This is my first ever blog post so here goes! My goal is to provide answers to some of the dental questions that I get most often from my patients.
Many patients are interested in whitening their teeth and want to be sure that the process is safe and doesn't harm their teeth or gums. They also want to know which whitening technique is most effective. Today I will tackle the first question about safety and next time I will discuss the various techniques available and comment on which ones get the best results.
All tooth whitening products work basically the same way, by removing stains that have collected on our teeth. Even though tooth enamel feels smooth, it actually has many microscopic pores that collect stains over time from food, beverages (coffee, tea, and red wine), smoking or other causes. All tooth bleaching products work by dissolving these stains and cleaning out the pores of the tooth to restore its white appearance.
All bleaching products used professionally or over-the-counter are very safe if used as directed. They do not damage the tooth or gums and do not remove any enamel or tooth structure. Some patients (maybe 1 in 3) do experience mild temporary sensitivity in their teeth during the bleaching process. The sensitivity goes away a few days after the patient stops bleaching. Many whitening products now have desensitizers in them now so we are seeing this less often. The other occasional side effect is a temporary whitening of the gums if too much bleach is used. The peroxides in the material can turn the gum white so it is important not to use too much bleach. This discoloration generally goes away quickly once the bleach is removed. Teeth whitening techniques have improved greatly in the past several years and many patients are delighted to return their smile to a whiter color. Next time I will comment on the different techniques available and which get the best results.