Teeth Whitening Part II

May 17
2011

In my last article, I discussed how whitening (or bleaching) teeth have become very popular over the last few years. I discussed the home whitening products and the one-hour whitening procedure done in the dental office. This article will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding teeth whitening.

What causes tooth discoloration?
Causes include smoking, coffee, tea, soda, trauma, old fillings, medications and staining. Aging may even contribute towards the darkening of your teeth.
Is tooth whitening harmful to my teeth?
If supervised by a dentist and not abused during home use, none of the ADA certified products are harmful to your teeth, nor does it change your teeth’s basic structure. Your tooth enamel is not altered.
How long does whitening last?
If staining substances, such as caffeine or tobacco products, caused your discoloration, then periodic re-whitening may be necessary. However, teeth will always be lighter than they were, and if good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist are present, whitening results can last a long time.
How much does whitening cost?
The cost varies from dentist to dentist. Bellefonte Family Dentistry’s fee is $342 for home bleaching ($171 if you want to do the upper teeth only). The in-office bleaching is $862 and takes about 1-½ hours.
Does insurance cover whitening?
Usually not.
Are there any side effects?
The main side effect of bleaching is possible tooth sensitivity while using the product, especially to very cold food or drink. This sensitivity should disappear a few days after treatment, concurrent use of Sensodyne toothpaste is recommended.
Is whitening a substitute for regular dental treatment?
NO! Whitening products are not intended to be a substitute for prevention of dental problems and dental disease. You should always schedule regular visits with your dentist, and you should consult with your dentist and physician before using any whitening product.
Does bleaching work on tartar build-up?
No. Patients need to realize this procedure only whitens stained teeth due to coffee, tea, smoke, or aging. The tartar must be removed from the teeth prior to starting the whitening process; to leave the tartar on diminishes the results.
I have tetracycline stained teeth. Do I need a laser bleaching or chemical bleaching or both?
Depending on your goals, bleaching may work. Tetracycline stains can be very tenacious, so a bleaching process may lighten the colors, but may not totally eliminate the stains. You may need to seriously consider porcelain veneers. By veneering your teeth, where the dentist places a layer of porcelain on the front of the teeth, the stains can be masked and give you the smile that you want in a very predictable manner.

Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte and is accepting new patients. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 115 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

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