What You Should Know Before Whitening Your Teeth - Explained by Your Cosmetic Dentist in Seattle, WA
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
Are you considering teeth whitening? If so, there are a few things you should consider before undergoing this treatment.
Are You a Good Candidate for Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening, whether by professional or over-the-counter treatment, should only be used by people with healthy gums and teeth. This is because all teeth whitening treatments contain the bleaching agent peroxide, which can cause increased sensitivity and even damage to people with tender or receding gums. If gum disease or any tooth decay or damage are present, you should absolutely not undergo any type of teeth whitening treatment.
People with good oral health and yellowish stains are typically the best candidates for teeth whitening. Brownish or gray stains on teeth (caused by intrinsic staining, tooth decay, smoking, taking tetracycline, or fluorosis) usually do not change color noticeably.
If you’ve had dental work on visible teeth, such as tooth-colored fillings, bondings or crowns, it’s important to know that these restorations will not change color. The bleaching agent won’t have any effect on these materials, and they will not match your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you can explore other options with your dentist, such as dental veneers or bondings on the other teeth.
Professional or Over-the-Counter Whitening?
Once your dentist has approved you for teeth whitening, you have the option of choosing professional or over-the-counter treatments. Over-the-counter treatments are less expensive, but may take longer and require more applications to see results, and results will also not last as long as a professional whitening. OTC products like whitening strips and trays do not protect the gums and are often only designed to cover the front 4-6 top and bottom teeth, versus professional teeth whitening which covers a greater area of visible teeth and protects the gums with a rubber dam.
Although professional whitening treatments are more costly, they give much quicker and more reliable results. As an example, Philips Zoom Whitening boasts up to 8 shades lighter in a single 45-minute visit. Professional whitening uses a stronger bleaching agent than over-the-counter products, is closely monitored by a dental professional throughout the entire process, and carries less risk of gum and tooth sensitivity. Results from professional whitening typically last anywhere from one to five years depending on your personal eating, drinking and oral hygiene habits.
Ready to Whiten?
Before undergoing any type of teeth whitening treatment, we strongly recommend getting a dental exam and cleaning. Seek your dentist’s advice on whether or not a teeth whitening treatment will be safe and effective for you. Got the go ahead? Great! Your dental cleaning (specifically the removal of all plaque and tartar on your teeth) will help ensure better teeth whitening results from your treatment, and you can look forward to having a brighter, healthier looking smile!
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