Dr. Robert E. Lane D.M.D.
in Boca Raton, FL
Teeth Whitening in Boca Raton, FL
Brushing and flossing every day will help keep your teeth bright, white and healthy. However, if you feel like your teeth are discolored and your smile lacks some sparkle, you aren’t the only one. When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry surveyed people about what they’d like to improve about their smile, the respondents overwhelmingly chose whiter teeth. When the American Association of Orthodontists asked a similar question, they found that almost 90% of their patients also wanted teeth whitening.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
The process of teeth whitening lightens the teeth and removes discoloration and stains. It is one of the most requested cosmetic dental treatments because it can greatly and noticeably improve how your teeth look.
What causes teeth discoloration?
Your teeth can become discolored for many reasons, including age, staining from food and drink, and some medications. Below is a list of some common reasons your smile can go from white to not-so-bright.
Food and Drink
Red wine, tea, coffee, dark sodas and sports drinks, as well as blueberries and tomato sauce, are some of the foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. All of them have intense color pigments called chromogens that attach to and stain your tooth enamel.
Tar and nicotine, two chemicals found in tobacco, create stubborn stains on your teeth. Nicotine is colorless but when mixed with oxygen it turns into a yellowish substance that stains. Tar is naturally dark and also stains. Smoking and chewing tobacco are two of the ways tar and nicotine can stain your teeth.
The hard white outer shell of your teeth, the enamel, protects the softer dentin that lies beneath it. However, the enamel gets thinner over time due to brushing, and increasingly the yellowish dentin shows through.
If you get hit in the mouth, your tooth might change color. It reacts to this injury by creating more dentin under the enamel.
Some high blood pressure medications, as well as antipsychotics and antihistamines, can darken your teeth. Young children who took antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline when their teeth were developing – either before birth or as an infant – may have discoloration of their adult teeth. Head and neck radiation and chemotherapy may also darken the teeth.
How Does Teeth Whitening work?
The teeth whitening process is pretty simple and straightforward. Whitening products contain a bleaching agent, either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. The chemicals break stains down, making the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter. Your dentist may recommend that you have a fluoride treatment after your whitening session. This can help minimize your teeth’s thermal sensitivity and promote the remineralization of areas that may react to the slightly acidic teeth whiteners.
Is It Safe?
Teeth whitening techniques have improved during the last decade. In the past, the higher bleaching agent concentrations resulted in more sensitivity, however, today’s bleaching gels are well buffered so that sensitivity has been lessened. Some sensitivity may occur when you eat cold or hot foods, but this usually disappears after 48 hours and is not a permanent side effect of the treatment.
How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?
Tooth whitening provides dramatic results that lasts up to 12 years. Some deterioration of shade is likely to occur within 1-3 years. This is affected by factors such as tooth dehydration, patient after-care and the original cause of discoloration. Approximately half of the patients who had their teeth whitened reported that their results lasted between 9 and 12 years. Only 10% experienced a deterioration of shade within the first year, and 38% noticed a difference after 3 years.
Avoiding staining food, drink and other substances will help maintain the results of your tooth whitening treatment. This includes black coffee, red wines, blueberries, curries, and nicotine products.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
The teeth whitening procedure takes a little more than an hour. The process begins with a preparation period that is followed by an hour of whitening. It is recommended that patients have a cleaning prior to the actual teeth whitening session.
Professional Teeth Whitening vs Over-the-Counter Whiteners
Over the counter products such as toothpastes and strips vary not only in their prices, but also in their effectiveness and difficulty of use. Professional teeth whitening is fast, effective and safe. Your cosmetic dentist can either apply the treatment for you, or fit you with customized trays so that you can apply the treatment at home. The results from professional teeth whitening can be immediate – your teeth may be up to 8 shades whiter in approximately 45 minutes. Because a cosmetic dentist is involved, the process is reliable, safe and hassle free.
Zoom whitening is an in-office treatment that takes approximately an hour and gives you whiter teeth. Your cosmetic dentist will put a protective covering on your gums and use a light to activate the bleaching gel. That’s it, you just sit and relax. You also are given take home bleach to touch up at home if you notice any darkening.
Teeth Whitening Side Effects
Most people choose in-office whitening for the peace of mind that comes from knowing the procedure was done right. The bleaching chemicals used in a dental office are stronger than at-home methods. The dentist may also use a bleaching lamp that heightens the effects of the bleach and gives you faster results.
However, if the bleach touches your gums, it can be irritating. And the stronger the bleach, the greater the irritation. A cosmetic dentist will use special protection on your gums and the nerve roots of your teeth so that the bleach does not cause irritation. Any issues usually heal on their own after the bleach is removed.
An at-home treatment prescribed by a dentist involves a mouthguard or tray that holds the gel in place. This may be appealing if you already suffer from gum disease.
Tooth sensitivity is also a common side-effect. If you already suffer from tooth sensitivity, there is the potential for transient sensitivity if your teeth react to extreme temperatures. In general, this sensitivity does not last very long unless you have preexisting enamel issues. In this case, you should see a dentist. If you have teeth with decay, fractured structures, or broken fillings, you may feel more lasting and significant discomfort.
There have been rare cases that suggest that tooth whitening bleach can affect your fillings and cause them to release mercury. The mercury content in fillings is benign in content and the bleach will not destroy other restorations such as implants or crowns. There is no effect on white fillings or resin composite materials used in veneers, bonding, and bridges.
The cost of your teeth whitening will depend on the option you choose: in-office or take-home treatment.
Results and Outcome
A whiter, brighter smile is the main result of teeth whitening. Almost everyone who chooses to have their teeth whitened sees moderate to impressive results in the whiteness and brightness of their smile. However, whitening is not a permanent solution, and while results vary, some maintenance or touch-ups are usually required for long-term results.