When was the last time someone complimented you on your smile? At Whittier Dental Arts, we know that having a smile you love can be a tremendous boost to your self-esteem and confidence. When you are pleased with your smile, you are more likely to wear it, and that’s something people notice. Smiling frequently conveys friendliness, warmth, and approachability. So if you are unhappy with your smile, now is the time to do something about it – call our office today! Your extreme smile makeover is waiting for you!
What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is a procedure that removes stains and discoloration from teeth. Teeth have coat enamel surface that is composed of crystalline rods. The enamel serves to protect the teeth from the abuse that they receive throughout the day, such as chewing and attacks of acid from sugar. As we get older, the enamel on our teeth begins to wear. Dentin, which is the core material of our teeth, will start to show as a yellow coloration. The enamel will also begin to crack over time, and these cracks, coupled with spaces between the crystalline rods, will begin to collect stains. With the passage of time, teeth will lose their brightness. Teeth whitening treatments are effective at removing some of the stains but the cracks in the enamel will remain, and the staining process will start all over again.
Causes of Stains on the Teeth
Staining of the teeth can be caused by a number of different factors:
- Age: The older we get, the more our teeth will darken. This darkening is the dual result of wear on the teeth, and accumulation of stains that build up over the years.
- The original color of teeth: Your teeth are genetically predisposed to a certain color range. It could be a yellow-brown color or it might be green-gray. This color will naturally deepen with time.
- Thinness and translucency: The thinness and translucency of your teeth are also genetic and will become more obvious with the passage of time. If you have thicker teeth, they will have a lighter hue to them and respond better to whitening procedures. Thinner teeth will not fare as well because of less pigment.
- Foods and Beverages: Certain foods and beverages will have an effect on your teeth. Coffee, tea, dark soda and red wine discolor the teeth. Acidic foods can actually also erode the enamel, allowing more of the yellow dentin to show on the surface.
- Smoking: Nicotine is not kind to teeth, leaving brown stains that can actually be absorbed into the tooth structure.
- Medications: Certain drugs, such as tetracycline, can cause ribbon stains of a brown or grayish color on the teeth. Even too much fluoride can cause a problem, creating a condition known as fluorosis, which is a mottling of white coloration on the teeth.
Teeth Whitening Procedure
First, Dr. Gutierrez checks the teeth for cavities as the whitening gel can cause serious damage if it leaks into these areas. If cavities are found, they must be repaired before tooth whitening takes place. If there are no cavities, we will begin the whitening process. Your teeth can be up to 9 shades whiter in just about 1 hour. The process is quick, easy, and comfortable. Under the supervision of Dr. Gutierrez, the whitening treatments are completely safe and will not harm teeth or gums. Our whitening lasts a long time. This means you will experience very little whitening loss over time if you maintain good dental habits.
Teeth Whitening Shade Guides
At Whittier Dental Arts, before-and-after tooth color is typically measured with shade guides. These are hand-held displays of wide ranges of tooth colors. (Dr. Gutierrez also uses them in choosing crown and other restoration shades.)
The standard-setter among them has long been the Vitapan Classic Shade Guide. This shade guide standard incorporates 16 shades, systematically arranged from light to dark into four color groups, and provides a universal tooth-color terminology.
While whitening can occasionally lighten tooth color by nine or more shades, most of those who bleach their teeth are likely to see a change of two to seven shades.
Teeth Whitening Risks
Teeth whitening treatments are considered to be safe when procedures are followed as directed. However, there are certain risks associated with bleaching that you should be aware of:
- Sensitivity: Bleaching can cause a temporary increase in sensitivity to temperature, pressure and touch. This is likeliest to occur during in-office whitening, where higher-concentration bleach is used. Some individuals experience spontaneous shooting pains (“zingers”) down the middle of their front teeth. Individuals at greatest risk for whitening sensitivity are those with gum recession, significant cracks in their teeth or leakage resulting from faulty restorations. It has also been reported that redheads, including those with no other risk factors, are at particular risk for tooth sensitivity and zingers. Whitening sensitivity lasts no longer than a day or two, but in some cases may persist up to a month. Some dentists recommend a toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for sensitive teeth.
- Gum irritation: Over half of those who use peroxide whiteners experience some degree of gum irritation resulting from the bleach concentration or from contact with the whitening trays. Such irritation typically lasts up to several days, dissipating after bleaching has stopped or the peroxide concentration lowered.
- Technicolor teeth: Restorations such as bonding, dental crowns or porcelain veneers are not affected by bleach and therefore maintain their default color while the surrounding teeth are whitened. This results in what is frequently called “Technicolor teeth”.
Maintaining Your Teeth Whitening Results
To extend the longevity of newly whitened teeth, Dr. Gutierrez recommends:
- At-home follow-up or maintenance whitening – implemented immediately or performed as infrequently as once a year.
- Avoiding dark-colored foods and beverages for at least a week after whitening.
- Whenever possible, sipping dark-colored beverages with a straw.
- Practicing excellent oral hygiene– brushing and flossing after meals and at bedtime.
In addition to the aforementioned risk factors, a number of caveats should be considered before undergoing teeth whitening:
- No amount of bleaching will yield “unnaturally” white teeth.
- Whitening results are not fully seen until approximately two weeks after bleaching. This is an important consideration if you are about to have ceramic restorations and want to be sure the color matches that of your newly bleached teeth.
- If cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers or other restorations are part of your treatment plan, they should not be placed until a minimum of two weeks following bleaching to ensure proper adhesive bonding, function and shade matching.
- To avoid the Technicolor effect, tooth-colored restorations will likely need replacement after bleaching.
- Recessed gums often reveal their yellowish root surfaces at the gum line. That yellow color has proven difficult to bleach.
- Pregnant or nursing women are advised to avoid teeth whitening. The potential impact of swallowed bleach on the fetus or baby is not yet known.
Did you know that teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic treatment performed today? It’s no wonder, because all of us experience natural discoloration of our teeth as we age. By time we reach our 30s, lifestyle, smoking, heredity, some foods and drinks and gum disease may all begin to take a toll on our previously pearly whites.
Dr. Gutierrez has dedicated a portion of his practice to teeth whitening, because he knows how important it is to make a great first impression—and a lasting impression – with a beautiful smile. At Whittier Dental Arts we offer an array of tooth whitening options, including in-office and at-home tooth whitening.
Who doesn’t want to restore their teeth to youthful brightness? Today, there’s no reason why you can’t have a celebrity smile in under an hour. To schedule your complimentary consultation, please contact Whittier Dental Arts today.