Is Teeth Whitening for You?
Chronic infectious disease in the world. Population surveys and studies
done in the United States indicate that more than 50 percent of seen in
stores and the bleaching treatments available at your dentist's office,
you may wonder which, if any, are right for you.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you talk to your
dentist before making any decision about whitening your teeth. It may
not be for you. People with sensitive teeth, grayish discolorations, prior
bonding or certain types of fillings in their front teeth are not good
candidates for bleaching. If you fit one of those descriptions, talk to
your dentist about other options.
If your dentist recommends bleaching, then - depending on your needs,
your pocketbook and your dentist's advice - there are several choices
If you have any cavities, your dentist will fill them before bleaching.
Otherwise, the whitener can penetrate cavities and cause pain.
Lasers are used to enhance the action of whitening agents. There are presently
no ADA-approved products that use lasers. Laser bleaching can be costly
- approximately $1,000 - and usually isn't covered by insurance.
In-office bleaching allows your dentist to supervise your progress. The
ADA has given its Seal of Acceptance to a number of in-office bleaching
products. The Seal lets you know that the product has met ADA safety and
Your dentist will first apply a protective gel to prevent gum irritation.
Afterwards, a bleaching agent will be applied and a special light may
be used to activate the whitener.
The cost of in-office bleaching is not usually covered by insurance plans,
but is about half the price of laser bleaching. You will visit your dentist
one to three times and each visit will last about 30 to 90 minutes.
You can buy at-home whiteners from your dentist or over-the-counter. These
whiteners contain peroxide and usually come in a gel that you place inside
a mouthguard. You will wear this for several hours a day for two weeks,
or overnight for one to two weeks. The advantage of buying the kit from
your dentist is that he or she can custom-fit your mouthpiece so that
bleach won't leak out and irritate your gums. Only certain at-home
whiteners that are available in dentist's offices carry the ADA Seal
of Acceptance at this time.
Whitening toothpastes improve the appearance of your teeth by removing
stains with polishes, chemicals and other non-bleaching agents. Look for
the ADA Seal of Acceptance when buying a whitening toothpaste.
Causes of discoloration
Yellowing and staining are usually caused by tobacco, coffee, tea and aging.
Discoloration can also be caused by too much fluoride in childhood and
certain medications. Tooth whitening works best on teeth that have been
stained by food, drinks and aging.
Effects of whitening
Whitening is successful about 90 percent of the time. Your teeth will usually
lighten about two shades, but the results aren't permanent. If you
continue eating and drinking the products that cause staining, you will
need to re-bleach sooner. If you need to drink coffee, tea or soda, the
Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) recommends drinking them through a
straw to prevent discoloration of the front upper teeth.
Since children have more sensitive teeth than adults, the AGD does not
recommend whitening until after age 14 - when tooth pulp is fully formed.