Teeth are porous, and over the years they can become stained and discolored from coffee, teas, berries, red wine, cigarettes and other dark foods. Some types of medications and antibiotics can also result in dark teeth if a person was taking them as a child when their permanent teeth were forming. Our professional Los Gatos dentists can use teeth whitening that can turn back the clock on any types of stains, even on the toughest of long-term stains. We offer two types of whitening procedures in our dental office which have the ability to quickly undo years of tooth discoloration.
We offer two types of teeh whitening. The Home Whitening process is the more basic of the two. With this technique, a custom made whitening tray is made using models of your teeth. We provide you with a whitening gel which is applied to the teeth using the trays for two weeks. We have found that this method works best for cases in which the teeth are not darkly stained, but have a yellowish appearance.
Our second teeth whitening method is a Laser Whitening, which we also call a Deep Whitening. This method also uses the whitening tray just mentioned, but we perform two 1 hour in-office whitening session- one of them before you start your two week home whitening and the other right after you finish. The in-office sessions involve the use of a stronger whitening agent and the use of our Laser to accelerate the whitening process. We have found that this method works best for teeth that are more darkly stained, or have more of a gray, orange, or brown appearance.
We have found that the Deep Whitening works best in combination with the take-home trays, and we do not recommend just doing the in-office laser whitening because the results are not as good as we would like. All of our teeth whitening procedures will only whiten teeth- dental crowns, caps, veneers and teeth fillings will not whiten. It may be necessary to replace some dental work to correct any inconsistancies in color after the teeth are whitened.
Whitening teeth is similar to bleaching laundry, but using chemicals which are not damaging to the teeth. Basically, the whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical reaction (specifically, an oxidation reaction) that breaks apart the staining compounds. Once these compunds are broken apart, the dark colors dissappear.
View your teeth under a microscope and the surface will look something like a honeycomb. Thousands of tiny tubes (called "enamel rods") are lined up side by side forming the enamel, and beneath them "dentin tubules" form the tooth's inner layer. Over time, the stains on the tooth's surface work their way through this system of tubes and become trapped within the honeycomb structure. The stain is now part of your tooth. We dentists call this "intrinsic stain". It can't be brushed away, no matter how hard you try.
Now, it takes a lot of time for intrinsic stain to form because the tubes in the "honeycomb" tend to be "plugged up" with organic matter. If they were wide open, your teeth would be terribly sensitive to temperature changes, especially cold. In order to work, bleaching agents need to remove the plugs so they can penetrate to the inner layer of your teeth, where they work their magic. The active ingredient loses effectiveness quickly, so no need to worry that you're trapping harmful chemicals inside. After some time (usually a couple of weeks), the plugs return.
This explains why it's common for teeth to become sensitive during and after the teeth whitening process, and why the effect subsides. Teeth sensitivity is the number one side-effect that gives teeth whitening a bad rap, and makes people think it's doing permanent harm. The strength of the whitening agent, how it's applied, and how long/frequently the teeth are exposed are all factors in sensitivity. So is the degree of temperature sensitivity you have before you whiten. We have de-sensitizing products we can use to help minimize the sensitivity people experience from whitening their teeth. It has been our observation that most people only develop minimal sensitivity with whitening, but about 1 out of 10 will need to use some form of de-sensitizing product. As a general rule, if your teeth are sensitive to begin with, they will get more so (temporarily) when whitening.
The bottom line is that teeth whitening is a perfectly safe and harmless beauty treatment that almost anyone can afford. Older methods of tooth whitening relied on highly abrasive compunds designed to strip away the stains from the teeth, they also removed enamel and did permanent harm to the teeth. Our whitening methods work with chemical agents, not abrasives. These whitening (or bleaching) agents actually react with the stains deep inside your teeth to neutralize them. There's no harmful stripping of enamel. Studies confirm that tooth whitening is safe and effective. Whitening gels that contain 10 percent carbamide peroxide (equivalent to 3.6 percent hydrogen peroxide) have not been shown to cause any damage to the enamel of the tooth. Higher concentrations of carbamide and hydrogen peroxide available from the dentist may weaken the enamel, but these formulas also contain compunds which offset this potential side-effect. Today's whitening chemicals have been used for many years on millions of people without any side effects other than temporary tooth sensitivity. It is important that your teeth are free of cavities and that there is no defective dental work which the whitening compunds can get under- this could cause some extreme sensitivity.
Call us today at 408-215-1006 to schedule and appointment and talk to one of our doctors about our Los Gatos teeth whitening procedures.