Is teeth whitening for everyone?
"A good pair of shoes can take you to good places."
I will tell you this: "Good teeth can get you good food, bright teeth can get you bright friends". We tend to attract alike people. Do you agree with me?
For this reason, there is surely an increased demand for teeth whitening. A lot of dental companies offer affordable teeth whitening sets, ready to take home and use. It can bring you value if and only if you have good oral health.
A patient of mine came in for halitosis consultation. He can not stand his bad breath. When I did the exam, I noticed his teeth have uneven stain and the gum is so red, spongy and swelling. This condition may happen when you have bad oral hygiene but his condition was a lot worse. He told me that he bought teeth whitening kit recently and since then his gum bled everytime he brushed his teeth. This bleeding prevented him from brushing regularly. Hello Halitosis!
This is only one example among thousand of conditions that wrongly done whitening can do to you. So if you have been thinking of having your teeth whitened, let me walk you through the steps. Are you ready?
1. What causes teeth to be yellow and to lose its brightness?
- Food and drinks: Tannins in coffee and tea, chromogens in food coloring can get your teeth stained more and more with time.
- Tobacco: tar and nicotine in tobacco is the culprit of stubborn stains in heavy smokers. It stains not only teeth but also all the surfaces that it gets in contact with. (Imagine someone with yellow teeth and yellow lung) 😃
- Medications: certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications can cause tooth darkening. Some antibiotics (tetracycline and doxycycline) when absorbed in early stages (as a baby or during pregnancy) can cause uneven dark shade on teeth.
- Trauma or infection can change a tooth to a much darker shade if not treated.
- Age: natural teeth darkening. With time, the texture and shade of tooth structure changes and gives out the yellow-greyish shade.
When you understand what causes tooth darkening, you now also know why teeth whitening does not work for every case.
2. How teeth whitening works?
There are 2 ways to do teeth whitening (TW), in-office and take home tray. The advantage of in-office whitening is that the gum is isolated during the whole procedure. Whitening gel contains either carbomide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These are active ingredients. You can only do in-office TW under doctor's supervision and clearance of all conditions that can intervene with the procedure. It only takes 1hour for 2-3 shade upgrade. Also, after TW, another coat of fluoride or desensitizers will be applied to all the teeth to help with tooth sensitivity. That is totally a winning game. On the contrary, take home TW tray has its bad sides and good sides. Cheap, convenient and flexible timing is its advantages. But at the end of the day, if you experience uncontrolled tooth sensitity, gum burning sensations, would you be happy? Which one do you think you deserve more? The difference in price is insignificant over a period of 2 years span. So think twice before you decide.
3. What can I do if I don't have access to TW?
Beside tooth whitening method, flossing and brushing regularly can help to remove the stain. Limited on taking coloring food/drink can help but it is not always doable. We all want to enjoy life to the max. CarpeDiem, isn't it?
There are some toothpastes that are commercialized to fit the "stain removal" purpose but overuse it can cause teeth abrasion. The protective layer of enamel could be worn out and cause long term tooth sensitivity.
To end this article, I only give you one advice, let your dentist help you find out your teeth darkening cause before you decide which TW method you would go for. I wish you the brightest smile in the brightest world. Cheers!
An article by Diem Cao DDS
8813 Alondra Blvd, Paramount, CA 90723.
Tel: (424) 381- 4004