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What To Know About Teeth Whitening

Have you ever wondered if teeth whitening is harmful or painful? Well, the answer is, it depends.

There are two types of teeth whitening: external and internal.

  • Straighter Teeth in Less Time: is achieved by removing stains on the outside of teeth by way of store bought products such as tooth-whitening toothpaste.
  • Internal whitening is a much more involved dental treatment and the main subject of this article.

What is Internal Tooth Whitening?

Internal whitening (AKA bleaching) is achieved with a chemical called hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is a small chemical that diffuses into the tooth and oxidizes teeth creating a much lighter tooth shade. Because every mouth is different, not everyone will see the same whitening results. However, with diligent and careful use of a tooth-whitening product, some of the toughest stains can be lightened.

Before beginning your teeth whitening treatment, we recommend scheduling a consultation with us. Our doctors will give you professional advice recommendations regarding the whitening products best suited to your teeth. Your doctor will also advise you on which teeth whitening strategy to choose. There are two options available:

  • At-Home Whitening
  • Professional Whitening

At-home whitening is best for patients who prefer to go at their own pace. Your doctor will help you find the best at-home teeth whitening kits available, at which point the whitening process will be left up to you.

But, if you’d rather let your doctor perform the internal teeth whitening process, the entire procedure can be completed in only one dental visit, after which you should notice a significant improvement in the color of your teeth.

Why is In-Office Teeth Whitening Better?

Professional teeth whitening offers several benefits over at-home treatments.

  • Immediate Results: See a dramatic improvement in tooth color in as little as one hour. 
  • Dramatic Improvement: Because our doctors use prescription-strength whitening solutions, you can expect much whiter teeth than what you might achieve with at-home kits.
  • Even Whitening: Over-the-counter products often whiten teeth unevenly. Our dental professionals are adept at achieving even, consistent whitening results.

The Teeth Whitening Procedure

The professional teeth whitening procedure is very simple and usually takes no more than an hour to complete. Your doctor will begin by inserting a protective barrier into your mouth to protect your lips and gums. They will then apply a tooth whitening gel containing the aforementioned hydrogen peroxide. They will aim a special light at the gel for twenty minutes before reapplying the gel. This process is repeated three times. Once completed, you’re all set! You should see improvements immediately.

The Teeth Whitening Procedure

When a healthy tooth is whitened, the tooth structure remains healthy and vital. The most common side effect is sensitivity from dehydration and irritation from hydrogen peroxide.

To avoid sensitivity, use a water-based product that helps keep the tooth hydrated and maintains a neutral pH preventing erosion and decay of teeth. If the hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with the gingiva or gums it may lead to bleeding gums and/or burn the gums. Here at Redwood Dental, we love to use Ultradent whitening products! Not only are they water-based but they are very sticky and thick, preventing bleach from going to unwanted areas. In addition to these sensitivity-reducing features, potassium nitrate and fluoride are added to provide further sensitivity protection.

As awesome as tooth whitening is, unfortunately, it doesn’t whiten everything. Tooth whitening will not whiten existing restorations like crowns and fillings. If you have planned dental restorations, in some situations whitening can be done before restorations and the restorations can be matched to the new shade to achieve a more esthetic look.

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