Umhlanga Dental
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• Tooth Whitening
question Who are the best candidates for teeth whitening?
answer If your teeth are discolored by the natural process of aging, the prognosis for a beautiful, youthful smile is excellent. Individuals with yellower teeth will typically have a more dramatic result than those with teeth that are grayer in color. Individuals with a more even toned layer of enamel will have a much more predictable result than those with tetracycline stains or white spot formations. The best candidates are those who are whitening their own natural tooth structure. Those patients with restorations of any type, within or covering their tooth structure (i.e. fillings, crowns, etc.), must realize that those areas will not whiten. They may choose to still undergo a whitening procedure, but with the understanding that they may require a new restoration in order to match the newly whitened shade.

question What is an In-Office whitening system?
answer In-Office whitening (i.e. Opalescence 45% in office system) is a faster alternative for achieving that brighter smile, with a high degree of predictability. This method has been very popular with anyone whose free time is limited or who just wants instant gratification. An appointment will be made to take impressions for custom fitted trays before you see the oral hygienist so that you can bleach one night before coming in for the in house bleach the next day .Many times patients do the In-Office whitening in combination with custom home trays. The home trays, when used beforehand, can be helpful in conditioning the teeth for more dramatic In-Office results. The trays are used to do the in office whitening to make it as comfortable as posable for the patient. They can also be used for a period of time after an In-Office session in order to continue the whitening process, or to help lock in the shade that was achieved. It is recommended to keep your custom trays for periodic touch ups either before a big must use the trays a couple of times per year to maintain the shade you attained. In-Office whitening procedures allow the dentist to whiten their patient's teeth up to 10 shades in about an hour (the average shade change being 8 shades).

question What is a home whitening system?
answer There are one options for home bleaching: nighttime intervals. It will involve wearing a customized, soft tray, which functions as a reservoir for the whitening gel for a period of 8 to 10 days . Patient compliance is usually better at night, although some people may not be able to tolerate going to sleep with these trays in their mouth. From feedback about 8 out of 10 patients find it comfortable .Night use affords the individual maximum benefit from each application because of the longer exposure time and diminished salivary flow. Occasionally people may need to reduce the duration of their treatment as a result of sensitivity or personal preference. The whitening trays are custom made to ensure a perfect fit.Most pasients find these soft, thin trays very comfortable. The trays with gel will be used for 6 to 8 hours at night. It is recommend to do touch ups every 4 to 6 months a night or two.

question Do I need to see my dentist first for a cleaning and exam before scheduling a whitening session?
answer Yes. It is imperative that one's dentist performs a proper examination and diagnosis, in order to identify abscessed teeth, existing cavities, internal or external resorption, and other pathological problems before bleaching. Your dentist can help you to prevent the "corn-on-the-cob" effect (yellow tooth, white tooth, yellow tooth, etc.), by pointing out which of your teeth have restorations that will not whiten. A cleaning may be indicated to remove the plaque, tartar and extrinsic stains so that the whitening solutions can reach the tooth surface. A full series of x-rays and a detailed dental history should also help to determine if someone is more prone to having sensitive teeth.

question Are there other alternatives to improving my smile if my whitening did not bleach all my teeth?
Not everyone is a candidate for whitening. Bleaching is not recommended if you have tooth-colored fillings, crowns, caps or bonding in your front teeth, as it will not change the color of these materials, causing them stand out in your newly whitened smile.

The best long term alternative to achieving that picture-perfect white smile is having porcelain crowns , which can be made to become whatever shade you select. This is a much more costly procedure. Other alternatives include the use of lighter shade tooth-colored bonded resin materials.The results are breathtaking.

question What things should I avoid doing after whitening and for how long?
Avoid anything that can stain a white T-shirt, such as red wine, coffee, tea, cola, tomato sauce, etc. Stay bland in color, and also try to have everything closer to room temperature to avoid sensitivity. Within 24 hours from when you completed your last whitening session, the pores of your teeth close, and that fluoride-rich layer will start to build again protecting the enamel. Once this happens you may have whatever you wish. Remember that stain is cumulative, and the more bland the diet, the longer lasting are the effects before you may require another whitening session.

question Is there such a thing as over-whitening?
answer There are some whitening junkies or bleachaholics who do some form of whitening virtually every day, and don’t give their enamel a chance to rest and remineralize. These individuals can damage their nerves and have needed root canals because they have over-bleached. Remember, everything in moderation. It is a very safe, gratifying procedure when done as directed by your dentist. Once a month for 2 nights will still be fine no damage done. Touch up is normally 2 nights every 4 to 6 months.

question How long does whitening last before I have to do it again?
answer With good oral care the procedure's results may last over two years, and recent studies have shown that most patients experience only a one-shade regression after 6 months. Of course, those patients who smoke, drink dark teas and coffee, indulge in red wine and other readily staining foods and beverages are more likely to relapse sooner and require additional whitening sessions. Custom home-tray whitening usually tends to revert less than In-Office techniques, but it takes longer to achieve desired results.

question How old does one have to be in order to have whitening performed on them?
answer Most dentists will not perform an In-Office whitening session on the teeth of someone younger than fourteen years of age. In fact, many prefer to wait until they are closer to sixteen. If some compromise needs to be reached, the dentist may choose to fabricate custom whitening trays and give out a very low concentration gel.

question Can I still whiten with sensitive teeth? And what can I do to make my teeth more comfortable?
answer Most likely, but some determinations must be made first. You should see your dentist to make sure that this sensitivity isn’t stemming from some other underlying problem that would need to be addressed more urgently (i.e. a large cavity, fractured tooth, etc.). If there is nothing of an urgent nature, and the sensitivity is due to tooth grinding or clenching, gum recession, exposed root surfaces, etc., then precautions must be taken to make you as comfortable as possible while whitening. For example, the dentist could cover over any exposed root surfaces to protect from the whitening gels. Fluoride toothpastes can be prescribed for use before and after treatments. Desensitizing solutions can be applied either in the office or placed in your custom whitening tray at home, instead of the whitening gel. An over-the-counter pain medication can be used to help take the edge off the sensitivity if cleared by your dentist.

question Does everyone get sensitivity when they whiten their teeth? And how long does the sensitivity last once you get it?
answer Some patients may experience sensitivity throughout the treatment; others may not experience any sensitivity at all. Usually any sensitivity one may experience ceases within 24 hours from the termination of treatment. Older teeth have less sensitivity due to the nerves within the tooth becoming less prominent and migrating farther away from the outside surfaces. People with gum recession and root exposure may have more sensitivity due to the bleaching agents coming in contact with those exposed surfaces.

question When I used my home whitening trays my gums got irritated? Is that normal?
answer Your gums should not become irritated from home whitening treatments. If they do it is most likely due to one of the following reasons: (1) You may have placed too much gel inside the tray causing the excess to extrude onto your gums. You should only need a small teardrop of gel within each tooth reservoir of the tray; do not fill the tray. If gum got irritated Do not bleach for 2 days and let gum heal before continuing. If the irritation persists after the above has been ruled out, then seek a consultation with your dentist to evaluate for other causes.

question After I whitened my teeth, I noticed a bunch of white, blotchy spots all over my teeth…what is that? And what should I do to get rid of them?
answer These white spots are due to a decalcification in the enamel. This may happen from a variety of reasons that include the enamel not forming properly during tooth development, and the acid break down of food debris from poor home care. Usually, if someone did not clean their teeth well during orthodontic treatment, the food debris would accumulate around the brackets, and the acids would attack that area more to try and break down the food. As a result, once the brackets were removed, white spots would become evident around the area where the brackets used to be.

question I have white spots on my teeth, will whitening still work?
answer White spots are not removed with bleaching, although they may become less noticeable. If your teeth were dark to begin with, then bleaching may decrease the relative contrast of the white spots on your teeth. If there are any unsightly white spots that remain after whitening, you may choose to trough out those areas and replace them with tooth colored bonding resin filling that blends with the newly lightened shade.This is a painless procedure witout any local anestetic necsacery.

question I saw my dentist for an In-Office teeth whitening, but my teeth didn’t get much lighter. Does this happen to a lot of people? And are there other ways to whiten my teeth?
answer Yes, there are a number of people who are more resistant to the effects of teeth whitening unfortunately it can not be determine before the time. It may happen because their teeth are greyer or perhaps they have tetracycline stained teeth. Whatever the reason, many of these individuals will still whiten quite well utilizing the deep bleaching technique. This technique involves conditioning the teeth on the first visit and slow, time-released exposure during at home wear of the customized whitening trays to create a deep cleansing effect to maximize the penetration of whitening agent into the enamel. After a couple of weeks of home whitening the patient is then given a full In-office whitening session to bring out the desired effect.

question Why do teeth turn yellow?
answer Teeth can turn yellow for a variety of reasons, including:
• Aging (years of cumulative stain and the wear of the outer, white enamel layer of the teeth over time)
• Heavy consumption foods and beverages that are more likely to stain (including: red wine, dark teas, coffee, vegetable juices, hot chocolate, soy sauce, etc.)
• Smoking
• Poor oral hygiene (which creates a thick coat of a yellowing plaque or tartar)
• Heavy grinding (which can wear away the enamel to reveal the yellower layer of tooth structure beneath)
• Natural hard teeth are also very yellow, these teeth have lots of enamel, but will bleach very well.

Please note that the most common cause of this yellowing is due to poor brushing, which builds up this plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar is more likely to hold the stain than the tooth’s enamel. Once the teeth are cleaned, the yellow often disappears. Whitening is only effective for brightening the enamel itself, and will not do anything for teeth that are not properly cleaned.

It is recommended to have a good scale and polish at your dentist before you start whitening your teeth.

question Do toothpastes with color stain your teeth?
answer Toothpastes that have color will not stain your teeth generally. However, if you are in the process of undergoing whitening treatments, it is advised to use white toothpaste instead. Teeth can become more porous as a result of bleaching, and are subject to further whitening or staining. Within 24-48 hours after whitening is complete, the enamel regains that protective, fluoride-rich layer, and is not susceptible to the colors within the toothpaste. Additionally, once the toothpaste begins to foam, there is not much color to saturate the teeth with.

question What is the difference between an over-the-counter whitening kits and pre-formed trays versus a custom tray made in the dental office?
answer The importance of a custom-fitted tray cannot be over-emphasized! It allows for maximum patient comfort, reduces side effects, and maximizes efficiency. Over-the-counter versions may be ill-fitting and clumsy, or just may not cover all the desired tooth surfaces that you would want to whiten. Most of these preparations contains EDTA. This is an acid used in dentistry to soften enamel when we do rootcanal treatment. The EDTA will soften your tooth surface and weaken your teeth. Professional dental whitening products are strictly regulated and will strengthen rather than weaken your teeth.They even contain fluoride to strengthen your teeth while whitening.