If You’re Not Whitening, You’re Yellowing!


Ann Clark, RDH


If You’re Not Whitening, You’re Yellowing!
Every year our offices participate in a whitening opportunity that benefits not only our patients but also children and people in less fortunate areas of Africa.  Smiles of Hope is a non-profit organization where volunteers pay their way over to Africa to selflessly provide their services to benefit the less fortunate with eye and teeth assistance, while experiencing a life-changing adventure.  The whitening opportunity consists of products donated to our offices and we  happily donate our time.   100% of the money goes to the charity for product and supplies.  We offer 3 ways to whiten through trays and take home product,  In-office, Dentist supervised  applications to your teeth and the third option is through In-office Dentist supervised  applications with the trays and take home product as a package.  The prices are always at our lowest financial opportunity for you, the patient, during the months of March-June.
What is whitening and how does it work?
Tooth color is the result of genetics, drugs and meds during pregnancy,  the child during the tooth development stage, or an environmental factor such as increased fluoride uptake or maternal infections such as tetracycline stains, postnatal infection, measles, chicken pox, strep infections and scarlet fever.  Your tooth is made up of an outer hard enamel layer over the softer dentin. The enamel is porous and  will absorb stain from anything with color you put in your mouth…coffee, cigarette, foods.  Another layer basically forms on top of the enamel which we call a pellicle film.  We can clean this film with scaling and polishing, you can try to clean it with abrasive whitening toothpastes but this is like a scouring pad cleaning a dish.  As the film sits on your teeth, after years, is absorbs through the tooth’s pores.  Although these deeper stains are harmless they are unattractive.  This is when you need the “good stuff”.  Whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the enamel and set off an oxidation chemical reaction that breaks apart the staining compounds.  Whiteners use either a carbide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide agent.  When used in the mouth, carbide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the effective agent.
Is whitening safe?
Most studies confirm that whitening is with effective and safe.  Whitening products with less than 10% carbide peroxide (3.6 hydrogen peroxide), have not been shown to cause any concerns to tooth enamel.  Higher concentrations can cause some weakening to the enamel but these also contain fluoride which counter-acts this potential side-effect.  If tooth sensitivity or gum irritation occurs it is best to reduce product frequency and time spent whitening.  Prescription  fluoride is used to treat sensitivity sometimes associated with whitening.  Gum irritation can result from any of the whitening options but is reversible and usually mild.  Over the counter oracle can also treat these symptoms.
Before any whitening service it is always recommended to have had a dental examination and any cavities filled or other dental work accomplished.

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