Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening

Have you ever wondered what would be involved in getting a brighter smile?

The process is called whitening or bleaching and can be accomplished with different products and procedures. If regular brushing and cleanings at the dentist’s office are not giving you the sparkle you want, start by talking to your dentist about your desired result. Your dentist will tell you about the options which will be most effective for you.

Whitening is not right for all teeth. While yellowish teeth can be bleached very easily, brownish and grayish teeth are more difficult whitening candidates and can be much more stubborn. Sometimes this can involve up to six months of at home whitening but eventually you will get the result you desire if you preserve! Whitening also does not change the color of veneers, bonding, fillings and other dental materials so they may stand out next to real teeth which have been whitened. Many times with the newer dental materials they will reflect off your new bright teeth and need not to be changed. Older fillings and crowns may not camouflage as well and sometimes will need to be replaced to match the new shade.

Teeth can change color for many reasons. Sometimes discoloration is food related, other times it’s because of medications or mineral deficiencies. While foods like apples and celery help remove stains, beverages such as coffee, cola, red wine and sports drinks have the ability to stain natural teeth permanently as well as affect the brightness of tooth enamel. Smoking and poor oral hygiene can have a drastic effect on tooth color.

As we age, our natural teeth tend to darken as well. Dentures also have the ability to change shade and color. However they can be whitened by simply using a denture cleaner designed for bleaching.
While considering if whitening is right for you, the dentist will review your allergies, medical and dental history as well as the condition of the tissue in your mouth. The dentist may also take X-rays to identify any irregularities and/or cavities which would potentially complicate the whitening process.

If you and your dentist decide that you are a suitable candidate for whitening, then you will have a few options to choose from. One of which is in-office bleaching and requires a visit to your dentist’s office. After an initial consultation, the bleaching process should only require one visit. The dentist will protect your gums with a special gel or rubber shield before applying the bleaching agent. Lasers and special lights may also be used to accelerate and intensify the effects of the whitening agent. Depending on your lifestyle, the effect of the whitening process can last months or years. Typically 5-7 years on average.

Bleaching can be done at home with special custom made trays. This involves placing the bleaching gel in the tray and covering the teeth for 30 minutes a day until you reach the whiteness you desire. This is a great method because you can always purchase a tube of bleaching gel and “top up” your whitening for a special occasion etc.

Some people choose to do a combination of the in office and at home bleaching. The in office gives immediate results then home-stay can get the teeth even whiter. Ask a dentist about the most suitable product for your individual needs. Dr. Brown and her staff can answer all of your teeth whitening questions and determine which method is best for you.

Thank you for visiting and reading!

Jacqueline S. Brown, DDS, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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