Dr. Tal Lewinger Dental NewsDr. Tal Lewinger is a general dentist and owner of Marketplace Dentistry in Vaughan, Ontario practising eco-responsible (and fun) family and cosmetic dentistry and

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5 Tips for Pre-Whitening Teeth

Tal Lewinger - Friday, May 19, 2017

Avoid Hydrogen Peroxide


Hydrogen peroxide is a common chemical agent used in many antiseptics. It's been praised for its healing properties as it kills bacteria. If you've had a cut you know how useful hydrogen peroxide can be in situations that may cause infection. Even though hydrogen peroxide holds medicinal uses, how is it regarding whitening teeth? In small doses, this chemical agent doesn't have any negative effects on teeth. It does a good job in whitening and disinfecting. Hydrogen peroxide based products are used widely by dentists.


However, extensive dental use of hydrogen peroxide can have negative effects. Because of its ability to break proteins, it has the effect of penetrating enamel and dentin. When it reaches dental pulp, the very inner tooth chamber, hydrogen peroxide destroys it. Among other things, an unhealthy dental dam makes teeth sensitive. A study in 2013, shows that hydrogen peroxide literally causes cells making up the dental dam to commit apoptosis, or cell death. When considering how to whiten your teeth, it’s safer to do it professionally as dentists will know how much to use opposed to at home whitening products. However, there are some teeth whitening products that are completely safe; the most important thing to do when using teeth whitening products is research.


Whitening Multiple Times


When considering teeth whitening treatment, consider how often you've done it in the past. If it was recent, say, about 1-2 months ago; whitening again so soon is a bad idea. As previously stated, most whitening products use hydrogen peroxide and overuse of it causes tooth sensitivity. However, if you want to whiten your teeth again because you are unsatisfied with the effect or if the whitening power has worn off sooner than you expected; whitening may be covering an underlying issue. Sometimes, teeth have a hard time getting brighter because of intrinsic stains as opposed to extrinsic ones. Extrinsic stain are things like food or cigarette stains; they are easy to remove and avoid. Intrinsic stains are caused by things like drugs, or medication such as antihistamines, antipsychotics, antihypertensive or certain antibiotics. Tooth trauma can also cause discoloration. Trauma includes things like chipped or broken teeth. These things can cause damage to the enamel. Teeth that were not capped after a major surgery can also cause discoloration. If you're unsure how often you should whiten your teeth, follow instructions on at home kits or go to the dentist. Professional teeth whitening should last about a year while most at home kits last about 3-6 months, although this may vary.



Know Your Tooth Profile


Before getting your teeth whitened, at home or otherwise, you should go to the dentists to find out if anything will interfere with the whitening process; or, if whitening your teeth will damage them. Everyone's teeth are different. If you're going to the dentist to get your teeth whitened, they will check them for any issues. However, when doing this at home that isn't a step you have to take. Safety should always be the number one priority when doing something like this. If you don't want to go out of your way to check if your teeth are ready for whitening, wait until your next dental checkup to ask your dentist if teeth whitening is a good idea.


Over the Counter vs Professional Dentist


There are many different methods to whitening teeth. Over the counter, different types of products exist, ranging from very effective to hardly effective. These products can be found at your local drugstore and include things like: chewing gum, toothpaste, rinses, strips and try systems. Of the list, tray systems and whitening strips are the most effective. Toothpaste and rinses are somewhat effective, but not nearly as effective as trays and strips. Chewing gum is the least effective of the bunch. Each of these products come with their own warnings, duration and preparation. However, these products aren't going to be as safe or as effective as professional whitening.


Professional whitening will always be the best choice as the dentist will know the best formula for your teeth. They have access to powerful bleaching agents, if your teeth can handle them, as well as technology that will have faster and longer lasting results. The expertise of a doctor also comes with side effects such as advice. They recommend you do other things for a more aesthetic smile.


Tips for Sensitive Teeth


Lastly, before taking steps to whiten your teeth ask your dentist if sensitivity will be an issue. As previously stated, most whitening agents use hydrogen peroxide. While that agent may cause sensitivity, if your teeth are already sensitive it could exacerbate the problem. Some suggest using toothpaste, whitening trays or gels to whiten sensitive teeth; however, freedom from discomfort isn't guaranteed. For sensitive teeth, consulting your dentist is the best first step to take towards whitening your teeth.


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