31Dec
By: Clint Newman DDS On: December 31, 2014 In: General Dentistry Comments: 0

Teeth Whitening

Over time, many patients accumulate tooth discoloration from food and drinks, leaving their smiles darkened or yellowed. With a professional teeth whitening procedure, our Nashville patients can once again smile with confidence. If you are considering teeth whitening as a way to remove years of surface and sometimes even deep stains, you should also understand what to expect after Teeth Whitening.

With the right expectations and an accurate understanding of the risks, you can have a satisfying and worry-free experience.

Side Effects after Whitening

While teeth whitening carries few inherent risks and side effects, patients can expect some discomfort in their teeth and possibly gums after treatment. This is due to the active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, which is responsible for expunging stains from teeth. Although the effects are brief and usually mild, you should be aware of these common side effects from whitening:

  • Heightened sensitivity in teeth: After treatment, teeth should be expected to have increased sensitivity for a day or two. This may range from a dull ache to sharp, sporadic pains. For a majority of patients, sensitivity is easily manageable with over-the-counter pain medication and by avoiding hot or cold foods and drinks. Those who have sensitive teeth prior to treatment are more likely to experience discomfort, and may wish to consider a take-home whitening kit rather in-office treatment , as the gel contains smaller doses of hydrogen peroxide per application.
  • Irritation in gums:If the whitening gel comes in contact with gum tissue, it may result in a brief but irritating chemical burn. The gums will appear discolored and may sting for a few hours, but should fully heal within the first or second day. With professional treatment by an experienced cosmetic dentist, accidental gum exposure to the gel can be greatly minimized or avoided completely. This is further aided by an appropriately fitted dental tray, which will limit gel from leaking out onto the gums.

Because children and younger adolescents still have developing teeth, the dentin tissue within their teeth is not as well protected. As a result, whitening treatment would result in even greater side effects and possible risks. Treatment is therefore reserved for patients who are 16 and older.

The Effects of Over-bleaching

Teeth whitening is a relatively safe cosmetic treatment, posing few (if any) risks to most patients. However, those who undergo too many successive whitening treatments do put themselves in danger of over-bleaching.

If teeth are overexposed to the hydrogen peroxide agent in whitening gel, the outer layers of enamel may begin to wear away, exposing the dentin and soft inner tissues. This results in lasting sensitivity and discoloration, as dentin is a naturally darker color than enamel. Moreover, eroded teeth are left vulnerable to injury or disease, and may thus require permanent protection by porcelain veneers or dental crowns.

If you have previously benefited from teeth whitening and are considering another whitening treatment, speak with your dentist to determine if enough time has passed.

The Limitations of Teeth Whitening

Keep in mind that whitening gel is most effective on surface stains, which are generally the result of food, drink, and tobacco use. Deeper stains, such as those formed by injury, medication, or fluoride, are more difficult to remove. Depending on the nature of discoloration, whitening may not be able to address all stains. For alternative cosmetic options to conceal stubborn stains, consider dental bonding or porcelain veneers.

Additionally, teeth whitening is not particularly effective on restorations. Dental crowns, porcelain veneers, and visible fillings will not benefit from the effects of whitening as natural teeth would. If, after treatment, your restorations no longer match the color of your teeth, you may replace them to blend in with your brighter smile.

Get Started On Your New Smile

Whiter teeth are just one office visit away. Contact us to learn more about this procedure or any of our similarly effective cosmetic treatments.

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