Upper East Dental Innovations

Q/A about Teeth Whitening- All You Want To Know About Teeth Whitening

Ask Dr. Harvey

(Written by Dr.Sharde Harvey DDS. MS.)

Are Teeth Whitening Strips or Whitening Pens Safe, What About Other Whitening Kits?

As long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions and use accordingly, teeth whitening should be safe. The percentage of whitening products used in over the counter whitening products are much lower than those used in offices so they are able to be sold over the counter. While we use 25 percent strength of the whitening agent, most over the counter products are less than 6 percent strength. So, if used according to instructions they should be safe, however, the effects of whitening may take longer to see since they are lower in strength.


How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

The way teeth whitening works is by a chemical process known as oxidation. Basically the same process as when you bleach the stains off your clothes! The hydrogen carbamide gel oxidizes the stains on your teeth during a chemical reaction which is catalyzed by a UV light or heat. This gel has free radicals which enables the reaction to occur quickly.


Are Teeth Whitening Lights Safe?

Teeth whitening lights are safe, there is usually an UV light which heats up and activates the gel to start the chemical reaction of the oxidation process to whiten the teeth. As long as you are not whitening your teeth once a week,and you do not have cavities,  whitening once a year should be very safe for your teeth enabling a beautiful bright smile.


Are Teeth Whitening Strips Supposed To Hurt?

Teeth sensitivity is one of the most common side effects of dentistry. It is unavoidable and most people doing teeth whitening whether in office or at home will experience some level of sensitivity. In-office whitening procedures do tend to cause less sensitivity and, because it’s supervised by a dentist will enable you to get the best results with less sensitivity.


Are Teeth Whitening Strips Effective Or Are They Bad For You, Causing Damage To Teeth Or Gums And How Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work?

Whitening strips are effective if used as directed, as long as the instructions are followed. Whitening strips is a matrix which carries the whitening gel which you apply to your teeth, while the strips are laying on the teeth, the gel seeps out onto the teeth to whiten them by a process known as oxidation or bleaching. They may cause some sensitivity especially if you have cavities and should not be used if you are not seeing a dentist every 6 months or if you have cavities as they will make your teeth more sensitive or may cause further damage to the teeth with cavities. Whitening gel may also make your gums sensitive and should not be used on a long term basis or damage to your gums may occur.


Are Teeth Whitening Strips Permanent And How Long Does Tooth Whitening Last?

No whitening procedure is permanent, especially if you are a heavy smoker, coffee drinker or eat or drink foods that are teeth stainers. Teeth whitening will generally last about 1-2 years depending on your food and drink habits. 


Can Tooth Whitening Cause Sensitivity?

One of the most common side effects and complaints of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity. All teeth whitening products cause some amount of teeth sensitivity although in office procedures cause the least amount. Teeth sensitivity is usually present for 1-2 days and can be helped by taking your pain killers of choice for those first day or so. Using potassium nitrate gel which you may order from your dentist and apply on sensitive teeth, may help tremendously with teeth sensitivity.


Which Teeth Whitening is Safest, Best and Works?

The safest and best teeth whitening procedure is at your dentist’s office under your dentist’s supervision. This will enable you to get the best results! The dental whitening products used are usually Zoom Whitening in most New York City dental offices and, it’s formula is changed every so often to solve this problem of teeth sensitivity. I have seen it become less and less sensitive for patients over the years. Because the materials used in a dental office is supervised by a dentist, 


How Does Teeth Whitening Gel Work And How Much Tooth Whitening Gel To Use?

Teeth whitening gel is a matrix that carries the hydrogen carbamide, which is the stain remover. Basically, the teeth whitening gel is like bleach and bleaches off the stains off your teeth as bleach would bleach off the stains off your clothes. This is an oxidative process.Only a very small dot of 3-4 mm diameter of gel should be used if you are using bleaching trays as the carrier.


What Teeth Whitening System Do Dentists Use?

Dentists are lucky when it comes to their teeth, because we have the knowledge and experience needed to help our own teeth look it’s best! We know that the best system is the one that will cause the lowest sensitivity and be the easiest and quickest to do. Zoom, Boost and other in-office whitening systems are the ones that we use frequently but, we will also use whitening trays from time to time with our preferred whitening gel (I like zoom daywhite) to keep our pearly whites dazzling!


What Teeth Whitening Do Celebrities Use?

Most celebrities can afford to get a professional teeth whitening at their dentist and many of them do! Celebrities want to look and feel their best and getting teeth whitening done quickly, safely and effectively is often their priority. Zoom or other in office whitening systems are usually offered in most high end dental practices. And if you want to look or feel like a celebrity, book your appointment here for a Zoom Teeth Whitening! www.uppereastdentalinnovations.com


When Teeth Whitening Doesn’t Work and When Does Teeth Whitening Work?

If you have been using teeth whitening products bought at your local pharmacy or online and it’s not working, you may be using it incorrectly or you may have crowns or fillings that whitening products do not work on. Or, your teeth may have tetracycline staining.  See your dentist for advice before any teeth whitening usage. You will get better results if you seek dental advice or supervision. And if teeth whitening still does not work, and your goal is to have whiter teeth, you may consider getting porcelain veneers. For a complimentary veneer consult, book an appointment at www.uppereastdentalinnovations.com

Teeth whitening works best on natural teeth which has extrinsic stains from foods and drinks. These are stains on the outside of the teeth. These stains can often be bleached off of the teeth with a whitening procedure especially if completed under a dentist’s supervision.


Where To Buy Tooth Whitening Gel?

Best place to buy teeth whitening gel is at your local dentist. Your dentist can take a mold of your teeth and make you custom whitening trays and then give you gel and instructions on how to use the gel. In 2 weeks time, you can go see him/her and check the shade and evaluate the results or tweak the treatment for optimum results. However, you may get whitening gel also from you local pharmacy or stores.


When And Why Teeth Whitening Is Bad Or Painful?

Teeth whitening is bad when you have cavities diagnosed by your dentist which you did not fix or if you have not been seeing a dentist every 6 months and you do not know if you have cavities. If you have cavities and you use whitening treatments not under a dentist supervision, then you can experience extreme and painful sensitivity. If the teeth are broken or the dentin is exposed and you place whitening gel on it, the whitening gel could cause a pulpitis of the nerve which may or may not be reversible and you could end up needing a root canal and crown. Before starting any whitening treatment, you should see your dentist to make sure there’s no contraindication to starting a whitening treatment and seek your dentist’s advice.


Why Use Teeth Whitening Pen?

If you are looking to whiten your teeth and do not like the messy gels, then whitening pens may work well for you. Pens are used on the surfaces of the teeth and over time they do whiten your teeth. Basically you scrub in the hydrogen Carbamide product into the face side of the teeth and wait for the whitening to happen. Because the strength of the product is low, it may take a month to see results.


Why Tooth Sensitivity After Whitening?

People experience tooth sensitivity after whitening because the gel gets into the pores of the teeth and changes the polarity near the nerve which is in the center of the tooth. This causes the nerves to act up and temporarily cause some pain. This pain however will only be present for a day or so and will subside quickly with pain killers of your choice.


Will Tooth Whitening Work On Fillings Or Crowns?

Tooth whitening will not work on fillings or crowns and will not whiten fillings or crowns. In order for the whitening gel to work, it has to be on a virgin tooth structure, meaning that the tooth surface has no bondings, no filling material, or porcelain or crowns on it. Whitening gel can only whiten up natural tooth structure.


Does Tooth Whitening Damage Enamel?

While Teeth whitening will dehydrate your teeth temporarily, it does not appear to damage enamel. After a teeth whitening procedure the appearance of teeth may be a little chalky, this is because teeth whitening dehydrates the teeth. Luckily the teeth are in the mouth! A wet environment which enables the rehydration of the teeth very quickly. 


Does Teeth Whitening Gel Expire?

Yes, all teeth whitening gels have an expiration date on them. This is according to the laws which govern these products. After a certain time, typically 2-3 years, these products break down chemically and are no longer effective and may not cause your teeth to be whitened if expired. Throw out any expired products and do not use them!


Does Teeth Whitening Toothpaste Work?

There are now many different teeth whitening toothpastes on the shelves of your local pharmacy. Which one to get? I recommend one with potassium nitrate in it which may counteract teeth sensitivity. However, if you are really looking to whiten your teeth, toothpastes may not be the quickest way to do it. Using whitening toothpaste long term may assist you with keeping those pearly whites white but won’t cause a drastic shade guide difference. If you don’t drink coffee, red wine or smoke, a whitening toothpaste over the course of 6 months to a year, may whiten your teeth about a shade or so whiter. 

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