Looking to brighten teeth, but not sure which option is best for you? We sat down with celebrity dentist Dr. Joseph Banker to get all the deets on just what to expect when you're ready to bleach those pearly whites. Check out what the expert had to tell us below:
Dr. Banker, what makes our teeth look less white over time?
Teeth can become less white over time for several reasons: The number one cause is surface stain. This is a result of the foods and beverages we consume including coffee, tea, red wine, tomato sauce, soy sauce and many of our favorite foods! These stains are easily removed during a professional cleaning. Smoking is another culprit. Not only is it bad for you, it also darkens your teeth. So quit! And discoloration of the teeth can also occur as a result of thinning of the enamel due to acid erosion. Over time, acidic foods and beverages can wear down the protective enamel layer and expose the underlying layer called dentin, which is naturally more yellow.
Who are good candidates for dental bleaching?
Good candidates for whitening are patients with good oral hygiene, free from gum disease and decay, and have teeth that are not excessively sensitive. However, patients with sensitive teeth can still benefit from whitening, as there are precautions that can be taken to prevent overly sensitive teeth during whitening procedures. Patients with a thicker covering of enamel will see the best results, as thinner enamel can appear more translucent to begin with and not whiten as desired.
What is the difference between over the counter teeth bleaching and the one offered by a dentist?
Over the counter products are not as powerful as professional strength products because a professional is not monitoring its usage. When used properly under professional supervision, the more concentrated products found in a dental office will give you longer lasting results with less sensitivity.
How long is a bleaching procedure? Is there pain involved?
An in-office whitening treatment typically takes about one hour with minimal discomfort. Keep in mind that results from a proper procedure vary, as every patient is different. People prone to sensitivity may experience slightly more discomfort; but again, there are many precautions and preparations done to the sensitive areas and soft tissues with the goal of avoiding discomfort.
What else can we expect during a bleaching procedure?
Some relaxation time! Often the procedure is very relaxing to patients since we can shut the lights off and have them watch TV or listen to music while the whitening is performed. I use the newest, most effective product from Zoom called WhiteSpeed. There are three consecutive 15-minute sessions. New whitening material is applied each session and an LCD light shines on the material to activate and enhance it.
How white can a patient expect their teeth to get?
This varies greatly from individual to individual. It depends on many factors such as thickness of the enamel, shade of the teeth prior to the procedure and even position of teeth. Teeth that are crowded can appear darker due to overlap and a shadowing effect created. Teeth with spaces can sometimes also appear darker since the inside of the mouth is dark. An experienced dental professional should be able to predict the outcome for a patient before the procedure begins to help visualize the expected outcome. Most people can get their teeth several shades whiter and are very happy with results.
How can we make our whiter teeth results last?
Avoiding foods and beverages that stain the teeth immediately following the procedure is very important. After that, drinking dark beverages through a straw can help significantly by delivering the liquid past the front teeth. Proper brushing and flossing to reduce the build-up of plaque and the biofilm layer on the teeth will greatly reduce the amount of stains that accumulate.
Any additional tips and tricks?
Obviously avoiding things such as smoking, and dark foods and beverages will greatly reduce the surface stains, but you also can't avoid all of these things all of the time. Proper home care and regular visits to the dentist are always the best preventive measure you can take for healthy, white teeth!
Considering an in-office or at home teeth bleaching? Tell us with a note below!
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