Question about tooth whitening?

 

Why do teeth become discolored?

The most common reason why our teeth can become discolored is from exposure to pigments in the foods and drinks that we consume.  The stains that result can be both extristic (on the surface of the teeth) or instrinsic (embedded in the microscopic pores within our teeth). 

 

How can I get rid of this discoloration so that my teeth look whiter?

Extrinsic surface stains can be removed using whitening toothpastes and by having your teeth professionally cleaned and polished at your dentist’s office.  Intrinsic stains require a tooth whitening procedure in order to remove.

 

How does tooth whitening work?

Tooth whitening removes intrinsic stains using an agent containing peroxide (not bleach!).  The peroxide penetrates into the pores within the teeth where they break down and eliminate the stained particles embedded in the tooth enamel.  The result is whiter, brighter teeth.

 

Does tooth whitening work for everyone?

Tooth whitening works effectively for most people, but there are some conditions where it may not be the best option.  Teeth that are discolored as a result of conditions such as fluorosis, tetracycline staining, decalcification, or developmental disorders of the tooth enamel usually do not respond to traditional tooth whitening.  Also crowns, veneers, and fillings will not change color with whitening.

 

How do I know if tooth whitening will work for me?

If you are interested in whitening your teeth, your dentist should complete a thorough clinical exam and also review your past medical and dental treatment history to make a recommendation.  It is also important that the mouth be clean and healthy with no cavities, infections, or active gum problems before considering tooth whitening.

 

What if I’m not a good candidate for tooth whitening?  Are there other ways to get a whiter smile?

Your dentist can review options such as bonding, veneers, or crowns as alternative options if whitening is not an option.

 

What type of tooth whitening does Dr. Yoon recommend?

At Dr. Yoon’s office we recommend ZOOM whitening.  It is a procedure that is completed in our office in a single visit that takes about 60-90 minutes to complete.

 

Is Zoom whitening better than the whitening strips that I can buy at the store?

Whitening strips purchased over the counter can be effective when used properly.  They usually require that the strips be worn daily for up to two weeks to see results. The advantage of the Zoom! system is that it uses a more effective concentration of whitening peroxide that is only available in a dental office.  It works much more quickly and effectively and is completed in a single session.

 

Are there any side effects to tooth whitening?

The most common side effect of any tooth whitening system is sensitivity of the teeth and gums either during or for a short time after the procedure.  This temporary sensitivity is a result of the peroxide drying out the teeth.  The level of sensitivity varies from person to person, but can be managed with desensitizing toothpastes and rinses if needed.

 

How long will tooth whitening last?

On average, the results of a professional tooth whitening system such as Zoom may last around one year.  However, this varies greatly based on diet, home care, and commitment to regular professional dental cleanings.

 

Dr. Brian H. Yoon is a dentist in North Andover, MA.  He practices comprehensive general and esthetic dentistry for adults and provides care for children as well.