Teeth whitening is one of the most commonly requested cosmetic dentistry procedures in Savannah, GA. Every day people contact us, asking about teeth whitening. While some people can get the results they’re looking for from teeth whitening, many realize that it gives disappointing results.
Understanding the benefits, limitations, and side effects of teeth whitening and the alternatives can help you see why you might or might not be a good candidate.
Benefits of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening can accomplish one thing: it whitens your tooth enamel. Whether you’re getting professional teeth whitening or using an over-the-counter whitening method, you can reliably expect to get whiter tooth enamel.
However, this benefit has a caveat: not everyone experiences the same amount of whitening. Teeth whitening works best with surface stains from food and tobacco. It works less well on deeper stains linked to antibiotic usage. It doesn’t work on discoloration that comes from defects in the enamel. It also doesn’t help if your enamel lets the darkly pigmented tooth interior show through. This might show because your enamel is thin or because the interior of your teeth is dark brown, yellow, or gray.
Another benefit of teeth whitening is that it is relatively inexpensive upfront. Especially if you are using an over-the-counter teeth whitening solution, you can get started for a low initial cost.
Limitations of Teeth Whitening
It’s important to understand the limitations of teeth whitening to know why it might not work for you.
First, there are the limitations we talked about above. Teeth whitening only works on certain types of stains. It won’t help if you have naturally dark enamel, enamel defects, thin enamel, or especially dark tooth interiors (dentin and pulp). It also doesn’t help if your tooth looks discolored because of metal amalgam fillings. For many people, teeth whitening is disappointing: you use it, and your teeth still look yellow, brown, or gray.
Another limitation is that teeth whitening can’t address factors that make your smile or individual teeth look dim, such as shading. Sometimes your teeth look dim because they’re not getting enough light when you smile. In a crooked smile, individual teeth often look discolored because they are tipped or pushed back. Other times, your entire smile might look dim because your teeth aren’t tall enough to let light in–your lips constantly shade your smile.
Another limitation of teeth whitening is that it’s temporary. The effects of teeth whitening might last six months or less for people who commonly drink staining beverages like coffee, coke, or red wine. You spend a month to six weeks applying whitener to your teeth, then have to turn around and do it again in a few months. Not to mention the cost of constantly whitening your teeth. This might be acceptable for some people who get good results, but it’s a lot of work and expense for a little reward if you’re getting mediocre results.
Finally, there are many cosmetic concerns that whitening just can’t help with. Often people think that they’ll be happy if their smile is whiter, but whitening reveals that their teeth are crooked, chipped, worn, small, or otherwise unattractive in ways that whitening can’t help.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is safe and effective when used properly. However, it’s easy to misuse it, especially when using an over-the-counter whitening solution.
Whitening gel can cause gum irritation–it should not touch your gums. However, it’s hard to position the whitener, so it comes up to your gums without getting it on your gums.
Teeth whitening often causes sensitivity. The degree of sensitivity varies from person to person, and there are ways to reduce sensitivity if you’re working with a cosmetic dentist. Still, for many people, it’s bad enough that they decide against continuing with the treatment.
Finally, it is possible to damage your tooth enamel with whitening gel. Again, teeth whitening is safe and effective if you use it as directed. However, when some people see the limited impact of whitening, they try to get better results by using more whitener than they should. This can lead to permanent enamel damage.
Teeth Whitening Alternatives
If you are unhappy because your teeth look discolored, sometimes whitening is not enough to give you the results you’re looking for.
For teeth that look dim or discolored because they’re crooked, Invisalign can help. These days, we can combine Invisalign with whitening so you can get both straighter and brighter teeth at the same time.
Porcelain veneers, however, may represent the best way to achieve a whiter smile if teeth whitening isn’t working for you. Veneers give your teeth an entirely new surface made of advanced ceramic. This advanced ceramic can be whatever color you want. It can be not only the level of whiteness but the type of whiteness that you want. Instead of the yellow of your natural tooth enamel, for example, you can choose a slightly bluer white.
Veneers can also give your teeth a shinier appearance. Natural teeth might look shiny after polishing, but for many people, exposure to acidic foods and drinks creates a roughened surface that is less reflective. Veneers are resistant to acidic attacks, so they stay shinier.
Veneers can also do more than whiten your teeth. They can lengthen your teeth, straighten them, repair chips, and close gaps between teeth. You can get the smile you really want, not the one you have to settle for with teeth whitening.
Best of all, veneers give longer-lasting results. Properly placed and cared for veneers can last ten to twenty years. That’s the equivalent of up to 40 whitening treatments, making them a better value for your time and money.
The Best Candidates for Teeth Whitening in Savannah, GA
The people who will get the best results from teeth whitening have:
- Healthy tooth enamel
- Thick tooth enamel
- White tooth enamel
- Only superficial stains
- A generally attractive smile
People who don’t meet these criteria can try teeth whitening but might not be happy with the results.
If you are looking for an honest assessment of what cosmetic dentistry procedures will truly give you a smile you’re looking for, the cosmetic dentists at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry can help. Please call (912) 234-8282 to request an appointment at our office in Savannah, GA.