Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic dental treatment in the United States, helping millions of Americans achieve a brighter smile every year. With just one professional treatment, teeth can be become multiple shades whiter with little hassle or risk to the patient. Still, even non-invasive procedures can result in side effects or pose some level of risk. To better serve our patients in the Las Vegas area, here is what you can reasonably expect from teeth whitening treatment.
Side Effects of Whitening
Because teeth whitening utilizes a topical gel, which is often applied only once, there are very few side effects from treatment. The most commonly reported side effect is increased sensitivity with the teeth, due to the hydrogen peroxide bleaching ingredient. This sensitivity may range from a dull ache to sporadic pain that shoots down the middle of of the tooth. Patients who experience the most sensitivity tend to have receding gums, damaged teeth, tooth erosion, restorations in need of replacement, or teeth that are already sensitive. The duration of this effect varies among patients, but does not typically last beyond 48 hours.
Similarly, patients may experience irritation in their gums as a result of whitening. This is due to the whitening gel coming in contact with gum tissue, which can often be minimized with a properly fitting tray during treatment. Irritation should not last more than a few days.
To reduce these side effects, we offer a whitening gel that contains potassium nitrate – an effective ingredient in helping soothe sensitive tissue. For patients who already suffer from damaged or sensitive teeth, a take-home whitening kit allows treatments to be spread out, each containing a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide than a single in-office treatment.
Younger Patients, Beware
Generally, teeth whitening treatment is reserved for patients 16 and older. This is because younger teeth have relatively larger areas of dental pulp and dentin, which are the softer, more sensitive tissues. Younger patients will therefore experience more tenderness or pain from treatment. Those who are under 16 years of age are encouraged to maintain good hygiene and take care of their teeth to prevent stains from forming; they can always whiten their teeth in later years if still desired.
Limits of Whitening
Whitening gel is a great way to remove surface stains from teeth, but it can’t always remove intrinsic stains that are embedded below enamel. Discoloration from sources such as medication, trauma, or fluoride may not be impacted by whitening. Patients are thus advised to have realistic expectations about the results of their treatment. In order to better determine which stains can be removed by whitening, speak with yourcosmetic dentist.
Similarly, tooth-colored restorations such as dental bonding, crowns, bridges, and veneers will not be affected by whitening. If a resin or porcelain restoration was matched to the current shade of your teeth, whitening treatment may result in teeth that are differently colored than the restoration material. If you would still like to have whitening treatment, keep in mind that prior dental work can be replaced to accommodate your smile.
Risks of Over-bleaching
Some patients are so satisfied with their whitening treatment that they seek additional treatment in the near future. While intermittent whitening can produce great results, excessive exposure to the gel can be harmful to tooth enamel. Patients who repeatedly whiten their teeth, either professionally or through over-the-counter products, risk exposing the inner tissues. In such circumstances, restorative treatment such as dental crowns would be needed to protect worn teeth.
Considering Teeth Whitening?
Whitening treatment can provide you with a radiant smile that can last for years. We have multiple whitening products and treatment options to suit the various needs of our patients. If you are considering enhancing the color of your teeth,contact our office to inquire further or schedule an appointment.