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Teeth Whitening

Have questions about teeth whitening and how the process works? Our dentists took some time to share information and answer common patient questions to help educate about teeth whitening options. View the table of contents below to learn more or find your question and get an answer from one of our dentists!

Dr. Mike DesRosiers

 

 

The following content was provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers, LVIF Certified General Dentist, and has been medically reviewed for accuracy. Some relevant links have been added to audio transcripts to provide resources for additional information.

 

How does tooth whitening work?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

Dr. DesRosiers: Basically what tooth whitening does, is it uses some kind of a whitening agent, usually a peroxide-based solution, that is applied to your teeth and basically removes the stain by getting into pores and your teeth then and getting this staining out.

There are different kinds of applications. There’s gels, there’s strips, there’s trays, and then there are the more predictable Zoom type solutions that we do in the office. So a lot of different ways to do it and there’s really pros and cons to each.

Can I get a single tooth whitened?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

 
Dr. DesRosiers: Yeah, absolutely you can. So there are ways to do that if you have one tooth that is darker, but a really important part of that solution is to determine why is it dark in the first place. Is the tooth non-vital, has there been trauma to it and what is the cause of the darkness?

Sometimes it’s not just external staining, sometimes it is. In that case, you really would just apply the concentration to that one tooth alone and get it to the point where the others are. And so you really just focus your efforts on whitening that one tooth. If the stain is what’s called intrinsic, if it’s within the tooth, then there are other things that we can do. We can internally whiten the tooth like that in some cases. Or sometimes that tooth just needs to be restored to where you’d use something like a veneer or something to change the shade into the shade that you want.

Do store-bought teeth whitening kits work?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

Dr. DesRosiers: That’s a popular question. They do work. The trouble with them is, most of them, is they are not a custom-fit seal. And so though they do work, the active agent seems to get diluted because there’s nothing to keep the saliva and things from getting to it as well.

So with the strips, for instance, the strip supply to the outside and the inside of the tooth, they really don’t bathe the inter-proximal area between the teeth in the solution. So sometimes you do get some results, but sometimes it’s not a completely even result as the … You just won’t be able to keep the concentration of the whitener in that area that the saliva in your own mouth tends to dilute it, so you don’t get the desired effect always.

Does charcoal teeth whitening work?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

 
Dr. DesRosiers: Again, it has shown some effectiveness in very mild cases. I have not seen results that are really profound if there is a lot of whitening that needs to be done. It will brighten things up a bit in a smile that’s already fairly white, you will see some change. But for what most people need, I don’t feel that it’s adequate that to give you the result that you’re mostly looking for.

Why do my teeth hurt after a teeth whitening?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

Dr. DesRosiers: That’s another common question. So when you do the whitening, the peroxide will penetrate through the enamel of your teeth into the dentin. In the dentin of your teeth there are our pores that become sensitive when they’re exposed to the outside. So what happens is, as it penetrates and cleans out the impurities that caused the stain, it inadvertently opened some of these pores which will give you most often a transitive sensitivity. So it will be sensitive for a while to especially cold things.

So when you do the whitening, people will say, after a while said, “My teeth weren’t sensitive before, now they are.” And that typically will go away. For people that have that problem and still want to whiten, what we typically suggest is to space the protocol out a little bit. Instead of doing it every day, do it every other day or every three days. You’ll get the same effect, it’ll just take a little bit longer and you’re a little less prone to have as much sensitivity.

Does insurance cover teeth whitening at the dentist?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

 
Dr. DesRosiers: In my experience, insurance does not cover tooth whitening, only because it’s really viewed as a cosmetic only approach, and that’s just something most insurance companies do not cover. At least if they do, I’ve never seen it.

Does a teeth cleaning at the dentist whiten your teeth?

Answer provided by Dr. Michael DesRosiers. Transcript included below.

Dr. DesRosiers: So yeah, having your teeth cleaned is of course very important on many levels. If there are surface stains and things like that, the typical dental cleaning will remove those and we’ll make your smile brighter. So that’s absolutely the most important way to keep things whiter, is to keep up with the dental cleanings and your home care.

So I would say yes, in most cases when you leave your teeth will be a little whiter just from getting rid of any surface stains, coffee stains, wine stains, tea stains, those kinds of things. And it will certainly brighten things up.