People usually want whiter teeth as they are seen as healthier and prettier. Many people think the only way that they can improve their smile is through more invasive procedures such as veneers and crowns, but most patients whom I see are candidates for whitening .The wonderful part of whitening is that it is relatively straightforward process with current technology and techniques, and it can be done predictably and inexpensively. The three parts of whitening are the initial dental appointment and prophylaxis, the daily whitening, and then the maintenance.
When a patients comes in wanting to have whiter teeth, my first recommendation is to make sure that they have had a dental cleaning or a prophylaxis within the past three months. Even though it is standard practice for dental insurances to cover two cleanings a year, having a dental cleaning done once every three months is far more useful. With a dental cleaning, I or my hygienist can use paste specifically formulated to help remove stain as well as tools that are strong enough to remove built up tartar that a normal toothbrush cannot remove. The difference that a dental cleaning makes is especially impressive when my patient has not had a cleaning in a few years. By doing a simple cleaning we can significantly brighten a smile as areas of darkness especially around the gums where plaque tends to accumulate and holds onto all stains that the mouth is exposed.
The second step in whitening is using a whitening medication on a routine basis. While I can administer whitening medication in my office, I prefer to have my patients do it themselves at home. I will take models of a person’s teeth and create custom whitening trays that fit snugly and comfortably over the teeth. I prefer the at home whitening for two reasons. First doing it in the office is significantly more expensive and I’d rather my patients save their money and get similar results by doing it at their home. Second it is more convenient for everyone involved for my patient to do it at their house. I also like the at home whitening in custom trays because I can use different levels of whitening depending on what the patients wants. For most patients, I prefer the most mild whitening gel on the market. While it does need to be worn overnight in the bed for it to work the best, I like it and use it myself because it causes the least amount of sensitivity. Stronger formulations of whitening do work, but they tend to irritate tooth nerves more and the more sensitivity that people experience from whitening, the less likely they are to finish it. The benefit of stronger formulations is that they are able to be used for less time. Finally I like at home whitening because each session of whitening removes around 1 month accumulation of staining and around each month of whitening removes 2 years of staining. It is impossible to over-whiten the teeth. Teeth will always have a hint of cream in them from the internal part of the tooth which makes them look natural.
After my patient has gotten to the desired whiteness, it is time to maintain that whitening. It is much like washing your car after detailing it. A person doesn’t detail their car once every 4 years and expect it to stay beautiful, but rather they would wash the car on a routine basis to keep it clean. In the same way, a person cannot go through an intense whitening regime and expect the teeth to never darken again, but one must routinely whiten to keep everything glowing.The amount of maintenance required depends on the person. If I have a person who enjoys coffee and red wine routinely, it is best to whiten once a week to keep the results whereas if I have another who is meticulous with oral hygiene and never eats any darker foods then once a month would be sufficient. As whitening does no harm to the teeth, there is no issue with regular whitening. The added benefit of routine whitening is that the gel medicine uses actual kills many harmful types of bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. My patients who whiten routinely have a lower incidence of dental disease which is wonderful as well. Also to help my patients maintain their whiteness level, I offer a whitening for life program at my office. If someone has whitening done at my office, they will receive a free tube of whitening gel at each of their follow up visits.
Whitening is a great process that I feel many people over look. Anytime anyone wants a better looking smile, it is my first recommendation simply because it is good for the teeth, non-invasive, and low cost. I can help my patients get back to the smile of their dreams quickly with at home whitening. If you have any questions about whitening or are interested in the process, please call us 504-392-5104.