One of the values of our society is having a pretty smile, with straight, bright white teeth. Having a bright white smile makes us feel good about ourselves and conveys confidence. We even feel better because we smile more often and laugh a little more. Whether or not to whiten is a personal decision. You may have a job interview coming up, or an event like a wedding or birthday to attend. If you decide you want a whiter smile, the first thing you should do before attempting over the counter whitening toothpastes or whitening strips is to have you mouth evaluated by a dental professional.
Having an evaluation will determine the best type of whitening product, or procedure for you. The dental professional will evaluate your teeth, and any crowns and fillings that you have. Only natural teeth will whiten with any whitening process. Fillings, crowns, veneers, and bonding will not whiten. There are a few types of stain that are stubborn to whiten, and your dental professional will determine this from your comprehensive dental and medical history. If you have that type of difficult stain, don’t worry, whitening is not the best treatment for you, but there are other options. Cosmetic porcelain crowns and cosmetic veneers are great options to get a whiter smile, and also can alter the shape of your teeth too if you have a smaller tooth or chipped tooth that you’d like to change. The dental professional will also assess the health of your gums. It’s best to have healthy gums prior to whitening, as gum tissue is the foundation to support healthy teeth.
Professional whitening gel gives better and longer lasting results to over the counter products as the gel is higher strength and reaches deeper into the tooth to get the yellow out. The gel is applied by the patient at home into custom made trays and worn for a specified amount of time determined by the dental provider, usually just an hour a day, for 1 to 2 weeks depending on the amount of whitening desired. If time is not a factor, whitening just the upper teeth first, and not whitening the lower teeth provides a basis for comparison of the tooth color and progression of the whitening process. Of course, it is fine to whiten both upper and lower teeth at the same time, and when you reach the desired shade, discontinue use of the gel.
Whitening teeth is a safe procedure. Any type of whitening process may cause temporary tooth sensitivity. If you already have sensitive teeth, discuss this with your dental provider as they have special tips and instructions that may help to decrease the amount of sensitivity you experience when whitening. As the old adage goes, “no pain, no gain.” But remember the sensitivity is temporary. Avoiding very hot and cold beverages, and using a desensitizing toothpaste while whitening will decrease the amount of sensitivity. Just be sure to make an appointment with your family dentist or general cosmetic dentist for a whitening evaluation first! Happy whitening 🙂