So what do you think about the colour of your teeth? Could they be whiter? Should they be whiter? There are a few significant facts to consider before making the decision to spend time and money on whitening.
Can I even whiten my teeth at all?
Do your teeth have fillings, crowns or veneers that show when you smile? These restorations which are made of types of acrylics and porcelains, will not change colour at all due to whitening (aka bleaching). Bleaching works by dissolving away the surface stains and some of the mineral content from the surface of tooth enamel; thus any restorations will not change colour. So if you have a bunch of veneers or several scattered fillings on your front teeth, you should be aware that by bleaching your teeth, these existing restorations will begin to appear darker in comparison.
That said, if you are planning to undergo restoration with fillings, crowns, or veneers in the near future whitening your teeth now will allow these new restorations to be a colour you are happy with.
How does whitening work?
Whitening works one of two ways:
Bleach – Carbamide peroxide is the most common ingredient in whitening gels and can vary from 10% to 35%. The higher concentrations are usually used in dental offices only. Bleach dissolves away stains by breaking the bonds holding them together on the teeth, and also dissolving a slight amount of mineral content from the enamel.
Abrasion – Most whitening tooth pastes are functional by the addition of abrasive materials such as silica. Essentially you are scraping the stains off your teeth. This is also why a cleaning by a dental hygienist can make your teeth whiter.
Will whitening harm my teeth?
Bleaching has been shown to do no long term harm to tooth enamel. Although it does make the enamel slightly softer at the time of bleaching, after 7 days the enamel is remineralized.
Sensitivity to cold is the most common complication of bleaching. Generally this can be resolved either by using a remineralization paste such as MI Paste, a sensitivity tooth paste such as Sensodyne Repair and Protect, and by stopping the whitening for a few days.
The bond between white fillings and tooth enamel can be damaged by whitening, especially if the fillings are older and leaking already. It’s important to have your mouth evaluated by a dentist prior to whitening to assess the risk to your teeth that whitening might pose.
Where should I whiten my teeth?
Dentists are trained and qualified to advise you about the risks and benefits of whitening your teeth. So speak to a dentist prior to whitening, no matter where you choose to do it. Dentists often offer either In-Office or At-Home Whitening.
In-Office is the fastest method and can be more expensive as well. It is very effective but can wear off more quickly than other methods. Higher concentration of bleach are used for this and often in combination with a UV light to activate the bleaching agent.
At-Home whitening requires impressions and the fabrication of trays. The bleach concentration is often lower but the trays can be reused to help maintain the whiter smile you have achieved.
Spa/ Mall Kiosk
Spas and kiosks can offer services similar to In-Office whitening at a lower cost. They cannot advise on the health or suitability of your teeth prior to whitening.
You can purchase whitening toothpastes, strips or mouth rinses for home use as well. The toothpastes are the least effective. Often the whitening strips can be effective at a lower cost but should only be used as described in their instructions. Mouth rinses are less effective than strips but will result in less sensitivity.
Well, that is likely enough information for now. If you have any further questions about Teeth Whitening feel free to post a question to our Facebook Page, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), call (780-986-6255) or come in for a visit.
Dr. Jack Gordon