Everything You Want to Know About Tooth Whitening

June 14, 2019

With summer almost here, many people start thinking about whitening their teeth. Although there are certain considerations to be made, almost anyone can whiten their teeth. This month we’ll discuss the safety of tooth whitening as well as the options we provide to patients.

Is it safe to whiten my teeth?

One of the most common questions we receive about whitening is, “Is it safe?” Both over the counter products as well as in office procedures are safe for the teeth when used as directed.. Overuse of these products may result in damage to the enamel, but if you’re able to follow directions this isn’t an issue. Whitening of any kind may make the teeth more sensitive (temporarily), especially if you have recession. It’s important to remember that this sensitivity, is not an indicator that anything is wrong. If you have severe recession or erosion/wear on the teeth, you may be advised not to whiten or to whiten with modifications. In any case it is important to ask your dentist if you’re a good candidate for whitening. It’s important to note that crowns and fillings will not whiten, they will remain whatever color they were at placement.

In office whitening using Zoom.

Ultraviolet light is used to activate the whitening gel in a Zoom procedure.

Whitening Options

-Toothpaste: this is the first and easiest place to start. Many whitening pastes contain the same ingredients but others may be more abrasive. We recommend doing a bit of research to determine which option is best for you.

-Strips: Whitening strips have been around for awhile now and are a quick way to lighten teeth in a pinch. They are a bit tricky to use as they don’t always stay in place well. If you need a quick whitening option for an event and can’t make it in to the office, the strips are an easy choice.

-Customized Whitening Trays: We offer complimentary whitening trays to all of our new patients.  We will take a scan or mold of your teeth and make custom trays. We provide the whitening gel with instructions. As long as you maintain appointments and don’t neglect your oral health, we’ll continue to supply the whitening gel. All you have to do is ask at your hygiene visit! The trays take an initial 2 weeks of daily use to achieve maximum whitening but from there require touch ups as needed.

-In Office Whitening (ZOOM): We offer ZOOM for our in office whitening. This is a product and technique offered by Phillips (makers of Sonicare). The ZOOM whitening is a 90 minute in office appointment. We apply a whitening gel to the teeth that is then activated by a blue UV light. ZOOM is the best option to get your teeth the lightest shade in the fastest amount of time. If you have time to plan before an event, this is the option to choose!

Don’t Forget Good Homecare!

We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t highlight the fact that good homecare, will help keep your teeth white naturally. Brushing twice per day with an electric toothbrush and flossing or using a water flosser daily will help prevent plaque and stain buildup that discolors teeth. We also recommend a source of fluoride. It’s a good idea to use a sensitive or high concentration fluoride toothpaste, leading up to whitening to help prevent sensitivity.

Tooth whitening strips applied to teeth.

Whiter teeth can be achieved with whitening strips, although they are sometimes difficult to apply.

How Long will the Results Last?

This is another FAQ. Whitening results are very much dependent on your homecare (discussed above) and your habits. If you’re a habitual coffee drinker, it’s a safe bet that your teeth with stain faster than someone who isn’t. Similarly if you frequently drink red wine or tea, you can expect similar outcomes. A couple of tips to try are to rinse with water after consuming these beverages or consume through a straw to prevent the staining liquids from flowing over teeth. The better homecare you have and the less staining beverages you drink the longer you can expect your results to last. Don’t count yourselves out though coffee drinkers, ZOOM whitening may work wonders that you’re able to maintain with at home trays a bit more frequently.

We’d love to discuss the best whitening options for you! Everyone’s mouth and habits are different and what works best for you, may not be the best for someone else. Like all of our treatment planning, we enjoy tailoring our recommendations based on your individual needs. Feel free to discuss with your hygienist at your next visit



Mouth Healthy: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/whitening

Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-whitening/tooth-whitening

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