Welcome! The goal of this blog is to answer the most common questions that our patients ask us about their dental health. We've already addressed the question of whether cavities are contagious (they are!). Our next point of focus: Will whitening ruin your teeth?
Does it hurt the enamel? The active ingredient in whitening is peroxide, which has been used for many years as an antiseptic in the mouth. The common misconception is that whitening will 'soften' your teeth or make the enamel 'thinner'. As of now, there are few studies on the effects of dentist-monitored at-home-whiteners on enamel. Any adverse effects that have been found are linked to overuse. So long as you're not using the bleach more often than recommended (1-2 hours every day for about 2-3 weeks) and you're not doing this too often (I recommend whitening a maximum of once a year), there should be no adverse effects on your enamel.
What about sensitivity? Sensitivity is a common side effect of whitening, but don't worry, it doesn't last forever! Sensitivity to cold is most common during and a few weeks after treatment. For people who have a history of sensitive teeth, I always recommend using Sensodyne toothpaste for 2 weeks before treatment starts. You can also alternate one night of bleach in the tray, and one night of sensodyne toothpaste.
So what are the risks? The biggest risk of damage from whitening is to your gum tissue. For this reason, it's important to have a dental professional create a custom whitening tray for you so that you bleach only your teeth and not your gums! If the gums do become bleached, they will return to a normal color within a few days.
Why not whiten my teeth at the Airport or at the Mall Kiosk? There are many reasons you should stick with your dentist for your whitening needs. First and foremost, if you have any cavities or leaking fillings, the bleach will make the problem worse and can lead to more pain in the future. Secondly, these kiosks use a one-size-fits-all tray and thus risks bleaching your gums and not the entire surface of your tooth. Thirdly, your dentist will tell you if a tooth will not whiten with whitening trays (either due to internal staining, an old filling, or a cavity).
Great news! Our whitening is on 50% off for our back to school special. The offer ends on August 31st, so call for an appointment today.
See below for an instruction sheet on home bleaching:
Instructions for Home Bleaching
The bleaching tray provided has been custom made from an impression of your teeth. It is designed to hold the special whitening gel in contact with your teeth. This tray fits your teeth snugly so that the solution will not become diluted or leak from the tray.
The tray should be worn daily for the next two (2) weeks. A bleaching session consists of wearing the tray with the whitening agent in place for a period of one to two hours. You may wear the tray for a maximum of two sessions per day about 8 hours apart.
You may experience some minor discomfort when you first begin treatments. This may consist of a slight tingling or burning sensation in the teeth or gums. If this is uncomfortable or continues for more than a few days, discontinue use of the bleaching system and call your doctor.
You may experience some slight sensitivity of the teeth which will subside when treatment is discontinued. Some patients find relief when they alternate one night with whitening solution in the tray and one night with Sensodyne toothpaste in the tray. The use of Sensodyne toothpaste is recommended starting a week before treatment to minimize sensitivity. Please inform your doctor if sensitivity persists for more than a few days.
Technique for Bleaching
a) Brush your teeth thoroughly with toothpaste.
b) Place a small amount of whitening gel into the tray in the area of the front six to eight teeth. Spread gel with a toothpick.
c) Thoroughly seat the tray onto your teeth as instructed and remove any excess gel with a moist toothbrush or tissue. If the whitening gel extrudes into your mouth, you have probably placed too much material into the tray. Reduce the amount next time.
d) After 1 ½ hours, remove the tray, rinse and dry the tray and store it in the container. Brush your teeth with toothpaste.