Everyone wants to have white teeth, but it’s hard to give up our morning coffee, those tasty raspberries, and that glass of red wine with dinner. Unfortunately, all of those foods and beverages conspire to leaves stains on our teeth. So, does the simple passing of the years. The end result can be dull, dingy teeth with a yellow tint.
Sounds like it’s time to come see Dr. Glaser and have professional teeth whitening in our Melville offices.
What is teeth whitening?
At Dr. Glaser’s we offer both in-office and at-home professional whitening. These options use carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide to break up the pigment that has lodged in the enamel layer on our teeth. These options can whiten your teeth up to seven shades, giving you the bright white smile that’s been missing.
What causes teeth to become stained?
The enamel that is the protective outer layer of our teeth has two aspects to it that surprise people. First, despite being the hardest tissue in the human body, tooth enamel is slightly porous. This enables the teeth to, in effect, breathe. After all, our teeth are living tissue. That characteristic, however, also allows staining agents to get into the enamel and lodge. Second, your enamel is unique. Every person’s enamel color is slightly different, some a little darker, some more prone to staining, etc.
These are typical reasons your teeth become stained:
- Foods — Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, even dark chocolate all contain pigments that can make their way into tooth enamel.
- Drinks — Coffee, tea, red wine, darker fruit juices, and cola drinks leave stains.
- Smoking — Nicotine makes the enamel yellow.
- Genes — Darker enamel tones are usually passed on from your parents.
- Drugs — Tetracycline, a popular antibiotic used especially in the 60s, was found to make the dentin in teeth grey. There are now recommendations to not use tetracycline with children due to this problem.
- Fluorosis — If a person has too much fluoride, or if it is ingested, it can cause fluorosis, which stains the teeth a grey color.
Those last two items on that list involve another type of staining that occurs in the dentin, the inner portion of the tooth. This staining usually is the result of a drug reaction — tetracycline is the main culprit here — and it cannot be whitened. For stains in the dentin, Dr. Glaser places porcelain veneers over the front surfaces of all the stained teeth. Porcelain veneers not only cover interior stained teeth, but they can also make all of the covered teeth appear basically perfect, covering imperfections such as chips and misshapen teeth.
How does teeth whitening remove stains?
The concept behind teeth whitening isn’t all that different than removing a stain from a shirt. Stains work their way into the enamel, which is somewhat porous. The active ingredients in whitening gels penetrate the enamel and break up the pigment in the stains. Our professional teeth whitening options lighten your teeth anywhere from five to seven shades, depending on your degree of staining.
How is teeth whitening done?
Dr. Glaser offers both in-office teeth whitening and at-home whitening, where we provide custom-made trays and professional gel to use at home.
For our in-office whitening, we use silicone trays filled with a 22-25% carbamide peroxide whitening gel. Before we apply the trays to your teeth, we protect your lips and gums with a barrier. Then we place the trays on your teeth and activate the gel with a blue LED light. The process takes approximately one hour, and your teeth are dramatically whiter.
For our at-home teeth whitening, we take impressions of your teeth to use for creating custom-fit trays. These trays provide a superior fit that you won’t find in store-bought whitening kits. We then provide you with professional strength hydrogen peroxide gel, along with detailed instructions on how to use this at home. At home, you fill the trays with the whitening gel, and you wear the trays for 30 minutes. You can do this at night while watching TV or reading. You follow this plan for two weeks and your whitened teeth should be about the same shade as we can achieve in-office.
How is your in-office teeth whitening different than OTC products?
Sometimes patients wonder out loud why they should use Dr. Glaser’s professional teeth whitening options instead of simply heading to the drug store and buying an over-the-counter kit. There are two very important differences between the teeth whitening we offer in our Melville office and whitening kits you can buy at the grocery store. First, we use far stronger concentration whitening gels. Professional whitening gel is stronger because trained dental hygienists are using it, so the possibility for improper application isn’t there. That’s why home whitening kits have to be far weaker, in case the gel gets on the person’s gums and lips. Second, we fit the trays we use for our in-office whitening to your teeth, and they fit precisely. Over-the-counter kits usually have one-size-fits-all trays or strips that you apply to the teeth. This means the whitening gel can be applied haphazardly. That can deliver inconsistent whitening, and if you’re not careful it can burn your gums.
How long will my teeth stain white?
As you would expect, there is no correct answer here. Sure, if you never drink a cup of coffee again or have a glass of wine, your teeth will stay white longer. But who wants to do that? Reality is — your teeth will become stained again, although diligent twice-daily brushing with whitening toothpaste helps. Also keeping your twice-yearly professional cleanings and exam appointments with Dr. Glaser helps.
You can expect that your teeth will maintain their brighter, whiter appearance for at least a year or so. But when your teeth again become a little dingy, simply come back in and in an hour they’ll look bright and white again.
Will whitening make my teeth sensitive? Is it safe?
Teeth whitening can make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold for a brief period after your procedure, but this passes quickly. If you do have overly sensitive teeth, however, tell us beforehand and we can desensitize them before we apply the whitening gel.
Teeth whitening has been performed for over 30 years and there isn’t a documented case of damage to a patient’s teeth. These are safe, effective treatments.