actually cause permanent damage on the enamel. Popular remedies like activated charcoal, lemon juice, strawberries or pure hydrogen peroxide can be very abrasive, eroding the enamel and causing tooth damage.
So what’s the safest way to whiten my teeth?
First, get an oral exam by your dentist to make sure you are a good candidate for bleaching. People with gum recession, erosions or decay might not be good candidates until these problems are solved because the bleaching gels might make these situations more detrimental. After getting the clearance from your dentist, the safest way is to do the procedure slowly with custom-made bleaching trays during a period of two weeks. By doing it slowly, sensitivity issues can be reduced and the enamel won’t be affected. Another important thing to consider is that whitening treatment only works on natural teeth and won’t bleach fillings, veneers or crowns.
If you have questions about teeth whitening, give us a call at 607-754-2273 or email office@progressivedentalNY.com.