With summer right around the corner,  many people start to consider whitening their teeth. Although there are certain considerations to be made, almost anyone can whiten their teeth. This month, we’ll review some safe whitening practices as well as the options we provide to patients.

Ultraviolet light is used to activate the whitening gel in a Zoom procedure.

Is it safe to whiten my teeth?

The most common question we receive about whitening is, “Is it safe?” When used as instructed, both over the counter products as well as in office procedures are safe for the teeth. Using these products excessively may result in damage to the enamel, but is easily avoidable if you follow the directions. Any kind of whitening may make the teeth temporarily more sensitive especially if there are any areas of recession. It’s important to remember that this sensitivity is not an indicator that anything is wrong and ask your dentist if you’re a good candidate for whitening. For those who have severe recession, erosion or wear on the teeth, you may be advised not to whiten or to whiten with modifications. Be sure to note that crowns and fillings will not whiten, they will remain whatever color they were at placement.

Whitening Options

-Toothpaste: The first and easiest place to start. While most whitening pastes contain similar ingredients, others may be more abrasive. Try to do a bit of research to determine which option is best for you.

-Strips: Whitening strips can be tricky to use as they don’t always stay in place well but are a quick way to lighten teeth in a pinch. If you need a quick whitening option for an event and can’t make it in to the office, the strips are an ideal choice.

-Customized Whitening Trays: The best part about these trays is that they are Custom! We will take a scan or mold of your teeth and make trays just for you. We also provide the whitening gel with instructions on the best way to use it. All you have to do is ask at your hygiene visit! The trays take an initial 2 weeks of daily use to achieve maximum whitening but from there will only require touch ups as needed.

-In Office Whitening (ZOOM): We offer ZOOM as our in-office whitening option. This is a product offered by Phillips (makers of Sonicare) and is the best option to get your teeth the lightest shade in the fastest amount of time. The ZOOM whitening is usually a 90-120 minute appointment in the office. The process is fairly simple, we apply a whitening gel to the front teeth that is then activated by a blue UV light. Included with ZOOM is custom whitening trays so you can continue to touch up at home! If you have time to plan before an event, this is the option to choose!

Whiter teeth can be achieved with whitening strips, although they are sometimes difficult to apply.

Don’t Forget Good Homecare!

Of course we need to highlight good homecare as it will help keep your teeth white naturally. To prevent plaque and stain buildup that discolors teeth, we recommend brushing twice per day with an electric toothbrush and flossing or using a water flosser daily. Along with regular brushing, try implementing a source of fluoride. To help prevent sensitivity leading up to whitening, it’s a good idea to use a sensitive or high concentration fluoride toothpaste.

Before and after tooth whitening.

 

How Long will the Results Last?

As we mentioned above, whitening results are very dependent on your homecare and your habits. If you’re like most Seattlites and have become a habitual coffee drinker, it’s a safe bet that your teeth with stain faster than someone who isn’t. Frequently drinking red wine or tea, can also result in similar outcomes. Some tips you may want to try are  rinsing with water after consuming these beverages or consume through a compostable or metal straw to prevent the staining liquids from flowing over teeth. The best way to make your results last is with excellent  homecare and limited staining beverages. Don’t worry though coffee drinkers, ZOOM whitening may work wonders and you can maintain the shade with those custom trays at home.

Everyone’s mouth and habits are different and what works best for you, may not be the best for someone else. We’d love to discuss the best whitening options for you! Like all of our treatment planning, we enjoy tailoring our recommendations based on your individual needs. Feel free to discuss with your hygienist at your next visit!

References

Mouth Healthy: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/whitening

Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-whitening/tooth-whitening

 

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