Everyone wants white teeth. Let’s face it, a beautiful smile makes almost everyone more attractive!
But before you call the number on the latest infomercial at visit the teeth whitening kiosk at your local mall, you may want to visit your dentist.
Here are six reasons why:
1. You may have dental problems that you don’t know about. It is best not to whiten your teeth until your mouth is healthy. Whitening a tooth that has reversible pulpitis (a reversible irritation of the dental pulp), for example, could irritate the dental pulp sufficiently to push that tooth over the edge requiring a costly root canal treatment. Your dentist can diagnose and repair your teeth before you begin your teeth whitening procedure.
2. Your dentist can advise you about the several different methods available to whiten your teeth. As consumers, we get bombarded with advertisements telling us which teeth whitening product to use. The companies selling them have a financial interest in us purchasing their specific product. I don’t know of any dentists that manufacture their own teeth whitening products. A dentist can be a trusted source when selecting a teeth whitening product that will work best for you.
3. A dentist can tell you the cause of your teeth discoloration. In order to treat a problem, it is necessary understand the real cause of the problem. Teeth can become discolored for a variety of reasons:
- Teeth can be stained by certain drugs and antibiotics, such as tetracycline.
- Tobacco from chewing tobacco and cigarettes can stain the teeth.
- Certain foods and drinks, such as coffee can stain teeth.
- An injury to the tooth can cause it to become discolored.
- Silver fillings can discolor the teeth.
- Root canal treatments can cause the teeth to become discolored.
You don’t want to waste a bunch of money trying to whiten a tooth that has been discolored due to an injury of the dental pulp. Sometimes the only way to whiten certain teeth that have had root canal treatment is to have the dentist drill into the tooth and put a special bleach inside the tooth. This is known as internal bleaching.
4. Teeth whitening products only work on natural tooth enamel, not restorations such as crowns, veneers, and fillings. Let’s say you want to whiten your upper front teeth because those are the ones that most people see when you smile. Suppose you have a crown on one of the teeth, and a composite filling on one of the other teeth. If you try to whiten your teeth, you will only whiten the tooth enamel. The dental work you’ve had will stay the same color. This could make you look a bit awkward when you smile. Your dentist can let you know if you have any dental work that will compromise the effectiveness of a teeth whitening treatment.
5. Your dentist can create a custom whitening tray to fit your teeth. If not applied correctly, tooth whitening agents can burn your gums or damage the hard tissues in your oral cavity. Your dentist can provide instructions on how to best apply teeth whitening gel. Many gels come with a plastic mold that you heat up in some water and push onto your teeth. These “whitening trays” don’t do a good job of keeping whitening agents off of your gums, and may even hold the teeth whitening gel on your gums, resulting in a burn. A custom whitening tray will provide you with a healthy way to apply whitening gel to your teeth.
6. Your dentist understands your individual needs; teeth whitening companies do not. Your dentist will be aware of factors that affect your unique situation. If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist can help you choose the best teeth whitening method. Your dentist can also guide you in selecting the best shade for your skin tone and coloring.
As one example of this, many of the workers at local mall teeth whitening kiosks have no health training at all (even though they deviously wear medical scrubs.) In fact, one such kiosk has been shut down in South Carolina. Here’s a quote from WYFF Channel 4’s report on the story:
The South Carolina Board of Dentistry issued Laser Bright a cease-and-desist order on Wednesday night.The business operated in a kiosk in the corridor of the mall. In issuing the order, the state regulators said that the light the business uses for teeth whitening is is so strong it is only allowed to be used by a licensed dentist.
Can you see why it might be important to have someone with four years of training in oral health be the person supervising your teeth whitening?
While not imperative, I do recommend that you see your dentist before attempting to whiten your teeth. Involving your dentist in the process will help you to achieve your desired results without wasting time or money on the wrong products.
If you have any questions or comments about dentists and teeth whitening, type them below in the comments area.