How can we help you?
Having questions when choosing a dentist is natural! After all, your oral health is an important part of your overall health. Here is a list of some of the most common questions we receive. If you do not see yours listed below, please give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you.
Yes, a dental cleaning can whiten your teeth. In the same way that washing and waxing your car that is covered in dust makes your car shine, removing plaque and tartar can show off the natural beauty in your teeth. Tartar is a soft deposit on your teeth from food debris, and plaque is a mineralized deposit left on teeth from a combination of tartar, saliva, and bacteria in the mouth.
How Does a Dental Cleaning Whiten Teeth?
Unfortunately, this plaque and tartar can easily stain depending on what you put in your mouth which is why drinks such as coffee and wine, foods such as berries, and tobaccos use via cigarettes and dip easily stain teeth. Tartar can be removed by a toothbrush, but as soon as it hardens and becomes plaque, only professional dental instruments can remove it. Generally, the dentist or the hygienist will remove the larger pieces of plaque with instruments that are sharp enough to break through the plaque but not damage the teeth. Also, a water spray may be used which uses high-frequency sound waves to vibrate off plaque without hurting the teeth. After the majority plaque has been removed, then the dentist or hygienist will come back with a polish to remove the remaining plaque. This final step gives you that new teeth look.
Many kids and parents today want white teeth, and there is nothing wrong with that. Kids deserve to have a great, beautiful, and healthy smile as well. Generally, Dr. Schafer hears this request from parents either when their first adult teeth come in or in high school-aged kids.
When adult teeth come in on a 5, 6, or 7 years old, they will look more yellow than baby teeth. Healthy baby teeth are typically bright white whereas healthy adult teeth are ever so slightly yellow. When you compare baby teeth to adult teeth, the adult teeth will always look yellow, and that is normal. Not much can be done about it at this age, so Dr. Schafer rarely recommends whitening except in very badly stained teeth.
Teeth Whitening for Teenagers
Dr. Schafer usually has no problems with offering whitening to teenage patients, on the other hand. Often teens want whitening for the same reason that adults do: to have prettier looking teeth. Whether they are getting ready for prom or school pictures, Dr. Schafer will gladly examine your teen and see which treatment makes the most sense for them. Please keep in mind that whitening takes a few weeks at least to have noticeable results and to schedule your initial appointment about one month before the teeth should be fully or mostly whitened.
Whitening strips are strips of plastic that adhere to the front of teeth and apply a whitening gel to the teeth. They are sold at most pharmacies and range in price between 15-50 dollars. The whitening gel on the strips is similar to the type that is sold in most dental offices.
The Problems with Teeth Whitening Strips
Dr. Schafer doesn't recommend whitening strips because the strips do not mesh well with the teeth which causes two problems: because the whitening gels do not fit as well as a customized whitening tray, saliva touches the whitening gel causing it to break down quickly. The whitening gel is similar to hydrogen peroxide and if you place hydrogen peroxide in your mouth, you'll notice that it starts fizzing and bubbling. This fizzing and bubbling is the peroxide breaking down. In a similar way, when saliva is in contact with the whitening gel, it starts to lose it's potency and can quickly become useless. What generally happens is that the tips of the teeth whiten and the base of the teeth do not.
The second problem is that the gels can be very concentrated and can easily burn the gums if the strips are misplaced. Peroxide burns do not show up immediately and between two or three minutes to show up, and by this time, the damage has already been done. While these burns will heal in a few days, they sting in the meantime. If you burn your gums, Dr. Schafer recommends warm salt water rinses as well as whatever over the counter pain medication works best for you.
After whitening is done, it is normal for the teeth to become slightly darker and reach a stable color about one week after. While many dentists prefer to do "touch-ups" or whitening when needed, Dr. Schafer prefers to do regular maintenance. Much like you need to wash your car on a regular basis if you want it to always be clean and shiny, you need to do regular whitening if you want your teeth to always be at their brightest. As long as your whitening trays still fit, you can continue to wear them and put whitening gel in them. You may need to whiten between once per week to once per month to keep your pearly whites white. Dr. Schafer will tailor a specific regime to your individual needs.
Take-Home Whitening Gel
We offer whitening gel for purchase in our office. Your trays can be retained and reused indefinitely, as long as they fit and are in good shape. Certain lifestyle choices such as coffee consumption, red wine, tobacco use, and even colorful fruits and vegetables can quickly stain your teeth. Certain medications, even mouth rinses, can also stain your teeth. Brushing your teeth and maintaining regular professional dental cleaning appointments will help protect your smile.
For more information on teeth whitening in Gretna, LA call us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry today at (504) 392-5104.
Teeth whitening can make your teeth sensitive, but there are effective ways to help prevent it. For each patient that is whitening their teeth, Dr. Schafer recommends a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive, and they both work equally well. One week before whitening, you should start brushing your teeth with one of these kinds of toothpaste and you should continue throughout and beyond the whitening process. During whitening, Dr. Schafer recommends placing a small amount of the toothpaste in your tray and wearing it for 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after each whitening session.
Preventing Sensitivity when Deep Whitening
For his deep whitening patients, Dr. Schafer includes a desensitizing gel, which helps immensely. If you experience sensitivity, let us know so that we can provide you with this gel, allowing you to whiten your teeth comfortably. Sometimes the occasional pain or zinger will happen in spite of your best efforts, and for this pain Dr. Schafer recommends whichever over the counter pain medication you usually take to relieves headaches or muscle pain.
If sensitivity continues, try taking a day off in between treatments or leaving your trays in for a shorter period of time.
Thankfully, many people who follow these steps do not experience much discomfort with the whitening process and are thrilled with the final results.