Tips for Teeth Whitening

Friday April 13, 2012 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

Murray Hill Family Dental knows that everyone loves brighter, whiter teeth. Even without professional whitening services there are some ways to improve or maintain great tooth color.

The first thing to know is that there are 2 types of tooth stain. Extrinsic and Intrinsic. Extrinsic stain is on the outside surface of the tooth, and can usually be easily removed by your dental professional. Smoking, coffee, tea, drug use, or build up or excess tartar are common reasons for the development of extrinsic stain. Intrinsic stain is stain deep inside of the tooth enamel and other structures. As well as smoking and coffee or tea use can lead to intrinsic stain, so can certain medications and simply age. Over time our porous teeth can soak up discolorations making our smile appear older.

Frequent consumption of tea, coffee, red wine and soda will increase the staining of tooth enamel. Most of us do not want to give up our caffeine, but if you limit it or avoid it while undergoing a whitening regimen, you will have improved results.

Smoking not only causes stain in the tooth surface, it also causes our skin to appear more aged, not to mention increase risks for cancers. While most smoking stain can be polished off in the dental office, it builds up quickly and is difficult to prevent.

Sometimes medical conditions or medications can cause teeth to be discolored. Tetracycline is not used as much lately because unborn and young children that had it in their system developed permanent teeth with a deep bluish hue.

Murray Hill Family Dental offers services for teeth whitening, depending on what each patient’s individual needs and desires are. Whitening trays are one of the most common methods, are more efficient than over the counter kits because they are custom molded to each patient’s mouth, and use a prescription strength whitening solution that is not available at stores. Because the trays fit perfectly, patients can make sure the gel goes where they need it to, without damaging sensitive gum tissue around the teeth.

In office whitening like ZOOM is a great option for patients that want to come to the office and walk out with whiter teeth. Some people just do not want to have the upkeep or maintenance that is needed for home whitening systems. If you have a big day planned such as a wedding or special event, in-office whitening can be done just days before and make a huge impact on the shade of your smile.

Patients should also be aware of over the counter products that are available for use. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to selecting a product, because there are so many to choose from. Whitening strips tend to work well for patients with minor whitening needs. These can be guided to not sit as close to the gums, reducing irritation, but they may also move around and not stay in place as well. Over the counter trays are made as a one-size-fits-all and may cause irritation as the solution comes into contact with gingival tissue. The solution is also less effective than in-office gels, so it is best for people with less staining.
Daily use of whitening toothpastes may increase tooth sensitivity. This is extremely common as the formula causes the pores (tubules) in the tooth surface to open up. This exposes some nerve endings making them more sensitive to normal food and activity. Discontinued use of whitening toothpastes, and using instead, a sensitivity toothpaste can help correct this problem. Within about 2 weeks of daily use, sensitivity toothpastes help to close these pores and prevent hypersensitivity.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss what method of whitening is best for your teeth, please feel free to give us a call!