Friday, 30 April 2010

Behind the Smile - Tooth Whitening Facts & Fiction

A brilliant, white smile is often coveted and rarely achieved. There are currently dozens of at-home whitening kits, toothpastes and mouthwashes claiming to remove stains, and of course dentists ready to bleach your teeth to blindingly-white shades.

Trying to figure out what is real and what is fantasy in the world of cosmetic dentistry can be a challenge, and top New York Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Michael Entin has answered some of the common misconceptions about the practice of teeth whitening -

True or False? - The Truth About Teeth Whitening

"All teeth whitening gels are not the same"

TRUE: Not all whitening gels are the same. Even though most of them contain carbamide peroxide ("bleaching agent") they differ in the percentage of it used in a particular gel. Percentages can range from 5% to 45% or even more.

"All teeth can be whitened equally"

FALSE: The thicker the enamel layer of the teeth, the better is the whitening result. Most tooth stains are divided into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains are those that are within the chemical structure of the tooth itself – they cannot be bleached. Extrinsic stains are the result of outside staining like coffee, smoking, and red wine. Those stains can be bleached, so ask your dentist what kind of discoloration you have before you start a whitening procedure.

"I have to get the strongest gel so that my teeth can get whitest"

FALSE: You should consult your dentist for the proper strength of the gel. This should be done to avoid harming the teeth.

"Whitening toothpastes can bleach teeth"

MAYBE: Whitening toothpastes can bleach the teeth but only to an extent. Dr. Entin recommends that they be used in combination with whitening gel.

"Veneers, crowns, and tooth colored fillings will be whitened just like my teeth"
FALSE: All of the above are made from porcelain or resin composite and they cannot be bleached

"Tooth whitening can have side effects"

TRUE: There can be side effects if the proper instructions are not followed. There is increase in sensitivity, gingival burning, in some cased pulpitis (inflammation of the nerve and pulp inside the tooth). However, all of that can be avoided by consulting a dentist prior to the whitening process and strictly following your dentist's instructions.

"Dental insurance will pay for teeth whitening"

FALSE: Most insurance companies do not cover teeth whitening because it is considered to be a cosmetic procedure. Procedures like that are not covered most of the time.

"Whitening kits given by the dentist are the same as the ones purchased over the counter"

False: Over the counter kits contain a less active bleaching ingredient than the ones provided by the dentist, therefore it takes more time to whiten the teeth with over the counter kits.

"Once my teeth are whitened, they will stay white forever"

False: On average, tooth whitening can last six months, depending also on lifestyle habits like consumer foods and beverages that can stain the teeth.

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