TEETH WHITENING / BLEACHING IS IT SAFE?
I am often asked if the process of whitening or bleaching teeth is safe. In short it can be, if the proper system and or product are used. Understanding the reason for one’s teeth to be discolored is also important.
Teeth discolor for many reasons:
Simple Surface Staining (SSS) from tannins in tea, coffee, red wines, soda, some foods, smoking and even some medications. These can easily be removed with greater success.
Deep or Intrinsic Staining (DIS) generally occurs early in life as the teeth are forming in the jaws from ear infections, trauma’s, high grade fevers and medications used as the teeth are in their “Bud” form in the jawbone. These are much more difficult and maybe impossible to remove or even lighten by bleaching.
Whitening Toothpastes are not created equal! I prefer the gel style paste with less abrasion. Quick test is to place a small amount of paste between two fingers and rub them together if it feels very gritty or rough this paste may be TOO abrasive and may be removing more than just the stains, it could be removing your precious enamel off of your teeth. Once you lose enamel, IT DOES NOT GROW BACK, the teeth may become more sensitive to temperatures and acids and sweets. I like the “Opalescence” whitening toothpaste and it can be purchased at our offices. Safety of all toothpastes is in it use, remember they all need to be rinsed out and are for topical application only NOT TO BE INGESTED!!!
Bleaching gels in Bleaching kits generally work the same using a form of peroxide to “Bubble off” the stains. The surface of the teeth have small pores that fill in with the staining debris, the peroxides remove the stains by “bubbling off” the debris from the surface. Early gels caused sensitivity to the teeth, because the clean tooth surface was “un-sealed” by the removal of the debris, a desensitizer has been added to some now to “re-seal” the surface and reduce the sensitivity. Also the peroxides come in different percentages. Over the counter non-prescription gel percentages can be no greater than 10% in level and work very little to remove stains. Prescription gel percentages range from 15%, 20% and 35% and higher. The higher the percentages the less time is needed to get the results and tooth sensitivity may increase as well. The use of light may increase the usefulness of the peroxide to “bubble off” the stains. The use of peroxide maybe harmful to soft tissues like the pink gingival tissues (gums) near the teeth, also ingesting peroxides could be harmful, topical use only to the tooth surface only. There is a thought that peroxides could be cancer causing if ingested.
Safe use of peroxides in the mouth and teeth can be done relatively safely when a professionally made tray is formed to hold the gel on the teeth only and the proper amount of gel is applied to the trays. The removal of the spent gel from the teeth is very important, thus brushing the teeth immediately after the trays are removed is essential and rinsing with warm water will reduce ingestion of peroxide. Thus use of store bought systems could be harmful.
In conclusion seeing your dentist for regular “Recare” cleaning visits will remove and reduce staining buildup on your teeth. Reducing foods, drinks and habits that cause staining will help as well. Having a dental profession fabricate and dispense the right system for the teeth whitening patient is important for the best results and can reduce any problems that could arise. HAPPY WHITENING !! and SMILE….