Hello and good day to you. This will be the first of several blogs done based on question we hear in the office or concerns trending in the media and societal dental health issues. One question we hear just about every day is “I would like to whiten my smile but don’t know where to start”. Well let me help you in your quest for a brighter, whiter smile.
To start the topic of tooth whitening, first I should explain what whitening does and how it works. There are two types of tooth staining: intrinsic and extrinsic staining. Intrinsic staining is consistent with developmental stain such as use of tetracycline antibiotics at a young age, very high levels of fluoride in drinking water, or just simply the individual’s teeth grow in with a dark shade deep inside the tooth. This type of staining is far less common than extrinsic staining (which we will cover next). This type of tooth staining can be difficult to brighten by bleaching because the color is deep within the tooth. Generally these situations must be handled by using composites, crowns, or veneers to brighten the smile.
The second type of staining is called extrinsic staining. Over time, teeth will accumulate staining on the surfaces and within grooves of both front and back teeth. This staining can be exasperated by smoking, coffee/tea, and red wine consumption and a variety of other modes of chemical intake. These types of staining are the most common reasons for darkening smiles. The good news is that these are the types of tooth staining that respond well to bleaching!
Here at Kappenman Dental Clinic, we offer bleaching at a price that is very competitive with over the counter strips and gels, but with customized trays and prescription strength whitening gels to help you achieve the smile you desire. Generally, people will achieve about two tooth shades lighter after a course of prescription bleaching. Once you have your custom trays for bleaching, we also offer refills to help you maintain your white smile over time. While many people can benefit from tooth whitening, we feel that it is important to have an overall check up to ensure teeth are healthy enough to start the bleaching process to avoid any complications or pain with bleaching your teeth.
Special considerations with bleaching:
Dark teeth from root canal treated teeth: Sometimes once a tooth has had a root canal, the tooth over time will darken due to the lack of blood flow into the tooth. This problem can be compounded if the tooth had already started to darken before the root canal was performed. We offer what is called “internal bleaching” for these teeth that can help lighten the crown or top part of the tooth. Please ask about this service at your next appointment if you fell like you would be a good candidate for this treatment.
Sensitivity with bleaching: Some people who have sensitive teeth will have increased sensitivity while bleaching. To help combat this sensitivity, we can discuss an alternative treatment plan of interval usage of the bleaching process or adding high fluoride toothpaste (sensitive toothpaste usually) to calm the teeth while using your bleaching trays.
OTC (over the counter) bleaching: Is it good for you? OTC bleaching strips or trays use the same principals that our professional bleaching trays use, just at a consumer regulated dose. If you are unsure if you want to bleach and feel more comfortable using OTC bleach, go ahead and try it! One recommendation I usually give patients is to be sure to follow directions on the box. If 30 min. is indicated, 1 hour will not always give you double results, but can cause a lot of sensitivity and therefore prevent you from continuing your bleaching cycle to obtain the results you are looking for. If you are still not getting the results you want or the strips/trays are difficult to maneuver in your mouth, let us know and we can set up a time to make custom trays for your whitening needs.
Hope this helps? Give us a call at 605-361-9288 if you would like to set up an exam and discuss bleaching options today!