Did You Know?

Poor oral hygiene is linked to a range of disorders elsewhere in the body, including heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. It may even play a role in pre-term, low birth-weight babies.


Whiter teeth: What actually works and what are the risks?

Everyone wants whiter teeth. There is a growing trend for making your teeth whiter through toothpastes, overnight kits and advertisements for teeth bleaching. How well do any of these actually work?

Whiter teeth: What actually works and what are the risks?
Do whitening toothpastes work?

The chemicals in whitening toothpastes are only in contact with your teeth for a very short period of time. Water and saliva both contribute to the dilution of the whitening agents, further reducing their effectiveness. Considering that these agents only have contact with your teeth for less than a minute it would take a very long time for you to see any real effects.

How about home kits?

Most home kits produce modest results at best. There are many ways to whiten your teeth yourself, including whitening strips, gels, pens, and even tray-based systems. Whether you use the strips for an hour a day, applying the gel to you teeth twice daily or applying the tray based chemical to your teeth, donít expect incredible results. All of these methods will whiten enamel somewhat, but they can irritate your gums.

What about professional whitening?

Dental professionals apply a stronger solution of peroxide than home whitening kits, and sometimes may use a special light to hasten tooth whitening. A customized mouth guard will help to protect your gums. This is probably the safest and most effective way to bleach, but itís not the cheapest. The price for professional whitening varies, but is usually around $500. Lasers are used to enhance the action of whitening agents and can be costly, approximately $1,000.

Does the effect last?

The whiter gleam will start to fade within a month, even quicker depending on factors such as coffee/red wine consumption or eating foods that stain teeth. Smokers will quickly lose the nicer colour in their teeth.

What are the risks?

Bleaching does temporarily increase tooth sensitivity as peroxide can irritate the gums. Because of this and other potential risks, people with very sensitive teeth or periodontal disease, worn cavities, or worn tooth enamel should not bleach.

Who should not bleach?

People with sensitive teeth, grayish discolorations, prior bonding or certain types of fillings in their front teeth are not good candidates for bleaching. If a client has cavities, they should be filled before bleaching. Otherwise, the whitener can penetrate cavities and cause pain. Tooth whitening products are not recommended for pregnant women or women who are breast feeding, people with peroxide allergy, gum disease or worn tooth enamel.

What about children?

Since children have more sensitive teeth than adults, the Academy of General Dentistry does not recommend whitening until after age 16, when tooth pulp is fully formed.

What you should know before whitening:
  • Do not eat or drink anything after whitening that might cause a stain (coffee, tea, etc.).
  • Existing crowns or fillings will not respond to the whitening agent
  • Strips do not whiten entire arches. They only cover the front teeth.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco after using whitening products.
  • Patients are not advised to use whitening products if they have decay, periodontal disease, or hypersensitivity.
  • Know the condition of you teeth and oral tissues. A thorough examination and cleaning from a dental professional is recommended before using whitening products.
For more information on whitening please contact our office at 613-394-3600

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