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  • Writer's pictureThe Tooth Doctors

Whitening Questions Answered

September 9, 2011 by kasia

Part of my responsibilities here at The Tooth Doctors is ordering dental supplies for our office, which means that I receive catalogs and brochures from dental suppliers. Recently I received a brochure entitled “Everything You Need To Know About Tooth Whitening” which I thought I would share because tooth whitening is one of the most asked about topics with our patients.

Here are just a few answers to some of our most common questions asked:

Q: Which is more harmful to tooth enamel – orange juice or hydrogen peroxide (a whitening agent)?

A: Orange juice contains a much stronger acid content than hydrogen peroxide, therefore the enamel will “literally wash away” over time with an excessive amount of orange juice. A recent study shows that enamel samples treated with orange juice for 20 minutes in a cycle  showed a 64% decrease in enamel hardness compared to no significant changes in enamel samples treated with 6% hydrogen peroxide over the same period.

Q: How old do you have to be to whiten your teeth?

A:  Generally the answer to this question would be whether the patient is old enough to be responsible for adequately handling and using the take home bleaching system. At The Tooth Doctors we suggest the patient be over the age of 18 to whiten their teeth. Occasionally there are indications for whitening a younger persons teeth, such as when a parent and child feel there are stains on the teeth which cause the child to feel self conscious or be teased.

Q: Is whitening effective on patients with gums disease?

A: No. Whitening solutions will only whiten enamel and not root surfaces, which are exposed on patients who have gum disease because the gums have receded. The result of whitening on a patient with gun disease will be a two toned appearance.

Q: Are bleached teeth more susceptible to staining?

A: No. Bleached teeth actually have an increased resistance to staining, however it is best to avoid eating or drinking anything while wearing bleaching trays because the enamel is at higher risk of staining during and immediately after bleaching while the bleach is being infused into the tooth.

Q: Why do some whitening products cause more sensitivity than others?

A: Sensitivity is a common side effect from whitening and can be caused by such things as concentration of the bleach, duration of the treatment, cavities in the tooth or recession. Some whitening products contain potassium nitrate with fluoride which are both considered to be desensitizing agents. These can be recommended for patients who are susceptible to severe sensitivity.

Q: Why do non-vital (root canal) teeth sometimes relapse faster than vital whitened teeth?

A: A non-vital tooth has no pulp or vital nutrients to help maintain the color and will therefore relapse faster than a vital tooth.

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