What You Should Know About Teeth Whitening

Tooth discoloration is natural
For each and every person, teeth yellowing is a normal part of life. It simply comes with the process of aging. The inner part of the tooth, called dentin, can become discolored due to a significant events such as certain diseases, medications or injuries. The yellowing of dentin is usually due to unfortunate circumstances and not the actions of the person. The outer part of the tooth, called enamel, can also turn yellow. However, this is due to the habits or choices of the person, or just everyday life. Actions such as grinding your teeth, smoking tobacco or taking in acids from foods and drinks that you eat can thin enamel earlier, making teeth become yellow sooner.

Two types of whitening strategies
“Intrinsic” whitening refers to targeting the inner part of the tooth. The dentin soaks up whitening agent and becomes lighter. When the inner part of the tooth becomes whiter, that is reflected through the enamel. Intrinsic whitening treatments can include laser whitening, resin bonding, veneer treatment.

“Extrinsic” whitening is the removal of stains on the outer part of the tooth, the enamel. This is a much easier process and can be done at home or in-office. Techniques for extrinsic whitening can come in the several forms including trays, strips and toothpastes.

What to know before you begin
Teeth Need to be Healthy – Refrain from whitening your teeth is you already have a dental condition such as gum disease, exposed roots, cavities, crooked teeth, or gum recession. Exacerbating these problems can easily lead to further issues.

Tooth Sensitivity Can Occur – One common side effect of teeth whitening is brief sensitivity after your teeth have been exposed to whitening gel. This is normal but should still be taken into consideration. Use of a pain reliever is acceptable when sensitivity is particularly high.

It Won’t Last Forever – Tooth whitening does not last for forever. That’s the unfortunate truth. Regardless of treatments, teeth naturally yellow overtime with age, diet and lifestyle. Most results from a round of whitening last from 6 months up to 2 years, depending on the individual. Then it will be time for another round.

More is More – Exercise caution as you strive for whiter teeth. Too much whitening in too short of a time period will cause permanent damage to teeth. Whitening too frequently can cause teeth to look translucent or discolored, of which the only fix is completely replacing the affected teeth. Whitening is safe when done correctly.

When you should NOT whiten
● Your teeth are already very sensitive
● You have gum recession or sensitivity
● You have sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide
● You have cavities
● You are pregnant or breastfeeding
● You’re under age 18
● You have visible plastic fillings or crowns

The takeaway

Teeth whitening, whether in-office or at home, is a relatively safe and low-risk cosmetic dental treatment when performed on healthy teeth. It can be used to treat the yellowing of enamel due to aging, smoking or certain drinks. Remember to keep the treatments few and far between to ensure the health of your teeth. For remedies concerning the darkening of inner-tooth dentin, schedule an appointment with us to discuss.

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