Do you want whiter teeth, but are wondering how safe it is? Here is some helpful information to consider when determining your safest and most effective approach to teeth whitening.
If you have wished for a brighter, more youthful smile, you are in good company, since most people’s teeth become more yellow over time. With so many different teeth whitening options on the market, it can be difficult to evaluate which ones are effective and safe and which are a waste of time and money.
Below, we discuss the causes of tooth discolouration, the importance of protecting your tooth enamel, and how to select a whitening program that is safe for your teeth.
What is tooth enamel?
Tooth enamel is a hard, semi-translucent mineral layer on the surface of your teeth that insulates them from pain, decay and sensitivity, making it comfortable to chew food. Although enamel is a type of tissue, it doesn’t have the same healing properties as other tissues (such as the layers of skin), and cannot regenerate once it is damaged or worn away.
Beneath the enamel shell lies dentin, a connective tissue containing nerves and a vascular network, that usually has a slightly yellow or grey pigmentation.
Signs of enamel damage
Over time, tooth enamel may become eroded, chipped, or cracked. In some cases, the enamel erosion may be difficult to see, but there are several symptoms that may indicate damage:
- Tooth sensitivity: If you notice your teeth have become increasingly sensitive to hot or cold beverages, candy, or sweet foods, it might be a sign of thinning enamel.
- Chips or cracks: While sometimes difficult to see, even small chips or cracks in your enamel can leave teeth vulnerable to sensitivity or cavities.
- Discolouration: The dentin that lies beneath the enamel layer can be tinted yellow or greyish. Typically, when enamel erodes, the dentin starts showing through, making teeth appear discoloured.
What causes tooth discolouration?
Tooth enamel is semi-translucent, but can be stained by tobacco or dark beverages such as coffee, tea, cola, and red wine. This type of surface discolouration can often be corrected with teeth cleaning and whitening treatments. There are also medications that may cause tooth discolouration. This type of discolouration can be deeper inside the tooth and may not respond well to whitening.
Underneath the tooth enamel, your dentin’s pigmentation may range from white to grey to a slightly yellow tint, all of which are perfectly normal and natural. However, as enamel begins to erode, the dentin becomes more visible, which could leave your teeth looking discoloured, especially if your dentin is on the yellow side. This type of discolouration may not be fully reversible with whitening treatments.
Is teeth whitening safe for my enamel?
There are numerous methods to whiten teeth, such as lasers, gel solutions, hydrogen-peroxide whiteners, whitening toothpastes, activated charcoal, and others. Many forms of teeth whitening can be perfectly safe for your enamel, but some may cause damage and should be avoided.
Because each individual’s circumstances are different, it is very important to seek professional guidance when selecting a teeth whitening program. The expert team at Tuxedo Dental Group can help you determine if you are a candidate and choose the most effective and least-harmful whitening option for your situation.
Why to avoid over-the-counter whitening products
Over-the-counter teeth whitening products might seem tempting due to low prices and easy application, but they are not usually the best option. While some over-the-counter methods work better than others, generally the results are not as good as professional whitening and do not last as long.
Whitening toothpaste is the least effective option, often based on abrasive ingredients, with any benefits lasting a very short time. Whitening strips can be more effective for some simpler cases, with results lasting up to a few months. However, it can be difficult to determine whether these products will be appropriate for your particular tooth discolouration. Even more significantly, over-the-counter whitening methods may cause burns on your gums if not used correctly.
The safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth is with guidance from your dentist.
Benefits of professional teeth whitening
When you have your teeth professionally whitened, the results are typically better and longer-lasting. Before a professional whitening treatment, your dentist will examine your teeth and identify the main causes of your tooth discolouration. Then he or she can recommend the most effective teeth whitening plan and offer suggestions for preventing further discolouration. Most importantly, the dentists at Tuxedo Dental Group only use the safest whitening treatments to avoid further damage of your enamel.
When evaluating the best whitening solution for you, your dentist will consider any existing tooth restorations such as bonding, crowns, or veneers. They will also check for cavities and tooth decay that should be repaired prior to this procedure.
If you are interested in whitening options, see your dentist so a detailed assessment of your particular situation can be made and a treatment plan specific to your needs can be completed. Your dentist may advise you that you are not a good candidate for teeth whitening. If you have damaged enamel, sensitive teeth, advanced periodontal disease, specific allergies, or numerous fillings, crowns, and other restorations, tooth whitening may not be recommended for you.
Professional teeth whitening can be very effective. Best of all, you can rest assured that our dentists will help you choose a solution that is safe.
Ready to try teeth whitening?
If you are interested in being evaluated for teeth whitening, schedule a consultation with Tuxedo Dental Group to discuss your options. Your dentist will be happy to answer any questions you have about the process and help you choose the whitening solution that is best suited to your unique situation.