We see commercials for whitening products on TV, and can’t buy a tube of toothpaste without seeing “ultra-white” or “extreme whitening” on every box! But do you really know the truth about teeth whiteners? How are dentists’ whitening treatments different from what you can buy at the store? Let’s start by debunking a few commonly held beliefs about teeth whitening.
If you would like to brighten up your smile, Knoxville dentist Dr. Jack Haney provides flexible whitening treatments to fit all lifestyles and budgets. Call us at 865-693-6886 to set up a consultation.
Myth 1: All Whiteners are the Same
The biggest myth of all is that whitening treatments are all the same. Many people mistakenly believe you can get the same results with store products that you get from dentists’ products. This myth likely originates with the fact that all whiteners use the same ingredient (hydrogen peroxide) to break down pigment stains. That part is true, but the products you get at the drug store are neither strong enough, nor contain a reliable quality of peroxide, to deliver the best results.
Like all chemical compounds, peroxide will degrade if not kept in optimal conditions. The quality of whitening products is lessened by uncontrolled environmental factors, such as sitting on a shelf for months or years, or travelling in an over-heated transport truck. Dentists are also allowed to use “prescription strength” peroxide, because we understand how it affects tooth enamel and will use the product safely. Additionally, dentists’ products use customized methods of delivery to keep whiteners in better contact with the teeth, which also makes whitening treatments more effective.
Myth 2: Whitening Damages Your Teeth
When done properly, whitening does not harm your teeth. If you use over-the-counter whiteners non-stop for years, then yes, you may demineralize your enamel with the constant barrage of peroxide. When done only sporadically or for a short period of time (6 weeks, for example) your teeth have time to recover between whitening treatments via a natural remineralizing process.
How does whitening work? When a whitening gel is applied to the teeth, hydrogen peroxide slowly breaks down and releases oxygen deep in the matrix structure of the enamel. Oxygen bubbles break up the pigment residues that create stains. If you have every used an oxy-based laundry soap or carpet cleaner, you know that oxygen is a powerful cleaner. (It is the same process that makes club soda an effective stain-fighter, as well). When used properly, peroxide gel does not harm the enamel. In many ways, the fastest whitening treatments—such as Zoom! whitening—can be considered the safest, because you limit your peroxide exposure to just one day.
Myth 3: Whitening Toothpastes are the Same as Whitening Treatments
If you’ve every gotten poor results from a whitening toothpaste, you really shouldn’t be surprised. Most whitening treatments are effective because they keep the active ingredients in contact with the teeth for at least 20-30 minutes at a time. No matter how strong the concentration of peroxide, two minutes of brushing with a “whitening” toothpaste will not produce the same result as 30 minutes of constant contact with a whitening gel.
Myth 4: All Stains are Caused by Pigments in Foods and Beverages
Overall discoloration of the teeth is most frequently caused by food, beverages, and tobacco products. These stains are referred to as extrinsic because they are found in the enamel. But there are a number of ways to stain the dentin below the enamel and create intrinsic stains. For example, injury to the mouth can lead to discoloration in the dentin, as can antibiotics such as tetracycline. Most whitening products will not penetrate the dentin, but there are some treatments that can remove intrinsic stains. For example, KoR and Zoom! whitening have been able to lighten and eliminate tetracycline stains for many patients.
Myth 5: Whitening Treatments are Painful
It’s true that you may feel some short-lasting sensitivity to hot and cold foods after a powerful whitening treatment, but the burning sensation most people feel when they self-whiten at home is the result of poor quality products. When one-size-fits-all whitening trays and strips are used, they slide around on the teeth and allow peroxide to come in contact with the gums. The pain you feel from peroxide on the gum tissue is, thankfully, something that should never happen with dentist-provided whitening treatments.
Dr. Haney Provides Whitening Treatments
If you are interested in a fast, convenient way to remove stains and brighten your teeth, visit Dr. Jack Haney to learn about Zoom! in-office whitening. This treatment provides dramatic whitening (up to 8 shades lighter) in about 45 minutes. Zoom! uses a unique light that activates and accelerates the bleaching process, and allows the ingredients to penetrate the dentin as well as the enamel. We also provide take-home whitening treatments that use customized trays to deliver whitening gels more efficiently than store bought products.