Posts for: April, 2013

Bleaching Your Teeth

Your pearly whites not so pearly anymore? That can happen to any of us, for any number of reasons. The good news is that you don't have to live with a smile you're less than happy with. Tooth whitening can restore your teeth to their earlier brightness. But given the number of options and the cost and time involved with each one, how do you know which one is right for you?

As we age, the outer layer of enamel on our teeth is worn away, eventually revealing the darker tissue underneath. Our teeth may also become discolored from smoking, from drinking coffee, tea, and wine, and even from taking certain medications as a child such as tetracycline.

Almost everyone wants whiter teeth these days, says Dr. Baron. It's the number one aesthetic concern of my patients, he says.

Ways to Whiten

Tooth whitening can be achieved in two ways. A product can bleach the tooth. That means it actually changes the natural tooth color, usually anywhere from five to seven -- but even up to twelve -- shades brighter, which is how dentists assess tooth color. Bleaching products contain peroxides that help remove both deep and surface stains. The second whitening process uses non-bleaching products that work by physical or chemical action to help remove surface stains only.

Our office can provide you with a tooth-whitening system that you can use at home. At-home products come in a gel form that contains carbamide peroxide; the gel is placed in a custom-fitted mouthguard, created from a mold of your teeth. The bleach trays are usually worn for 2-4 hours per day usually for a couple of weeks. The length of time can range from one week to one month depending on how much whitening you need. This procedure costs around $400 and whitens the teeth four to seven shades.

Try This at Home?

Over-the-counter products are less expensive but will not brighten your teeth as much as professional products. Crest Whitestrips, for example, sell for about $40.  The American Dental Association says the products are safe; the range of whitening power they have, though, is usually just a shade or two.

Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal, but unlike bleaches, don't change the color of your teeth.

How to Decide

•Have your teeth evaluated by your dentist. "It's important to determine whether you're a good candidate for bleaching," says Dr. Baron. "It's not for everyone." In some cases of serious discoloration and pitted teeth, for example, veneers may be more appropriate than bleaching.

•And crowns, bridges, and fillings do not bleach, so you may need to replace dental work to make it blend with the new color of your bleached teeth. Dr. Baron recommends not only a dental exam, but X-rays as well. "Many dental problems are not visible to the naked eye when they're just beginning. Even if a problem -- such as receding gum lines -- is not very far along, the whitening process could cause you a lot of pain."

•Choose a dentist who is qualified and experienced. Not all dentists do bleaching, says Dr. Baron. Cosmetic dentists specialize in "smile solutions," he says.

•There can be side effects. "Occasionally, people experience some sensitivity in their teeth and gums during the bleaching process," says Dr. Baron. A study in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that 50% of people experience temporary tooth sensitivity as a result of home whitening treatment. People with receding gums appear most likely to experience such sensitivity. "The sensitivity usually goes away once the bleaching is stopped though," says Baron.

•Bleaching isn't permanent. "You may need a touch-up every several years. If you smoke and drink a lot of coffee, you may need the touch-up more often," says Baron.

Bleaching is an easy, inexpensive way to brighten your smile.  Call our office today to schedule an appointment to get started on your new, bright smile! 

(831) 426-9200 

E. John Baron DDS, INC.
550 Water Street, Suite L-1
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-9200


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