Dental Whitening – Should You or Shouldn’t You

Whitening is a common procedure both in dentistry and at-home using popular over-the-counter products available today.  As we age, our teeth frequently become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, staining by bacterial pigments, foods and tobacco, as well as a reaction to certain antibiotic medications (such as tetracycline).Most people notice some level of success with whitening, whether it’s using a product designed to be used at-home or that which is overseen by a dental professional. Before undergoing any whitening method, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends to have one’s teeth checked by a dentist.The dentist should examine the patient, take a health and dental history that includes allergies and sensitivities, observe placement and conditions of restorations, and if necessary take x-rays to determine the nature of any possible issues that might arise as a result of dental whitening.Patients who should not whiten their teeth include those who have dental work on the front teeth (crowns or fillings). These areas will not change and may be emphasized, unintentionally.  Teeth whitening is not recommended in pregnant or lactating women. And, patients with very sensitive teeth should be cautious. There are products that can help with this problem, however.The main ingredient in whitening gel is either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, both of which contribute to gum health, so it’s not clear-cut whether a patient can safely whiten their teeth or not without considering a number of different factors.Parents should also be cautious about teens and whitening. Depending on their age, permanent teeth often have not fully emerged from the gums of younger teens so they could end up with teeth that are noticeably whiter near the biting surface than near the gum line. Dentists also are concerned that younger teens might not follow instructions carefully or might continue treatments when whitening causes irritation or painful tooth sensitivity.Learn more at our office!

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