Teeth whitening, also referred to as “teeth bleaching”, are everywhere you look nowadays. Its important to understand what products will give you the result you are trying to achieve by whitening your teeth. Dr. Bankhead or Dr. Rauber will help guide you to the right option to get your desired result. 

Many patients ask, “So what exactly is the bleach you use?” Teeth whitening/teeth bleaching uses the active ingredients, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, to whiten the teeth. These active ingredients break the stain down to smaller, less noticeable pieces, making the teeth appear brighter. 

We often hear from patients that they “want their teeth to look like they used to when they were young.” If dark liquids such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, soy sauce, or red wine have extrinsically (superficially) stained your teeth, we can help whiten your teeth. Certain foods, berries, tobacco, and smoking are also culprits for extrinsic tooth staining. 

Smoking and chewing tobacco contain tar and nicotine, which stain the teeth. Most know that tar is dark, but when the colorless nicotine reacts with oxygen, it turns yellow and stains your teeth as well. 

There is also intrinsic tooth staining, which is when the internal structure of the tooth darkens. Teeth become darker as we physiologically age. Teeth can also become intrinsically darker from tetracycline and trauma, as well as other factors. These stains will have a dark gray or brown appearance. Sometimes you may notice white lines associated to these stains as well. 

Bruxism (tooth grinding) will cause accelerated wearing down of the outer layer of your tooth called enamel. This can cause more of the darker coloration of the softer layer below the enamel of the tooth called dentin to show through giving the teeth a more yellow appearance. 

Whitening toothpastes can remove external stain and make teeth appear brighter, but many of these products have abrasive particles in the paste that over time can wear down the enamel. Its important to get an American Dental Association (ADA) approved toothpaste. 

Teeth whitening will not be effective on any restorations like dental fillings, dental crowns, dental bridges, dental bonding, dental veneers, or dental implant crowns. Therefore, it is important to talk to one of our knowledgeable dentists to discuss your options for teeth whitening if you have had previous dental work. 

We offer several options for teeth whitening: teeth whitening strips, take home custom trays with whitening gel, and in-office whitening (chairside bleaching). Each option has different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and our experienced dentists will help decide which option is right for you.  

The higher the concentration of peroxide, the shorter the time it needs to be applied. As the tooth dehydrates, it will become sensitive. As the peroxide moves through the enamel, it will get to the dentin, which irritates the nerve of the tooth. Also, if you overfill your take home whitening tray, it may lead to sensitivity and temporarily turn your gum tissue white. 

If you have experienced tooth sensitivity from whitening in the past, we can help. We have a desensitizer gel that works very well and several tips we can go over if tooth sensitivity is holding you back from teeth whitening. Please let us know if you have had sensitivity and need to discuss what to do to relieve your tooth sensitivity.

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