What do you think people ask me about the most? You guessed it - teeth whitening. Everyone wants whiter teeth! It's great to have white, sparkling teeth but with so many options - how do you choose? Over-the-counter white strips? The mall kiosk? In-office Zoom or Brite Smile? At-home professional whitening? How much lighter will your teeth get? How long will the whitening last? Will it damage the teeth? Will it cause sensitivity?
First, let me say that you need to begin with a professional dental exam. The teeth need to be plaque, stain, and calculus free. Sometimes a professional scaling and cleaning is all that is needed! Next, the teeth need to be free of cavities. A cavity can look like a dark area in the tooth, and a tooth-colored filling may be what is needed! Also the teeth need to be examined for crowns, veneers or composite fillings - all of which will not bleach. So if your restorations are dark, options other than teeth whitening need to be explored. You also should be free of gum disease, and you need to avoid smoking and acidic foods. All of this is why I don't favor white strips (because one size doesn't fit all) or the whitening kiosk - because the personnel are not dentists or hygienists.
I favor at-home professional teeth whitening. The procedure is simple and relatively inexpensive. We have great success in using this approach for giving our patients whiter teeth. We take photographs and a shade so we know what the teeth looked like before we begin. We then take impressions of the teeth which we pour up in stone to make a model of your teeth. We then make well-fitting plastic bleaching trays that fit snugly on the model and on your teeth. At your next visit, we give you the trays and the bleaching gel with careful instructions how to apply the gel to the trays and seat them in the mouth. Patients usually wear the trays for 8 hours a day for 7-10 days. The patients are in control so if their teeth whiten enough in fewer days, they can stop the treatment. People keep the trays and the gel so if their teeth darken a year later, they can reapply the bleach.
Check out the interview I did on teeth bleaching
: "What Price Beauty: The Cost of Teeth-Whitening" at http://www.drterryshapiro.com/in_the_news.html. I also have information on tooth whitening
on my blog at http://drterryshapiro.com/blog/?cat=42.
Terry S. Shapiro, D.M.D.
Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry
20 Old Post Road
East Setauket, NY 11733