There’s all this talk about whitening and the potential risks or side effects that it causes so one may come across a few questions before proceeding with the procedure. These are a few of those questions answered!
Is it a real laser? How does it work?
No, it is not a real laser. The “laser” part of the machine is a LED that activates the whitening agents that are put on your teeth when the teeth are prepped at the beginning of the procedure. As the whitening agent is activated and goes through the enamel, it reaches the dentin to lighten it.
Does it hurt?
In essence, no! The whitening procedure does not hurt. However, some patients have been found to experience a bit of discomfort that last about a second from time to time while getting the whitening procedure. This is caused by the whitening agents being activated and working to whiten the dentin layer under the enamel of the teeth (please see here to find out what dentin is!).
Are there side effects? If so how long does it last?
Yes, some patients experience a bit of teeth sensitivity after the procedure which is totally normal. It is a part of the “pores” of the enamel being open from the whitening agents passing through it. They close naturally over the next few days and the sensitivity goes away.
I have white spots on my teeth. Will it go away with whitening?
In short, no. There are a number of reasons why white spots appear on the teeth and it has nothing to do with teeth stains. The white spots that occur can be from a various reasons including early stages of cavity, demineralization, decalcification, enamel hypoplasia, fluorosis, etc. that have various contributing factors that cause it. Whitening may lighten the teeth surrounding the white spot to make it blend in more, but it will not do anything to make the white spots go away. For white spots, it is best to consult with the dentist to see what is causing it and steps to treat it, such as veneers or composite resin.
Will the whitening damage my enamel?
When whitening is done in moderation and not done frequently, it should not cause damage to the enamel. We would recommend getting whitening done once a year, maybe two at most.
I have composite resin fillings and crowns. How will whitening affect them?
Whitening will not work on restorations – fillings, inlay, onlay, veneers, crowns, etc. as these are synthetic materials. The whitening agent only works on your actual teeth. If you have a filling that is visible, and the filling blends in with your natural teeth, you may not want to get whitening done; whitening will make the rest of the tooth lighter but the color of the filling will stay the same so that part will be dark. If the filling is on a molar on the inside of your smile line, it’s not something that should cause too much concern.
How can I keep my teeth white after the procedure?
Good hygiene is key! Brush and floss after your meals and regular visits to the doctor for checkups and cleanings (scaling). At the Oaks Dental Clinic, we also offer the home kit – it helps keep the teeth white! You will have a tray made customized to your teeth so that they fit perfectly and whitening gel that you use (only pea sized amounts at a time!) to help keep your teeth bright. The home whitening kit does not have dramatic effects like the office whitening (whitening you get done in the clinic) but when you feel that your teeth has gotten a tad bit dark, the home whitening kit can help brighten it back to similar brightness.
There are so many questions that come to mind when looking to get a new procedure done. Make sure to consult with your doctor to ensure all questions are answered before getting a procedure. Teeth whitening is one of the most least invasive ways to enhance a person’s smile without so many side effects. It takes less commitment, is more affordable than other procedures and it takes a fraction of the time to complete the procedure without repeating visits to the dentist!