Busting Common Teeth Whitening Myths

You've scheduled a consult with a cosmetic dentist to have your teeth whitened, but some rumors you've heard over the years have you wondering how well the procedure will work -- and if there are any health consequences. Here are a few key facts to know before you make a visit to your dentist.

Myth: You Only Need Teeth Whitening Done Once

There are two types of teeth stains: intrinsic, or interior, and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains happen in the dentin of the tooth due to the use of antibiotics at a young age or experiencing tooth trauma that injures the dentin. Depending on the severity of the intrinsic stain, your cosmetic dentist might be able to use a whitener to lighten the spot, but it's more likely that you will need to have a tooth-colored composite material applied to cover the spot.

Extrinsic or surface stains happen on the enamel usually due to drinking coffee or tea or the use of tobacco products. Most patients seeking teeth whitening are trying to fix extrinsic stains. The whitening process will likely work well, but if you go back to the same coffee and smoking habits as before, you're going to need another whitening done in the future. 

Myth: Whitening Causes Gum or Tooth Damage

If you already have healthy teeth and gums, then whitening isn't going to cause any damage or soreness for you. But if you are already prone to sensitive teeth and gums, the whitening agent might cause a bit of temporary irritation. If your teeth are severely sensitive, you might need to undergo a separate dental procedure such as tooth bonding first to improve the overall health of your mouth.

Note that if you have any major cavities, your dentist might also decide to fill those first before whitening. That's because cavities can expose tooth roots, meaning that the exposed teeth are going to be highly sensitive.

Myth: Whitening Can Lighten Crowns

If you have crowns or tooth-colored fillings that have stained over time, the regular teeth whitening process isn't going to lighten those materials along with your natural teeth. There's a chance that if the staining on your crowns is very minor, your dentist can use a specialty whitening agent made for cleaning artificial tooth materials. But severely stained crowns will need to be replaced if you want the tops of your teeth to even slightly match your newly whitened smile.

To learn more, contact a company like Bristol Dental Group with any questions you have.