Teeth Whitening is one of the main services offered by the dentists of the Dulles Dental Group in the Centerville, VA area. At Dulles Dental Group, our doctors specialize in cosmetic and general dentistry and strive to make every patient's smile white and healthy.
Teeth Whitening Q & A
Should Patients Get Their Teeth Whitened?
Getting teeth whitened isn’t an oral hygiene issue, but after years of drinking coffee, tea or red wine, teeth may have noticeable stains. Compounds in these beverages called chromogens are notorious for staining teeth. Teeth can also become yellow-looking, as the outer enamel wears thin and allows the yellowish underlayer (dentin) to show through. Medications, radiation, chemotherapy and tobacco can also stain teeth. Teeth can be perfectly healthy even if they’re discolored, so whitening is really a matter of aesthetics.
How Are Teeth Whitened?
Tooth whiteners contain either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. Quite a number of at-home systems are available; special toothpaste, gels and strips to wear on the teeth for 30 minutes or so. They work fairly well on surface stains but are not as effective as whitening performed by a dentist. Chair-side bleaching uses stronger concentrations of whiteners, strong enough that gums must be protected from the solution. A chair-side treatment may also include the use of a laser or special light.
What Are Problems With Tooth Whitening?
Sometimes getting teeth whitened can increase tooth sensitivity to heat and cold. This can most likely happen if the whitener gets under the enamel and in contact with the dentin. The increased sensitivity is usually temporary. If patients go overboard with at-home whiteners and use them a lot, they can damage their gums or tooth enamel. Patients can’t bleach crowns, veneers or implants, only natural teeth, so if they’re planning additional dental work, get teeth bleached first.
What if Tooth Whitening Doesn’t Work?
Although yellowed teeth usually respond well to bleaching, tooth whitening is less likely to be effective with gray tones. Deep stains may not bleach out completely. Medication stains or discoloration from injuries may not bleach at all. Patients have other options, such as veneers, which can completely cover stained teeth.