There’s no doubt that a gleaming, white smile is attractive. And, with teeth whitening treatments available at every drugstore and superstore, it’s easy to think that this readily available treatment is hazard free.
Teeth whitening can be safe and effective when done as prescribed. But, whether done at your dentist’s office or with an over-the-counter product, there are do’s and don’ts to avoid complications.
The American Dental Association recommends that a cosmetic dentist be your first stop when contemplating tooth whitening, and for good reason. A loose filling or cavity could allow the bleaching agent to seep into the tooth’s root, causing extreme pain and, potentially, damaging the root permanently. In some cases, root canal treatment would be needed to save the tooth.
Dr. Thomas G. Zarger, serving the Knoxville area, can advise you on how to avoid teeth whitening risks. A practicing cosmetic dentist serving Knoxville, Maryville, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for more than 30 years, he can help you achieve a whiter smile while avoiding complications.
If your teeth are healthy, side effects from tooth whitening are usually temporary. The two most common side effects are:
- Tooth Sensitivity. Sensitivityto hot and cold is a common side effect, but one that usually disappears in 24 hours. If your teeth are naturally sensitive, then using a whitener with less peroxide or reducing the treatment time can diminish this side effect. If sensitivity lingers, consult a dentist.
- Gum Irritation. When the bleaching agent touches the gums it can cause discomfort and change the color of the gums, depending on how long the peroxide sits on the gums. This is not unusual and typically heals in a few hours or a couple days. To avoid this, excess whitener should be wiped off the gums. Custom-made bleaching trays also help minimize contact with the gums. If you have gum disease, consult a dentist before whitening.
Other side effects include:
- Undesirable Results. Your results may not match expectations. Whiteners can only whiten teeth to their original color. If your teeth are naturally darker, a whitener cannot improve the natural color. In addition, whiteners cannot treat all types of discoloration. A dentist can advise you what types of stains respond to peroxide.
- Uneven Results. If you have dental restoration work, such as crowns or porcelain veneers, you should think carefully before whitening because restorations will not whiten along with your teeth. Since your restorations match your current tooth color, should you whiten your teeth the restorations will be darker, causing an unattractive mismatch.
Misuse of Teeth Whitening Products
Side effects are normally temporary, but misuse of whitening products can permanently damage teeth.
Over bleaching teeth can turn teeth dull grey or translucent. With continued misuse, the enamel erodes off, making teeth weak and brittle. The damage is permanent. You may also destroy gum tissue or accelerate gum recession, which can expose tooth roots and make them susceptible to decay.
If you want to improve your smile safely, please call our offices. We would be happy to determine if the discoloration on your teeth is the type that will respond to whiteners, and explain how you can avoid negative side effects.