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Schedule Tooth Whitening for a Great Back-To-School Smile

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Dental Tips

Head back to class with a fresh new smile when you whiten your teeth. Here’s what you should know about professional tooth whitening, as well as the side effects and people who shouldn’t use tooth whitening.

Teeth Need Treatment Before Tooth Whitening

When you schedule you a consult for teeth whitening at your dental office, your dentist will examine your teeth thoroughly. The dentist looks for problems with your teeth that can affect the success of your whitening procedure.

After the examination, the dentist will correct any problems with your teeth. For example, if you have cavities, the dentist will treat the affected teeth. If your tooth has discoloration due to dead pulp in the tooth, the dentist bleaches the pulp area during a root canal procedure before scheduling your tooth-whitening treatment.

The dental hygienist or dentist professionally cleans your teeth. Tooth-cleaning treatment removes surface plaque, bacteria, and debris that may interfere with the whitening agents that bleach teeth.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Dental Stains Are Noted Before Whitening

During your dental examination, your dentist determines the type of stains present on your teeth. Some tooth stains are easier to remove than other types of tooth discoloration. The two main types of dental stains are intrinsic and extrinsic stains.

Intrinsic stains are discolorations beneath your tooth enamel. A variety of conditions can cause intrinsic staining, including the following:

  • Thinner enamel due to aging
  • Long-term antibiotic use
  • Overexposure to fluoride (fluorosis)
  • Cavities
  • Amalgam tooth repairs
  • Intrapupal bleeding
  • Pulp necrosis

Extrinsic dental stains show up on the surfaces of teeth. Personal habits and teeth degradation cause extrinsic stains on teeth. Some causes of extrinsic dental stains include the following:

  • Tobacco use
  • Coffee and cola consumption
  • Red wine and/or tea consumption
  • Highly pigmented foods and beverages
  • Whitening toothpaste use

Whitening technology can whiten many stains, including those from coffee drinking and tobacco use. However, some stains, including those resulting from childhood antibiotics, are not easy to bleach with the available whitening products.

Various Dentist-Prescribed Products Whiten Teeth

Your dentist might perform the tooth-whitening procedure in the office, but they can also give you prescription tooth-whitening products to apply at home with your dentist’s support.

These tooth-whitening products are professional-grade, and they often require custom fittings to make the teeth trays fit the unique contours of your mouth. This evenly distributes the whitening agent around your teeth without harming your gums or wasting any of the whitening solution.

Your dentist can take impressions of your teeth to make sure the trays you use are customized to your mouth. After they take the impressions in dental putty, they’ll send them to the manufacturer to make the trays. The process usually takes a few weeks, so schedule your appointment ahead of time.

Your dentist will also record the current shade of your teeth to compare once you start whitening treatments. When you come back for a visit, your dentist will be able to see how much the color of your teeth has changed.

Once you have your trays, your dentist will walk you through the proper ways of whitening your teeth. Usually, you fill the special mouthpiece with a peroxide gel that bleaches the teeth in the comfort of your home. Your dentist will also explain how you can get the best results from your whitening kit.

At-home dental whitening takes a week or two. You’ll wear the special peroxide-filled mouthpiece for an hour or two each day during the treatment period. However, some at-home dental whitening treatments are for overnight use. Talk to you dentist to learn what kinds of kits they offer.

Tooth Whitening Can Cause Side Effects

As with any product or treatment, some people experience side effects after undergoing tooth-bleaching procedures. Some patients report increased sensitivity in their teeth for several days after the initial whitening treatment. Teeth may become sensitive to cold beverages and foods, but the sensitivity normally disappears after whitening treatment is complete.

Additional side effects of tooth whitening include:

  • Gum discomfort
  • Sore throat
  • White patches on gumline

Like whitening-related tooth sensitivity, the above side effects should stop after the final whitening procedure.

Tooth Whitening Is Not for Everyone

Some patients are not eligible for peroxide-based tooth bleaching. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does not recommend cosmetic bleaching for children who have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, since the tooth color may mismatch when all of the permanent teeth have erupted.

Other types of patients not eligible or advised to receive tooth whitening include:

  • Patients with tooth-colored crowns
  • Patients with tooth-colored dental implants
  • Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Patients under 16 years of age
  • Patients with tooth sensitivity
  • Patients with allergies to peroxide
  • Patients with worn tooth enamel

Since hydrogen peroxide bleaching agents can cause pain and sensitivity in the gums, patients with gum disease should not do tooth-whitening procedures. If a patient has receding gums with discoloration below the normal gumline, bleaching agents will not whiten the below-gumline stains.

Schedule your back-to-school tooth-whitening treatment in Manteca, Ripon, or French Camp, California, by contacting Valley Oak Dental Group today.