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Teeth Whitening

Teeth whiteningThe natural color of teeth is not white. They are typically a shade of either yellow or gray and tooth color varies from person to person.The procedure to whiten teeth is fairly simple but there are some rules that need to be followed to achieve and maintain good results.

Why teeth get discolored

There are many reasons why teeth can become discolored. The major reasons are:

  • Diet - Drinking tea, coffee, red wine or other food and drink with strong colorings
  • Smoking - Smoking can result in teeth appearing a yellowish color
  • Age - As people grow older their teeth can become darker naturally
  • Tooth decay, fillings, and tartar build-up can cause discoloration
  • Trauma - Teeth have nerves and blood vessels inside them. If these nerves and blood vessels are damaged the tooth may become darker even several years after the trauma.
  • Medication - Staining can be caused by diseases or medicines. Tetracycline, an antibiotic, will cause a distinct discoloration if given to a child whose adult teeth are still developing.

How to whiten teeth

There are many simple ways to improve the appearance of discolored teeth:

  • Regular cleaning that remove the plaque and tartar is a great first step.
  • Regular tooth brushing
  • Stop smoking
  • Reducing the intake of food and drink that are strongly colored such as coffee, tea, red wine, etc.
  • Professional whitening

Whitening toothpastes claim to whiten teeth but they do so at an expense. They vary from slightly abrasive to very abrasive. They may appear to make your teeth whiter by removing stains, but some are abrasive enough to remove enamel, which makes these toothpastes a very poor long-term solution.

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At home whitening

This method requires us to take an impression of your mouth so that a custom tray, which holds the whitening gel against your teeth, can be made. The gel is typically worn for a few hours a day for a period of one to three weeks.

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How long will whitening last?

Since the results vary from patient to patient there is no firm answer. We do know that teeth tend to darker as time passes so touch up treatments are occasionally needed to keep the teeth lightened. Your eating, drinking, smoking, and home care habits definitely have an effect on how long the treatment lasts. Remember that the base shade of teeth is yellow or white and that we cannot whiten this base color. However, most patients are very satisfied with the results of whitening treatment.

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What are the side effects?

Some patients report a temporary increase in sensitivity. Tender gums are also a known side effect especially if you are whitening at home and use too much of the whitening solution. Remember that if a little is good that a lot will not make your teeth any whiter.

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Is everyone a candidate for whitening?

NO! There is no whitening solution for most dental work such as fillings, crowns, veneers, and partial or full dentures. If the color of your teeth matches the color of your dental work before whitening, the color of your teeth will most likely be a different color after whitening than the color of the dental work after whitening. You are making a commitment to replacing those restorations if you whiten your teeth. We typically wait a few weeks after any whitening treatment to replace these restorations since we want to match the new color and we want the color to stabilize before choosing a color for the new restorations.

Your gums must also be healthy and any decay must be treated since both of these can be a cause of sensitivity during whitening treatments.

Teeth whitening is not recommended for children whose teeth are still developing or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Please see the Whitening Gallery to see the types of results we can achieve with whitening procedures.

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