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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is Teeth Whitening Safe or Not?

Although teeth are not naturally meant to be completely white, many people want a brighter smile. Tooth bleaching has become the most popular way for dentists to help their patients obtain whiter smiles.


Professional Teeth Bleaching


Prior to the 1990’s essentially the only teeth bleaching option that was available to people was “in-office” teeth bleaching treatments performed by the person’s dentist. The term “in-office” used here simply means that the actual bleaching process was performed by the dentist while the patient was in their dental chair.


When an in-office teeth bleaching your dentist will put a rubber seal around your teeth to protect your gums. Then, the bleaching gel is painted onto your teeth and a special, bright light is pointed at them. This light speeds up the bleaching process. The procedure takes one to two hours. The effects of in-office tooth bleaching are immediate.


Teeth Bleaching at Home


“At-home” teeth bleaching, is a more recent phenomenon. It became popular in the 1990’s and is now the most common dentist dispensed method by which teeth are whitened.


Firstly, your dentist makes the rubber mouthguards so that they fit your teeth precisely, and secondly, the bleaching gel is stronger so it tends to be more effective. Your dentist will give you tubes of bleaching gel and instructions on how to put the gel in the mouthguards.


You will need to wear the mouthguards for a few hours each day. It may take a few weeks to achieve the color that you want.


“At-home” tooth bleaching has some advantages over in-office bleaching. The whitener that is used typically contains a much lower concentration of peroxide, thus making the potential for problems associated with side effects less of an issue.


Side Effect of Tooth Bleaching


In some studies, patients have experienced uncomfortable short-term side effects when having teeth bleached. Hydrogen peroxide can increase temperature sensitivity in the teeth, particularly at higher concentrations, and nightguards often cause gum irritation.


There is also a possibility of over-bleaching. The result will be a translucency that may appear gray from the shadows of the mouth. There is a very low percentage of this occurring, and only if the bleaching process is over-extended you should consult your dentist.


Since 1989 a number of dental researchers have investigated various safety considerations that might be associated with tooth bleaching. This research has led to the general consensus that while this technique is not without side effects, dentist-dispensed at-home tray-based teeth whitening systems utilizing a 10% carbamide peroxide whitener are safe to use.


In fact this type of whitening system has gained wide acceptance by the dental community as a whole. The overwhelming majority of dentists do offer tray teeth whitening systems to their patients.On the whole, dentists regard the procedure of tooth bleaching to be a safe one. Thus, Dr Mervyn Druian, of the BDA, says: “It is a safe, effective procedure that we have used with great success for a long time.”Dentist Dr Jonathan Levy thinks that tooth bleaching: “… is very effective, very efficient and very comfortable for the patient. It is nice to give patients instant results. They come in with a dull smile, and they go out with a bright smile.”


Contra-Indications For Tooth Whitening


Tooth bleaching is not recommended for smokers or alcohol users. Smokers should stop smoking before having their teeth bleached. The smoking not only defeats the effect of tooth bleaching but there is concern about the mixture of hydrogen peroxide with smoking having a potentiating effect on tissue damage already known to be caused by smoking.


If you have pre-existing cosmetic restoration (bonding, porcelain crowns or veneers) you may need to replace them after tooth bleaching in order to match your new, whiter smile.


Stains in the gray family (such as from tetracycline) can be harder to remove, if not impossible. These stains can take up to six months or longer to whiten. The best candidates for tooth bleaching are those with stains caused by coffee, tobacco or aging.


It is important for you to understand that every individual’s teeth respond in a unique way to tooth bleaching. Overall, tooth bleaching under professional supervision is an effective method for whitening the teeth.

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