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Whitening Your Teeth? What to Consider

Kendall Wood

With the variety of tooth whitening products available today, it is now easier and more accessible than ever. Whitening your teeth can come in the form of toothpaste, over the counter whitening strips, take home bleaching trays from your dentist, and in office bleaching. It is important to find out which method is appropriate and best suited for you.

The first step before whitening your teeth should include an exam and cleaning at your dental office. For best results, surface staining and heavy build-up should be removed from your teeth to ensure a clean slate to allow proper penetration of the whitening solution. It is also important that your dentist determine if you are a good candidate for whitening. An individual with a large amount of decay or active periodontal disease will want to address these areas before beginning whitening therapy. How often you should whiten is something that should be determined by you and your dentist.

It is important to understand that when whitening teeth, only natural teeth and tooth structure can be whitened. Due to this, not everyone is a good candidate for whitening. Crowns and Veneers which are constructed from a variety of materials from porcelain to gold, will not be altered by the whitening gel. Tooth colored fillings are also restorations that will remain the original shade after whitening is completed. This is most applicable when addressing the esthetics in the front of the mouth.

Individuals that typically have sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures in their mouth should be aware that whitening may have the effect of heightened sensitivity for a prolonged period of time that can last anywhere from a week to a month. It is also of importance to note that teeth that present with a hue of gray to dark brown, or patients that had a history of tetracycline use may not achieve their desired result. In these cases the shade will improve, but the degree of improvement varies.

Now that we have determined that you are a good candidate for whitening, it is time to decide which method is best suited for you. Toothpastes are the least expensive method, but require the longest period of time to improve tooth shade and often are not as effective at achieving the whitest smile possible. Over the counter whitening strips are another available method. Whitening strips can improve the shade a reasonable amount but typically only cover the front teeth and are not customized to fit your smile. Individuals with rotated or malpositioned teeth will have a hard time achieving the desired result with the whitening strips as they do not conform to these teeth accurately. Bleaching trays are fabricated at your dental office from impressions taken of your teeth. These customized trays cover all of your teeth completely. You will then be given bleaching material and can expect to see results in a typically case in 1-2 weeks. In office bleaching is the most expensive method and is typically completed in one appointment and as such is an instant way to achieve a bright smile.

About the Author

Kendall Wood received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Kendall is a member of the American Dental Association, the Oregon Dental Association, and the Southern Willamette Dental Society. You can visit his dental practice website at http://www.corvallisdental.org

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  • Last modified: Sat, 21 Jan 2012 19:03:52 GMT

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