Teeth can lose their pearly whiteness in a variety of ways. As we age, tooth enamel tends to thin allowing the underlying layer of dentin (which yellows over time) to show through. Additionally, the foods and drinks you choose, tobacco, certain medications and trauma also play their role to darken and discolor teeth. Are you satisfied with the color of your teeth? Read on to learn about the tooth whitening options offered at Bash Dental in Doylestown, PA.
Can All Teeth Be Whitened?
There’s no doubt that whitening (also called bleaching) your teeth can boost self-confidence. Whiter teeth also provide a more youthful and appealing appearance—but it’s not for every smile. Teeth that have been restored with caps or crowns, dental implants, bonding and fillings won’t respond to whitening agents.
Further, you shouldn’t use teeth whitening products if you’re pregnant, nursing or have braces. If you have extreme tooth sensitivity or worn enamel, whitening can exacerbate these conditions. Even if you plan to use store-bought products to brighten your smile, damage to teeth and gums is still possible. So be sure to discuss your cosmetic goals with one of our dentists who will be happy to help you determine the safest, most effective way to achieve the bright smile you’re after.
Surface Tooth Whitening
Discoloring and staining that occurs on a tooth’s outer layer (enamel) is known as ‘extrinsic.’ Extrinsic staining typically arises from foods, drinks and tobacco use. This type of discoloration is treated using a potent surface bleaching agent that’s not available in stores.
The process starts at our Doylestown, PA dental practice. After a pretreatment examination, we’ll take impressions of your teeth to create a custom-fitted whitening tray. This allows for even coverage and protects gums. After providing treatment instructions based on your specific state of oral health— we’ll dispense a high-potency, professional-strength whitening gel that you’ll use for at-home treatment.
Results will vary depending on several factors including the type of discoloration and genetics. Surface whitening results are noticeable anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on the severity of discoloration and staining. Over-the-counter whitening products may be recommended by the dentist so you can maintain your new hue periodically over time.
In the months and years following root canal treatment, the tooth may appear to be stained, darkened or discolored. Teeth may also have internal or ‘intrinsic’ discoloration prior to the root canal. This form of discoloration arises from inside of the tooth and must be treated accordingly. Internal or ‘non-vital’ bleaching is a conservative cosmetic procedure that’s only possible in teeth that have received root canal treatment. Only your dentist can provide this type of smile-enhancing procedure.
After an exam and X-rays, the area is numbed using a local anesthetic. A small access hole is created at the back of the tooth through which a bleaching agent is delivered. Finally, the small access hole is sealed with a durable composite resin. Results can be immediate. If needed, teeth may be treated more than once to achieve desired results.
A female patient came to us with a chipped front tooth requiring root canal treatment. The tooth had become discolored as a result of past trauma and she was quite concerned about restoring the original shade.
After listening to her concerns, Dr. Bash presented internal bleaching as an option to restore the tooth’s color following root canal treatment. Subsequently, we were able to achieve the patient’s goals without resorting to a more costly crown. This approach allowed her to keep the natural tooth and enjoy uniform coloration.