The Risks/Rewards of Teeth Whitening
May. 22, 2017
The issue that ranks No. 1 among patients bringing to dentists or dental hygienists has nothing to do with dental hygiene and everything to do with appearance. âWhitening is usually the top priority for our patients, regardless of other urgent periodontal or caries concerns,â said Diane Osso, Dental Hygiene Program Director at Concordeâs campus in Aurora, Colo. Teeth whitening is big business, whether performed in the dentistâs office by a professional in dental hygiene or at home with an over-the-counter product. âThe American Association of Orthodontics found that nearly 90 percent of all patients requested tooth whitening,â said Lisa Mayo, RDH, BSDH, MHA, Dental Hygiene Program Director at Concordeâs campus in San Antonio, Texas. âProfessional strength whitening can add more sparkle to your teeth with very few risks.â
Why, despite good Dental Hygiene, teeth change colorYour teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for a number of reasons, according to the American Dental Association.
- Food and drink. Coffee, tea and red wine are some major staining culprits.
- Tobacco use. Tar and nicotine are two offenders in staining teeth.
- Outer enamel thins over time, leaving a more yellowish under-layer of dentin exposed.
- Your tooth might lay down more dentin as a reaction to injury if you've been hit in the mouth.
- Tooth darkening is a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications.
What are the whitening options?Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches â hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. Patients have three options to whiten teeth. Most widely used are whitening toothpastes that contain chemical or polishing agents. There is in-office bleaching applied by a dentist or someone who has graduated from a dental hygienist program. Another is at-home bleaching, such as whitening strips or gels that stick to your teeth. âThere are really no risks to tooth whitening treatments that have been prescribed by dentists if the patient is evaluated for existing dental decay and restorations,â said Kirsten Roling, DDS, Director of Dental Hygiene at Concordeâs campus in Garden Grove, Calif.
There might be a few small risksOsso points out a few risks associated with whitening.
- Sensitive teeth. âGum line recession exposes the root of the tooth, which contains many microscopic dentinal tubules,â Osso said. âThese tubules contain fluid that leads to the pulp of the tooth. When bleached, these tubules can lose their protective âplug,â making exposure to hot or cold foods unpleasant.
- Sensitive gums. Delicate tissues can become burned with the bleaching process.
- Bleaching before getting teeth cleaned can cause uneven results due to surface stains and deposits preventing the ability to get all surfaces equally bleached.
- Certain enamel conditions do not get good results from bleaching. These include enamel dysplasias such as fluorosis, tetracycline staining and other birth or illness defects.
- Patients drinking a lot of red wine, coffee, tea and/or smoke before, during or after bleaching will not get the best results.