Friday, September 12, 2008

White White White

Coming to the dentist unfortunately is not many people's favorite things to do. True, there are a few people that LOVE the dentist (usually those with perfect teeth, no cavities, etc), but for the most part, people feel somewhere along the spectrum of anxious to fearful. One of my most heard lines are, "I hate the dentist." (Why thank you, I think this appt is off to a great start!") This may be second only to, "I HATE needles." I don't blame people, I feel mild to moderate dislike for both going to the dentist (as a patient) and needles myself.

But, once there you can do some fun things! Tooth whitening is a popular elective treatment that many of my friends and patients ask me about.

OTC whitening options are many. The basic principles between bleaching are (1)-duration (amount of time bleaching agent is in contact with the teeth) and (2)-concentration (of the bleaching agent). You can use these principles to guide your OTC whitening purchases. As you can imagine, a toothpaste, gum, or mouthwash that are in contact with the teeth only a few minutes are very unlikely to yield any noticeable results. If anything, they may help remove staining such as tobacco or coffee stains from teeth through abrasives in the paste. White strips do work but follow the directions. People can become addicted to whitening. Don't go so far that they teeth are too opaque and chalky looking. We call this look "chiclet teeth" like the square mexican gum.

The best results are achieved by having custom trays made by your dentist. Your dentist will have a consultation with you to determine what has caused the staining and what the best options are to improve the color. Usually, a set of impressions will be made. The impressions will be poured up in stone as a model of your teeth. Soft plastic trays will then be made off of the casts to fit your mouth. Trays will be worn at night 1 week or until the desired shade is reached. Teeth can be retouched as needed. This is a more expensive way to go but will yield the best results. For some with staining caused by old metal fillings, severe fluorosis, some medications, or tooth trauma, other methods such as surface abrasion, internal bleaching (after root canal treatment), or even veneers or crowns may be other options.

Doesn't Brenna look happy knowing bleaching is on the way?

If you have any questions, please let me know.

1 comment:

shawn said...

You forgot to mention that the fun is in the impressions!! I mean you get to have cookie dough goo in your mouth to make the molds for the tray!!
I hope that she has a great result!!