Since opening my practice in 2019, Teeth Whitening or Bleaching is one of the main questions I get asked about. More so, than when I worked in a traditional dental setting. As a provider, I felt like I did not want to recommend it because I had heard such terrible stories of post operative sensitivity from clients before. Jump to January 2021, and I began to investigate different products and more courses on teeth whitening, so I felt like I had enough information to provide people with, so they can make their own decisions on if they want to try teeth whitening. If you are considering a tooth whitening treatment, I strongly suggest talking to a dental provider because they will advise you based on the conditions in your mouth. In case you want a little more information, then I’ve put together some answers to some questions that I get asked.
What are the causes of staining on teeth?
Age, tobacco/vaping/cannabis, consuming habitually dark foods/beverages, antibiotics (tetracycline), dental fluorosis (too much Fluoride during tooth development).
What are the different teeth whitening options available?
- Toothpaste: I do not recommend this as it is often quite abrasive which can harm teeth, and when it gets cold I get more concerns about tooth sensitivity when they use these types of pastes; it is often corrected just by changing to a different toothpaste.
- Take-home kits: these can be purchased in stores, online, or in a dental office. There is a variety of formulations, but you should be wary on the quality of ingredients. Some may be more acidic which can contribute to sensitivity and harm to teeth. In general, these are a low and slow way of teeth whitening (milder concentration of whitening agent) and a person needs to be consistent in its use to see results. Typically, these are used 1-2 times a day for a specific amount of time. If you are using this and are noticing sensitivity, then reduce the time that you are using it per session.
- In-office: this is done in a dental setting (dental hygiene clinic) with a dental professional, such as a Dental Hygienist or a Dental Assistant. These appointments are usually longer because there are more steps involved, often a light may be incorporated, and the ingredients are stronger. This method will cost more than the others as well. If you have an event that you are preparing for and are in a time crunch, then this is a good option for you if you have had the conversation with your dental provider, and they think it is safe. At To The Root Dental Hygiene, we are currently using the Wicked White (https://wickedwhite.com/) product line, and so far, we have not had clients tell us they have had post-operative sensitivity. As a disclaimer, it is important that you understand that each person’s teeth whiten differently and each person’s experience with sensitivity or irritations is unique. We will do our best to prepare you.
Note: there are other settings where you can get a teeth whitening treatment done (like an esthetician), but this post doesn’t address that as they’re not a dental professional, nor do they have access to the same products that dental professionals do.
Who cannot have a teeth whitening treatment?
Allergy to Peroxide, pregnant/breastfeeding women, and children (the pulp should be fully developed).
What are the main things that you need to know as a consumer?
- If you have restorations on your front teeth (crowns, fillings etc.), then they do not whiten. If you are planning to do new restorations on front teeth, then you would want to do the whitening first, so that the shade for the restoration matches your newly whitened teeth.
- Some teeth do not whiten. Certain types of stains just cannot be eliminated (gray is especially difficult). Teeth that have been endodontically treated (root canaled) do not whiten well, you would need to ask your Dentist to do an internal bleaching treatment.
- Do not consume dark foods/beverages after whitening. Do not smoke/vape or chew tobacco after whitening.
- If you have gum recession or periodontal disease, then teeth whitening would not be recommended.
- It is possible that your teeth will become sensitive after; there is also a risk for an irritation on your gums.
- You cannot do a teeth whitening treatment if you have active decay/cavities; those need to be treated first.
- Teeth whitening is unpredictable; some teeth whiten great, and others do not.
- The stains will accumulate back based on your daily habits and oral hygiene, so they can return quickly.
If you have questions about your personal circumstance and would like to schedule an appointment with us, then please reach out. I would be happy to help!
All the best, Meg RDH.