I’m not sure who’s reading this besides my parents, but hopefully as time goes by some of my non-family member patients will tune in and hopefully find this an informative blog. Besides covering some relevant topics in the headlines and giving you info on the office, I’m going to post the answers to some commonly asked questions.
I get asked very regularly, how does bleaching work. First of all, let’s call it lightening our teeth. It’s actually quite simple. There are a few lightening agents but think of them as forms of hydrogen peroxide. Yes, you know the stinky stuff that comes in a brown bottle and bubbles when you put it on a wound. The form of that peroxide we use to lighten teeth is a little different then the stuff you buy at the drug store, it’s a gel, so it stays where we put it. It’s prescription strength or more concentrated and powerful. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t smell funny. But it works almost the same way. Just like when you put peroxide on a wound it bubbles, so does it on the surface of your teeth. The bubbles are smaller and you don’t see or hear them, but when they get into the layers of the tooth they bubble up and bring the deep stains from all those vices [coffee, tea, red wine, tomato sauce, fruit juices, tobacco (hopefully none of you reading this use it) etc.] out to the surface of the tooth where it’s washed away after the lightening procedure is over.
There are several ways to lighten your teeth. Whitestrip’s work. They have an over the counter strength lightening agent that’s not as effective as what your dentist can provide you with. So they take longer to achieve a result, like weeks and months. As a dentist I can prescribe a whitening agent for you, and I can do it several ways. I can make you some customized trays to deliver the prescription strength lightening gel to your teeth. Basically you wear these trays at night for a few hours or over night (depends on a few factors that we’ll discuss first) and you’ll start to see them lighten in few days or a week. Or I can lighten them with an in office 1HR lightening procedure. We’ll isolate your lips and cheeks off your teeth, apply the activated lightening agent and in an hour you can see some pretty drastic results.
I’m also asked quite often, does bleaching hurt my teeth? The answer is….it depends on how you define hurt. If you define hurt as damage to teeth, there have been no published studies showing that damage to your teeth can be caused by lightening them. There is not structural damage to the tooth and the effect from lightening is not permanent.
If you define hurt as cause some pain or sensitivity, then some people might experience this. The number one side effect from bleaching is sensitivity. The longer the lightening agent is on your teeth the deeper it goes and the closer to the nerve it gets. It can be slightly annoying to the nerve to have peroxide near your nerve and it causes the nerve to become a little hypersensitive to hot or cold or certain foods. But rest assured the sensitivity from lightening your teeth is not permanent either, it usually fades in a few hours to a day. I also have some protocols that I can recommend to reduce the sensitivity before the lightening procedure and to reduce any discomfort after.
I also see adds for UV whitening at the tanning salons. Just remember you’ll probably get what you pay for there. Last time I checked they don’t’ have dentists working there so you probably are not using very strong lightening agents.
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If you’re looking for a Dentist in San Diego, you can request an appointment online or call the office at 858-487-4727. And always you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only one with access to that email so you’ll always get my authentic response.