Teeth whitening: A dentist’s advice
Navigating teeth-whitening products can be a confusing task. Some products may work great, while some do not provide substantial results, while other products can even damage your teeth. Discussing teeth whitening with your dentist can help ensure that your gums and teeth are healthy enough to be whitened.
Working with your dentist prior to whitening can give you the information and resources you need to whiten your teeth successfully and safely — whether you choose to use over-the-counter products or professional teeth whitening.
Understanding the types of stain can help you prevent and remove stain.
Stain that occurs inside your tooth is called intrinsic stain. Intrinsic stain is caused by certain medications, excessive fluoride when teeth are developing, injuries to the nerve, and aging. Extrinsic stain sits on the surface of your teeth and is caused by smoking, foods, and beverages. Tea, coffee, and tobacco are the main culprits of extrinsic stain. Fortunately, both can be improved, but intrinsic stains are more stubborn. If you have any crowns or fillings or other restorations, those surfaces cannot be whitened.
The most tested and documented ingredient to whiten teeth is hydrogen peroxide. Teeth become lighter based on two factors:
- Concentration of hydrogen peroxide
- Amount of time that hydrogen peroxide contacts your teeth
Our team can work with you to select a product that will whiten your teeth effectively while preventing damage and minimizing sensitivity.
We proudly offer Philips Zoom take-home tooth whitening kits. Philips Zoom whitening is a high-quality, and well-tested product. Our take-home kits include whitening gel and custom trays. This ensures maximized gel-to-tooth contact time and minimized gel-to-tissue contact time.
If you hope to whiten your teeth without custom products, we frequently recommend over-the-counter strips such as Crest or Colgate whitening strips. Both brands are well tested, quality controlled, and have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. It is very important to select an approved product so that you do not damage your teeth.
Although there are many well-tested and highly effective products, there are also many “fads” that may harm your teeth:
- Purple toothpaste — Purple toothpastes or serums are one of the latest fads. The idea is that the purple color will counteract the yellow in your teeth. In reality, the serum contains food coloring that can stain your tissue and make your teeth appear yellow or gray. There are no studies that show whether this serum is safe for enamel.
- Charcoal toothpaste — Charcoal toothpaste damages your enamel. It is too abrasive and can wear away enamel, leaving small pores that are more susceptible to stain in the future.
- Baking soda — Baking soda can help remove extrinsic stains but is also very abrasive. Depending on the product, baking soda may be too harsh and damage enamel.
- Whitening toothpaste — Whitening toothpaste can make small improvements in your shade, but the change will be minor. For a toothpaste to be labeled as “whitening,” it just needs to lighten your teeth two shades, whereas Philips Zoom can whiten over 10 shades!
- Mouthwash concoctions — Recent social media posts show mixtures of baking soda, mouthwash, and other items found at home. Rinsing with mouthwash does not expose your enamel to these components long enough to whiten. Hydrogen peroxide needs to contact your enamel for at least 30 minutes.
- Fruits or vinegar — Some people will rub fruits or vinegar on their teeth. Both items are too acidic for teeth. They will damage your enamel and weaken your teeth.
- LED lights — Some dental offices use very strong lights in the office to help whiten teeth. The results of the lights only last about two weeks; then gel trays are needed to maintain the new shade. Lights are often marketed for at-home use. These lights are not strong enough to make a noticeable difference immediately, as in-office lights can provide. At-home lights help “jump start” the hydrogen peroxide breakdown, but do not provide a significantly different shade result. The lights would have no impact without hydrogen peroxide gel.
At Draver Dental, we work with you to address your concerns and find a product that will improve your smile.
There are many options to whiten your teeth but there are also many ineffective or even harmful products on the market. Always look for products that have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
Reviewing teeth whitening with your dentist can help ensure you safely whiten your teeth — whether you choose an over-the-counter or custom product. Schedule an appointment today to talk with the Draver Dental team about whitening options that can make your smile sparkle!
Milwaukee dentist Dr. Hannah Draver flanked by TMJ4 Morning Blend intern Charles Kelley and correspondent Andrea Boehlke.