You probably know quite a few people who have whitened their teeth as it’s an extremely popular cosmetic dentistry treatment. However, if you ask those who used an over-the-counter whitening kit about their experience, you’ll probably find the results were less than stellar or that they encountered some unpleasant side-effects during the entire process. If you question people who have had a professional tooth whitening treatment, you’ll find the answers are very different. Because it is easy to buy over-the-counter whitening kits, some people assume that teeth whitening isn’t really a dental treatment, but the very opposite is true. Misusing over-the-counter kits or whitening an unhealthy mouth could cause significant damage to your teeth and gums, so why take the chance? Your teeth are incredibly precious and are designed to last for life but can only do so if you treat them properly.
A professional teeth whitening treatment is affordable, safe, and highly effective, and will give you the results you desire comfortably and without unpleasant side-effects.
Why Whiten Professionally?
Only dental professionals can use high-quality, professional whitening products that achieve optimal results. Also, before you can have any whitening treatment, you will need to see a dentist here at Eric S. Yao, DDS, MAGD. It is essential to have a dental examination before any type of cosmetic dentistry treatment. Dr. Eric Yao will need to check the condition of your teeth and gums to make sure you don’t have any existing dental diseases such as tooth decay or gum disease. Any signs of disease must be treated before you can whiten safely. Trying to whiten an unhealthy mouth would allow the whitening gel to penetrate your teeth or gums, at the very least causing unwanted tooth sensitivity and quite possibly pain, and worsening any dental issues. There’s another reason for seeing a dentist before whitening as well because your teeth are unique and will whiten slightly differently from anyone else.
Ensuring You Can Whiten Evenly
When you see a dentist, they will check to see why your teeth have become stained as for example, teeth can have extrinsic or external stains, or the stains may be internal or intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are confined to the outer layer of tooth enamel covering and protecting your teeth and are most commonly caused by lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking red wine, tea or coffee, or preferring highly colored foods. Also, tooth enamel thins as you get older which exposes more of the natural tooth color underneath in the dentin. Extrinsic stains tend to respond quite well to tooth whitening treatments, but even so, the exact results can differ depending on the natural color of your teeth. For example, teeth can be gray, yellow, or brown-hued. Usually, teeth that are yellow tend to respond more easily to teeth whitening compared to gray teeth.
Intrinsic or internal stains are a little different and won’t respond so well to teeth whitening treatments. Internal stains can be caused because of exposure to tetracycline while in the womb or during early childhood, or if your teeth were exposed to too much fluoride during childhood. If you do have teeth that are internally stained, they may need a slightly different treatment to make sure they whiten evenly with the rest of your teeth.
Yet another factor that must be considered is whether you have any dental restorations because these will not change color. Porcelain crowns, bridges, and veneers will all stay the same shade during whitening. If you do have any dental restorations, these may need to be replaced once your teeth are whitened. It’s better to whiten your teeth first because then we can accurately match the shade of your restorations to the new brighter and whiter shade of your teeth. All dental restorations need restoring periodically, and it could well be that any older crowns, veneers, or bridges have reached the end of their natural life.
Once all these factors have been assessed, you can go ahead and whiten safely and comfortably in our dental office. We may suggest you have your teeth professionally cleaned before teeth whitening treatments because removing plaque and tartar could help to improve the efficacy of this procedure.
What to Expect During a Professional Tooth Whitening Treatment?
Firstly, we will ensure your lips and gums are protected before painting your teeth with special professional-strength whitening gel. The gel is activated using a dental laser which helps it penetrate your tooth enamel more easily, lifting even deep-seated stains. It’s possible we may wipe off and reapply the gel several times during your treatment. Afterward, you will notice a significant improvement in the color of your teeth as they will look several shades lighter immediately. Caring for Teeth That Have Been Whitened
Teeth whitening is not a permanent treatment, but it should last for quite a while before you need to top up the results. Initially, you may need to avoid highly colored foods and drinks for the first two or three days until your teeth settle down. Afterward, you can help keep your teeth sparkling white by avoiding eating and drinking too many highly colored foods or drinking beverages through a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. We can advise you as to how safely you can re-whiten your teeth because it’s important not to overdo whitening treatments. Overusing whitening products will not make your teeth brighter and whiter and could end up having the opposite effect, so they appear gray, dull, and lifeless because they are over-bleached.
Above all, make sure you keep up with your regular checkups and hygiene appointments so we can make sure your teeth are still strong and healthy. Having them cleaned professionally will remove some surface stains, so they look brighter for longer.
Combining Teeth Whitening with Other Treatments
Teeth whitening is frequently combined with other cosmetic dental treatments to create a more cosmetically perfect smile in a way that is as minimally invasive as possible. For example, it works exceptionally well with orthodontics, creating a straighter and brighter smile without the need for more extensive procedures such as porcelain veneers.