Millions of people suffer from dental discoloration to varying degrees. Even those who brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly may find that food, environmental factors, and the passage of time will eventually take their toll on the natural radiance of their teeth. Fortunately, a professional teeth whitening system is an incredibly effective way to lighten or altogether eliminate stains and achieve a naturally white smile.
Today, you have more whitening options than ever before. Although there are many over-the-counter products to choose from, professional, dentist-supervised treatment is safer and offers more dependable results. Many cosmetic dentists offer both in-office and at-home treatment options from reputable, trusted manufacturers.
Results vary depending on your dental health and the treatment you choose. However, the vast majority of patients have been satisfied with the outcome of their whitening treatment. Side effects are rare and mild, and the treatment is convenient and non-invasive. Following a professional whitening regimen, you could enjoy a dramatically improved smile and a huge boost of self-confidence.
Whitening & Bleaching:
In many cases, the terms "whitening" and "bleaching" are used interchangeably. Technically, however, any product that removes food or debris from teeth can be classified as a "whitening" product. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term "bleaching" can only be used when a product contains bleach (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). Bleaching can lighten teeth beyond their natural shade. As oxygen molecules penetrate your dental enamel, they will break apart the chemical bonds between stains.
Teeth whitening is a low-risk procedure, and therefore it is suitable for a wide range of patients. Candidates for teeth whitening typically have mild to moderate discoloration, and they want to achieve a sparkling smile. However, there are certain factors that may preclude patients from being good candidates for treatment. These include:
• Patients with fabrications or restorations on the front facing teeth (such as porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or dental bonding):
Unlike natural teeth, restorative material does not respond to bleaching agents. Typically, if these patients do choose teeth whitening, they will also need replace their restorations. The new crowns or veneers will match the enhanced colour of their smile.
• Patients with intrinsic stains:
Intrinsic stains are gray discolorations, white spots on the teeth, or discoloration that results from a "dead" tooth. These stains affect the underlying layers of the tooth. In general, teeth whitening is most effective on extrinsic stains (the yellow or brown stains) that affect the outer enamel.
• Patients with extreme tooth sensitivity or worn enamel:
Whitening may exacerbate these conditions.
• Patients with bruxism or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD):
Whitening trays may worsen these conditions. If patients with these health concerns wish to lighten their smiles, they may be better candidates for in-office whitening.
Temporary Side Effects:
Although teeth whitening rarely causes long term damage, temporary sensitivity is not uncommon. If you experience any discomfort following your treatment, your dentist can often help you to minimize irritation.
Dental sensitivity is the most common side effect of teeth whitening. It will typically dissipate within a few days of your treatment. While there is no way to predict, who may develop the condition, certain patients face a higher risk for post-whitening sensitivity. You are more likely to experience this side effect if you:
• Already have sensitive teeth
• Notice changes in the sensitivity of your teeth following a hygienic cleaning
• Experience sensitivity following brushing, flossing, or fluoride treatments
Gum irritation is one of the most common side effects associated with teeth whitening. This condition may result from:
• Using an ill-fitting bleaching tray
• Failure of the protective barrier during in-office treatment
• Overuse of a whitening agent.
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