Teeth whitening is the practice of using certain substances, such as hydrogen peroxide, to brighten the color of a patient's teeth. Professional teeth whitening treatments can help people enjoy better results than at-home kits for a whiter and brighter smile, and with fewer side effects as well. How long the treatment lasts depends on a…
3 Tips for Professional Teeth Whitening
The American Dental Association notes that multiple surveys show that patients are interested in teeth whitening. Whitening is one of the most requested cosmetic dental treatments. This simple procedure can remove years of staining and discolorations from teeth, giving them a brighter and more youthful appearance.
The over-the-counter market is flooded with whitening products, and patients can become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. However, these products have their setbacks, especially when it comes to ease of use and gum irritation. When done incorrectly, the finished product can have an uneven or splotchy appearance, resulting in a smile that is still unsightly. Also, some formulas are not powerful enough for tougher stains.
For these reasons, many patients find that they prefer to schedule an appointment with a dentist instead. There are many benefits to professional teeth whitening. These advantages include safety and more predictable results. Patients interested in this type of treatment should ask a dentist these questions at a consultation.
Questions to ask before professional teeth whitening
Due to all the misinformation about teeth whitening, patients must discuss this treatment in-depth with a dentist. Before having professional whitening, patients should know what results to expect and how to care for their teeth afterward.
1. Am I a candidate for teeth whitening?
Unfortunately, not all patients are candidates for teeth whitening. Those with severe dental decay or gum disease need to address those issues before focusing on cosmetic treatments.
Some medical conditions may disqualify a patient from receiving whitening treatment. For example, most dentists advise pregnant women to wait until after birth to whiten their teeth. Some dentists may also set a minimum age requirement for teeth whitening. Dentists enforce this restriction because adolescents' teeth are still developing, and whitening treatment is not recommended.
If a patient has crowns or veneers on the front teeth, the dentist will advise against using whitening agents. Teeth whitening solutions do not work on porcelain or composite and can damage the surface of the restorations.
Finally, certain discolorations are not effectively treated with tooth whitening procedures. Yellow staining caused by plaque, dietary choices, or tobacco use can be removed. However, discolorations caused by injury or enamel loss will not respond to whitening treatments. These tend to be grayer in color instead of yellow and require alternative smile restoration treatments.
2. How can I manage post-treatment sensitivity?
One downside to teeth whitening is post-treatment sensitivity. In the past, this was a concern for almost every whitening agent. Fortunately, though, there are now some whitening systems that do not cause as much sensitivity as others.
Patients should ask the dentist how much (if any) sensitivity to expect after professional teeth whitening. The dentist may recommend a toothpaste formulated for sensitivity. The patient may also need to use fluoride rinses for sensitivity. Avoiding extremely hot or cold foods and beverages can also help.
3. How long will the results last?
The longevity of teeth whitening results depends on two things: The whitening system used and the patient's compliance. Some professional whitening systems use more potent agents that create longer-lasting results. Some whitening solutions designed to cause less sensitivity may provide shorter-lasting results.
A patient's daily habits affect the longevity of teeth whitening. If a patient drinks lots of dark beverages such as coffee or tea, whitening results will not last as long. Drinking through a straw can help, but these drinks will still stain the teeth. Patients must have realistic expectations about whitening results and their persistence.
Many dentists recommend a white food diet for the first few days after treatment when the enamel pores are still open and can be more prone to staining. Avoid foods and beverages with tannins or artificial colors during this time and try to consume options that are mostly white, such as:
- Plain yogurt
- Bread or pasta
- Plain chicken, fish, or tofu
- Egg whites
As you reintroduce more colorful foods back into your diet, try to brush or at least rinse as soon as possible after consuming them to prevent new stains from developing.
Teeth whitening can be valuable for patients wanting a more confident smile. This safe procedure can give patients immediate results that can last for weeks. Patients wanting more information about this procedure should visit a dental office for a consultation. There, the patient and dentist can formulate a treatment plan to meet the patient's needs.
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