American people have become more inclined to integrate health and wellness into their lifestyles. While diet and exercise produce healthy internal results, they also create positive changes to a person’s exterior appearance. A toned body is complemented by other improvements that can enhance one’s looks. Some people may choose to dye their hair or wear makeup, but the single most beautifying procedure of the face is teeth whitening.
Psychological studies have time and again shown that the appearance of good oral health can increase a person’s perceived self-esteem and well-being. A pearly white smile is not a luxury reserved for famous people with their faces plastered across screens and advertisements around the world; it’s for the hard-working person who drinks coffee, the person discovering fitness looking for an aesthetic boost, and people of all ages who wants their smiles to be a focal point. Modern-day dentists’ most popular cosmetic request from patients is to have whiter teeth, and the process is inexpensive, non-invasive, and, in the case of professionally performed whitening, offers instant results.
Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products
While many products are created to change the color of the teeth, they are not as effective as the treatment plans offered by Dr. Lazare. Read on to learn about the various options, and why they may not be ideal for aesthetic whitening of the teeth.
Whitening toothpaste often contains an abrasive ingredient that can wear away the enamel of the teeth by creating a vulnerability to cavities by eliminating the natural protective layer of the teeth, without impacting oral aesthetics. The buffing agents are often too abrasive for most people to use. These whitening toothpastes simply rub away the extrinsic surface stain; they don’t actually change to color of your enamel. Most dentists do not recommend mechanical whitening through this method.
Tooth-bleaching flosses are more for marketing and aimed at lightening the areas between the teeth by mechanically removing stained plaque, which will not offer much improvement to the front of the teeth, which is the area most seen when a person speaks or smiles. Whitening flosses are ineffective at best and may create hard-to-treat sensitivities throughout the mouth. Some flosses are even treated with an abrasive material like silica, which can wear away the side of the teeth.
Whitening Chewing Gum
Chewing gum with whitening agents is mostly chewed on the surface of the teeth that are not readily seen, such as the chewing surface and the backs of the teeth. The gum may prevent some stains from forming but likely won’t reverse any current discoloration, and it is not always socially acceptable to chew gum. Some brands of gum contain sugar, which are bad for oral health.
OTC Home Whitening Kits
At-home bleaching from over-the-counter kits has gained recent popularity but can create sensitivity and uneven results due to improperly fitted trays. Crest Whitening Strips are one exception for do-it-yourself teeth whitening, as they are formulated with an effective 5.3% hydrogen peroxide stripe that can be molded to fit the teeth. While the product works relatively well, the strips are clumsy and can create tooth sensitivity and will not bleach teeth beyond the length of the strip. Additionally, certain teeth that have undergone dental work, like composite-colored (tooth-colored) restorations, crowns, and veneers, will not become brighter. Root-canaled teeth will require more whitening attention for external bleaching and may also require a dentist-only internal bleaching solution.
Dental Exams Prior to Teeth Whitening
Many patients may not realize that their teeth should be in good health prior to undergoing a cosmetic whitening treatment. Whitening should never be performed on teeth where the whitening gel could seep into open areas of decay. It is also important to be aware of root exposure and areas of severe gum recession. If white spots or areas of demineralization are present, the patient should be made aware before whitening, as they temporarily become for obvious after treatment until the tooth rehydrates.
Dr. Lazare will perform an oral exam, complete with diagnoses and treatment plans if necessary. This approach will also help the doctor perform a thorough whitening of all the teeth, even those which would not normally respond to traditional methods.
Teeth Whitening Treatment Plans
At-Home Bleaching – Custom Trays made by your dentist
The two options are available to patients who choose to pursue teeth whitening at home: either custom-fitting trays for day- or for nightwear. A special is a solution provided by Dr. Lazare, and he will adjust the whitening trays as necessary to ensure a uniform result. For daytime use, we use a hydrogen peroxide-based solution for 30-90 minutes each day for anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. The night-time formula is a time-release carbamide peroxide that you wear for 2-4 hours or throughout the entire night. The use of a sensitive toothpaste is recommended preceding and during this time, and avoiding foods and drinks that are too cold or dark in color is also recommended during the time you are whitening.
Nighttime bleaching treatments enable the solution to remain on the teeth longer, and due to less salivary flow, can provide faster results. Each treatment will yield visible improvements in tooth coloration. Patients who wear retainers, Nightguards, or sleep apnea apparatuses are not ideal candidates for this form of teeth whitening and should ask Dr. Lazare about the daytime version of the regimen.
Dr. Lazare and his staff emphasize the use of custom-fitted trays for patient comfort, to minimize side effects, and to offer the best cosmetic result.
Patients can continue the treatment until their teeth have reached their desired shade. Results will vary for each person as some teeth are more resistant to whitening and others very receptive. By maintaining good oral health, most patients find their whitening procedure lasts for two years or longer unless whitening maintenance is performed. Patients who smoke, or drink coffee, tea, or red wine may notice changes sooner, though the return to the pre-whitened shade will be very gradual.
Teeth Whitening at Dr. Lazare’s New York Office
To ensure the health of the teeth, a prophylactic treatment (hygiene cleaning) may be performed to remove external stains, and a full set of digital X-ray along with a detailed dental history will allow Dr. Lazare to determine if a patient may experience sensitivity during a whitening session. Some patients experience sensitivity during the treatment while others may feel no sensation at all. Most discomfort experienced usually happens after the whitening has been completed. However, all sensitivity is expected to be gone within 24 hours of the procedure.
In-office whitening/bleaching (also called power whitening or laser whitening) is an alternative to at-home whitening methods and provides faster results. Other advantages include safety, the ease of the procedure, and more predictability in the aesthetic outcome. Dr. Lazare can assure excellent results when administering a teeth whitening procedure. Results are instantaneous and he can provide patients with an average of 8-shades whiter teeth using the Philips Zoom In-Office Whitening.
Peroxide, in varying strengths, is the primary ingredient in the solutions used for teeth whitening, including over-the-counter strips, at-home tray use, and with Dr. Lazare’s in-office treatment. Some patients choose to have their teeth whitened by Dr. Lazare because the tray worn during the home application causes a gag reflex. Others grind or clench their teeth, which prevent a proper bleaching.
An analysis of laser whitening showed that it activates bleaching chemicals in the same way as other light sources, and is not superior to any light source that excites the molecules will effectively lighten the teeth. Some common methods utilize argon lasers, ion plasma lamps, and curling lights, which are aimed at activating the peroxide into a useful bleaching agent. If this is not accomplished, the light just acts as heat to the teeth. Laser treatments are more costly, but again, will not necessarily provide better results than through other methods.
Candidates for Teeth Whitening
Patients who are dissatisfied with the appearance of their smile, without evidence of serious dental problems may be good candidates for a bleaching process. While some procedures are off-limits due to a person’s overall health, tooth bleaching is noninvasive and more dependent upon oral health. Teeth that yellowed in appearance versus a gray color tend to respond more favorable to aesthetic whitening procedures. If the patient is in charge of their own regimen at home, they must be dedicated to regular treatments for the best outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions about Teeth Whitening
Will tooth whitening work well for all patients?
If a patient’s teeth have become discolored through the natural aging process, the prognosis for a more youthful smile is excellent. Dramatic results will be gradually revealed in just one to four weeks of the at-home whitening treatment. A bleaching treatment at Dr. Lazare’s office can be performed in conjunction with the dentist-prescribed trays and solution for at-home use for stubborn stains. Each treatment plan can be customized based on patient’s needs. Almost everyone with natural tooth structure can expect to see significant results with the proper combination and duration of tooth whitening protocols.
Why won’t certain dental work be lightened by teeth whitening?
The majority of the materials used in dental care (including porcelain and composite bonding) will not be affected by the peroxide used to whiten the teeth. Bonding can always be modified to blend with the whitening results and porcelain work may need to be remade to adequately blend. Additionally, teeth with root canals may not be lightened by traditional methods and will require additional intervention treatments, such as internal bleaching
Will white spots on the teeth be removed through the bleaching process?
No, but they will blend in with the surrounding tooth color to become less noticeable. In certain cases, the white spots may be buffed out through enamel microabrasion techniques or troughed out and restored with a composite material to help blend.
In teeth that have become discolored due to the prescription antibiotic, tetracycline, how long will the whitening process take?
Stained teeth following an antibiotic regimen with this medication may take longer, typically between 1-2 months, to reveal results. Still, Dr. Lazare has experienced success in these patients. Single darkened teeth will lighten over time, and a custom-made night guard for a single tooth to be treated can be made, or if it was a tooth previously treated with root canal therapy, then internal bleaching is suggested with the external bleaching.
Visit New York’s Dr. Lazare for a Consultation
When performed under the guidance of a dentist, a number of teeth whitening techniques have been deemed both safe and effective by the American Dental Association and has provided their prestigious Seal of Approval to these systems. Dr. Lazare can administer products in safe amounts for durations of time that will not cause adverse effects. Interested candidates should schedule a consultation to learn which method will best achieve their dental aesthetic results.
Call Dr. Lazare’s New York, NY office at 212-861-2599 or send an email to [email protected] to begin the process.