Teeth Whitening

TEETH WHITENING:   HOW IT WORKS

In the blossoming world of cosmetic dentistry teeth whitening reigns supreme.  Universally valued by men and women alike, whitening (or bleaching) treatments are available to satisfy every budget, time frame and temperament.

We provide hour bleaching sessions as well as custom take home whitening trays.

The long and the short of it is that teeth whitening works.  Virtually everyone who opts for this cosmetic treatment will see moderate to substantial improvement in the brightness and whiteness of their smile.  Only 15 percent of the population has tried the cosmetic procedure, and misinformation on the subject is rife. However, teeth whitening is not a permanent solution and requires maintenance or  “touch-ups” for a prolonged effect.

BLEACHING vs. WHITENING

According to the FDA, the term “bleaching” is permitted to be used only when the teeth can be whitened beyond their natural color.  This applies strictly to products that contain bleach – typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

The term “whitening,” on the other hand, refers to restoring a tooth’s surface color by removing dirt and debris.  So any product that cleans (like a toothpaste) is considered a whitener.  Of course, the term whitening sounds better than bleaching, so it is more frequently used – even when describing products that contain bleach.

TEETH WHITENING RISKS

Teeth whitening treatments are considered to be safe when procedures are followed at directed.  However, there are certain risks associated with bleaching that you should be aware of:

  • Sensitivity:  Bleaching can cause a temporary increase in sensitivity to temperature, pressure and touch.  This is likeliest to occur during in-office whitening, were high-concentration bleach is used.  Some individuals experience spontaneous shooting pains ( “zingers”) down the middle of their front teeth. Individuals at greatest risk for whitening sensitivity are those with gum recession, significant cracks in their teeth or leakage resulting from faulty restorations.  Whitening sensitivity last no longer than a day or two, but in some cases may persist longer.
  • Gum irritation:  Over half of those who use peroxide whiteners experience some degree of gum irritation resulting from the bleach concentration or from  contact with the whitening trays.  Such irritation typically lasts up to several days.

Pregnant or nursing women are advised to avoid teeth whitening.  The potential impact of swallowed bleach on the fetus or baby is not yet known.

Maintaining Your Whiter Smile

To extend the longevity of newly whitened teeth, avoid dark-colored foods and beverages for at least a week after whitening.  Practicing excellent oral hygiene – brushing and flossing after meals and at bedtime.

Our patients at Mclean County Dental will often request a touch-up in conjunction with their bi-annual teeth cleaning appointment.

For further information, please call our office 309.662.8448

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