Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening: Facts your dentist wants you to know

If you’re considering teeth whitening, you’re far from alone. More Americans than ever are opting for teeth bleaching to enhance their appearance. Bleaching procedures at dental officers increased by about 29 percent in 2015, according to an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry survey.

The process in the dentist’s office, using high-concentration peroxide, yields better results — often many shades lighter — than with take-home kits and over-the-counter products.

But before heading for a consultation with your dentist about the procedure, you might want to weigh the pros and cons of the procedure, says Dr. Norman S. Steward Jr., of Steward, Gaull & Blitzer DDS in Milford.

PROS

You’ll Have a Brighter Smile!

“A brighter smile can make someone’s day, week or year,” Dr. Steward says.

But the degree of whiteness is patient-dependent.

“Some folks’ teeth will whiten more than others,” he says. “But I haven’t seen a case where they haven’t whitened at all.”

Generally, your teeth will be about three shades brighter, but whether your teeth start off more yellow or more gray will have an impact. Yellow teeth tend to respond better to the whitening process, Dr. Steward says.

The Brightness Generally Lasts About a Year

It helps if you avoid staining drinks such as coffee, tea, red wine and soda. “Those can darken the teeth more quickly over time,” he says.

The Process is Quick

It takes about an hour.

At Steward’s practice, a trained assistant provides the service, with the dentist inspecting placement of the whitening material and checking before and after photos.

Advancements in Technology has Reduced Cases of Sensitivity

Steward’s practice uses a system called Zoom that in recent years has been updated to reduce tooth sensitivity experienced by some patients after the whitening.

“The old method used a light system that created a lot of heat, which caused a significant amount of tooth sensitivity after whitening,” Dr. Steward says. “The new method involves an LED light source, so there’s really no heat generated, and therefore heat sensitivity is reduced.”

“Since we’ve been using the new LED system, I’ve had no complaints of sensitivity after whitening.”

CONS

Fillings in the Front Teeth Might Hinder the Effect

“If you have filling in your front teeth, they are not going to whiten and there’ll be uneven whiteness. Often at the end, you’ll end up with the natural enamel being lightened but the fillings will appear darker,” he says. “When we do our initial examinations for these bleaching sessions, we let folks know if we feel some of the filings need to be replaced. And that’s worked into the treatment plan so that they’re aware of what the fee will be.”

Tooth Sensitivity Might Still be a Thing

Some people are more prone to dental sensitivity even with updated systems and could still experience rare cases of sensitivity to cold that can last up to three days, Dr. Steward says.

“Part of the kit you take home with you not only includes the touch-up whitener, but it includes a desensitizing agent,” he says, ‘We recommend patients use the desensitizing agent regardless of whether they have sensitivity or not — just to prevent it.”

Steward’s all-ages practice — where Drs. Robert Blitzer and Candace Gaull practice alongside him — is known for a conservative approach to dentistry and delivering long-lasting cosmetic results.

Their team at 214 S. Walnut provides a comprehensive set of dental services customized to meet patient needs and goals. Call 302-422-9791 or visit DrStewardDDS.net for more information.

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