• Is Teeth Whitening a Safe Procedure?

    First of all, you need to determine what whitening really means.  This term had to be defined for the dental community to ensure that everyone was on the same page.  Whitening implies a process that will make teeth appear whiter.  This can be achieved by bleaching the tooth, which changes the natural color of the tooth.  Non-bleach whitening works by physical or chemical ways to remove stains that color the surfaces of the teeth.

    Bleaching products

    Peroxide-containing bleach products break down into hydrogen peroxide and urea.  Hydrogen peroxide is the active bleaching agent.  This process can cause tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gums and soft tissue in the mouth.  Most of these side effects are temporary and stop once treatment stops.

    Professionally applied bleaching products used by dental offices use hydrogen peroxide in concentrations from 25 to 40% and can be used in conjunction with a laser.  Lasers and light are thought to accelerate and activate the whitening process.  Most gum tissues are protected prior to starting the bleaching process to keep them from becoming irritated.  This procedure usually takes an hour to complete.

    Non-bleaching products

    Whitening toothpastes contain chemical agents and polishing agents that are used to remove surface stains on the teeth’s surface.  The process is gentle and does not involve bleach.  It will not change the color of your teeth, but it will remove surface stains that tend to dull the true color of your teeth.

    Safe?

    There have been several research studies and long-term studies that have determined that teeth bleaching and other whitening methods are safe and effective.  There are no adverse effects that result in problems for the teeth or the gums.  The bleaching gels have improved and become buffered to decrease sensitivity.  If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have tooth colored crowns or dental work in your front teeth, or have gum disease and teeth with worn enamel; teeth whitening through bleaching may not be the best option for you and your teeth.

    Sensitivity

    If you are experiencing sensitivity, there are ways to decrease the symptoms.  If you are using a tray method to help with whitening, consider wearing the tray for a shorter period.  Brush with sensitive toothpaste which has potassium nitrate to help with nerve ending pain.  Fluoride can be used to re-mineralise your teeth and protect it from the whitening process.  Stop whitening for a few days to adapt to the whitening process.

    With all the advances in technology, teeth whitening is still fairly standard.  The bleaching process can whiten your teeth several shades and rarely cause any problems other than teeth sensitivity.  This process is known to activate even faster with laser or light and can whiten more effectively.   The overall process does not take long and can be used when needed and should be performed regularly to keep stains from forming.  Teeth whitening is a great way to improve your smile and it is a safe way to maintain your smile at the same time.

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