Summer is upon us and many people are starting to think about whitening their teeth. Although there are certain considerations to be made, almost anyone can whiten their teeth. We have several different options here at Dental Care of Sumner. This month we’ll focus on those options and the safety of tooth whitening.

Ultraviolet light is used to activate the whitening gel in a Zoom procedure.

Is it safe to whiten my teeth?

One of the most common questions we receive about whitening is, “Is it safe?” When used as directed, both over the counter products and in office procedures are safe for the teeth. Overuse of any whitening product can damage the enamel. Sometimes whitening can cause the teeth to be more sensitive (temporarily), especially for those who have recession. If you experience sensitivity, it’s important to remember that it’s not an indicator that anything is wrong. Patients with severe recession or erosion/wear on their teeth may be advised not to whiten or whiten with modifications. It’s always important to ask your dentist if you’re a good candidate for whitening, whether it’s done in the office or at home. It’s important to also note that crowns and fillings will not whiten, they will remain whatever color they were at placement.

Whitening Options

-Toothpaste: This is the first and easiest place to start. While many whitening pastes contain the same ingredients, not all are treated equal. Some can be more abrasive than others. We recommend doing some research to determine which option is best for you.

-Strips: This is the quickest way to lighten teeth in a pinch and have been around for a while. Sometimes they prove to be tricky to use because they don’t stay in place very well. The strips are an easy choice for those looking to quickly whitening for an event and can’t make it into the office.

-Customized Whitening Trays: As a thank you for choosing us to take care of your dental health, we offer complimentary whitening trays to all of our patients.  We will take a scan or mold of your teeth and make custom trays. When you receive your trays, we’ll provide whitening gel and some instructions on how to use it. As long as you maintain appointments and don’t neglect your oral health, we’ll continue to supply the whitening gel every 6 months! All you have to do is ask at your hygiene visit! The trays take an initial 2 weeks of daily use to achieve maximum whitening but from there require touch-ups as needed.

-In Office Whitening (ZOOM): Very recently we started to offer in-office whitening through ZOOM. This is a product and technique offered by Phillips (makers of Sonicare). The ZOOM whitening is a 2 hour in office appointment. During your appointment, we’ll apply a whitening gel to the teeth that is then activated by a blue UV light. ZOOM is the best option to get your teeth the lightest shade in the fastest amount of time. If you have time to plan before an event, this is the option to choose!

Whiter teeth can be achieved with whitening strips, although they are sometimes difficult to apply.

Don’t Forget Good Homecare!

Keeping up with good home care will keep your teeth white naturally. Brushing twice per day with an electric toothbrush and flossing or using a water flosser daily will help prevent build-up of plaque and stains that discolor teeth. It’s also a good idea to use a sensitive or high concentration fluoride toothpaste up to two weeks prior to whitening. This can help with sensitivity due to whitening.

Before and after tooth whitening.

 

 

 

How Long will the Results Last?

Most commonly asked question. The longevity of your whitening results depends on your homecare (discussed above) and your daily habits. If you’re a habitual coffee drinker, it’s a safe bet that your teeth will stain faster than a non-coffee drinker. Similar outcomes can be expected if you frequently drink red wine or tea. Rinsing with water after consuming these beverages or consuming through a straw to prevent the staining liquids from flowing over teeth are just a couple of ways to help keep your pearly whites whiter longer. Ultimately, the better your homecare is and the less staining liquids you consume, the longer you can expect your results to last. Don’t be discouraged coffee drinkers, ZOOM whitening may work well in conjunction to maintaining with home trays more frequently.

We’d love to discuss our whitening options here in our office and find the best one for you! Everyone’s mouth and habits are different and what works best for you, may not be the best for someone else. Like all of our treatment planning, we enjoy tailoring our recommendations based on your individual needs. Feel free to discuss with your hygienist or dentist at your next visit!

References

Mouth Healthy: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/whitening

Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-whitening/tooth-whitening

 

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