Is Home Teeth Whitening the Best Bleaching Choice for You?

A positive first impression is important in life. A nice smile and white teeth make a first impression that can last a lifetime. It is no secret that teeth lose their whiteness as we age, and that can make for a bad impression. Hollywood celebrities know this and that's why... Read More

The Basics Of Professional Teeth Whitening Gel

If you are searching for a way to improve your smile and do not want to undergo expensive and evasive cosmetic dental procedures such as dental veneers or bonding, then consulting your dentist about professional teeth whitening gel is the way to go.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration

Teeth naturally change in color and become slightly yellow or brownish as we age.  Smoking, tobacco use, drinking red wine and drinking soda can also result in darkening of teeth, as can drinking tea of coffee.

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Other causes of tooth discoloration include medical conditions, such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer, medications such as tetracycline and drug use of methamphetamines and other drugs.

Methods of Whitening

Tooth whitening can be accomplished with the use of over the counter products like whitening toothpastes, white strips or whitening gels and rinses.  These products provide a gradual whitening process that can address superficial tooth discoloration.

One of the best teeth whiteners is , whitening toothpastes because it utilizes gently abrasive ingredients such as calcium carbonate or silica, which scrub the surface of the tooth.  However, whitening toothpastes, because of their abrasive nature can also result in damage to tooth enamel, particularly with overly zealous brushing.

Whitening gels can be used via white strips or through over the counter trays.  This type of bleaching system uses small amounts of hydrogen peroxide to bleach the teeth and give a whiter appearance.  The disadvantage of using an over the counter tray system is that the trays are not custom fitted to the patient’s mouth and may result in jaw pain, be awkward to use and simply be uncomfortable.

A variation on the whitening tray system is professional teeth whitening gel bleaching systems available from  a dentist or cosmetic dental expert.  The professional whitening system uses trays that are custom made for the patient’s mouth through the use of dental impressions.  These trays are usually made of very thin plastic and are easy to use and comfortable to wear.

Side Effects

There are two common side effects from tooth whitening procedures – tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.

Tooth sensitivity is usually a temporary sensation, although it can certainly be uncomfortable.  One way to address this problem is to use a sensitivity toothpaste temporarily until the sensation disappears.  Overuse of tooth bleaching can result in permanent and uncomfortable thinning of tooth enamel, making the teeth permanently sensitive to extreme temperatures, such as heat and cold, plus irritants such as sugar and other substances.

Gum sensitivity is often the result of the gums coming into contact with the bleaching agents in the whitening gel.  While gum sensitivity is uncomfortable, it is usually temporary and can be alleviated by rinsing the mouth thoroughly after removing the gel trays.

If you are considering having a tooth whitening procedure, consult your dentist for a full evaluation.  While most tooth discoloration is a normal part of aging and is usually easily resolved with a topical whitening procedure, some causes of tooth discoloration cannot be resolved with a surface treatment.  Your dentist will be able to provide you with a thorough evaluation and recommendation for the best cosmetic dental treatment for you.