Category Archives: Teeth Whitening

Pain During Teeth Whitening

I went to see my dentist so I could get my teeth whitened. He knows I have bonding done on one of my teeth. He said I was a good candidate. Everything was going fine until today. I keep feeling this horrible zing on the tooth. It’s painful enough where it makes me jump a bit. It’s on the tooth with the bonding. I’m wondering if the bonding is being weakened by the whitening gel.

Casey

Dear Casey,

Woman covering her mouth with hand.
Can Teeth Whitening Cause Pain?

I’m glad you’re doing this under the supervision of a dentist. Too many people try to skirt the dentist to save money. Then, issues like this turn-up and they’ve got nowhere to turn for help.

The teeth whitening gel will not weaken your bonding. When bonding gets old and needs to be replaced a portion of it may just come off. If your bonding has been there for a while, it’s possible part of the coating has fallen off.

Tooth bonding is usually done on a chipped tooth, which means trauma and exposed parts of the tooth. This is a simple fix. Go see your dentist and let him know what’s going on. He can determine the exact source of the pain and put something there to coat the sensitive area so you can whiten your teeth without pain.

Just be certain not to whiten any further until you see your dentist. You don’t want to nail down what is going on.

Dental Work and Teeth Whitening

Whenever you have dental work, such as dental bonding, porcelain crowns, or even white fillings, the natural tooth will whiten. While the whitening gel will not damage your crowns and such, it won’t whiten it either.

The best course of action is to whiten your teeth, then when you’ve reached the level you want, re-do the bonding or white filling, to match your new color. Of course, this is only useful on work visible when you smile. If it’s on a back tooth, I wouldn’t bother with the expense, unless it will bother you.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

DIY Teeth Whitening

My dentist refused to whiten my teeth until I got my teeth cleaned. It kind of ticked me off so I’ve been looking into DIY Teeth Whitening options. The one which seems to be the most legit is charcoal whitening. Is there anything I need to know about it to make it the most effective?

Dan

Dear Dan,

An image of charcoal

First, let me explain why your dentist was insisting on a cleaning. If you haven’t had a cleaning in a while and your dentist whitened your teeth anyway, the results would end up splotchy. You will end up embarrassed by how your teeth look. But, when you start with professionally cleaned teeth, the results are smooth and amazing. So, don’t get too annoyed at your dentist. He’s just trying to make sure you end up with results you’ll be happy with.

Charcoal and Teeth Whitening

The type of charcoal they’re talking about when it comes to DIY whitening isn’t the kind you’d use in a grill. They’re referring to activated charcoal, which is completely different.

The theory behind activated charcoal is it’s natural, non-toxic, and absorbent. All of that is true. You can ingest it and you’ll be perfectly safe. Unfortunately, it’s not safe for your teeth. Charcoal has quite a high abrasiveness rating. The upside is it will whiten your teeth— temporarily. The downside is because of its abrasiveness it will also scratch the enamel on your teeth, causing it to pick up stains much more readily. That lost enamel doesn’t grow back. You’re stuck with teeth that look duller because their shiny glazing is damaged and pick up stains so often you need to whiten your teeth much more than you’d ever need to under normal, healthy tooth circumstances.

If you truly want beautiful, white teeth you’re better off having professional teeth whitening done. Or, if there are other things you want to change about your smile, you could go all out and get a total smile makeover with porcelain veneers.

Professional Teeth Whitening Options

Most cosmetic dentists offer two types of teeth whitening:

  • In-office Whitening
  • Take-home Whitening

How do you know which option is better for you? It really depends on the level of whitening you want. If you just want to get your teeth as white as they possibly can get, then I’d suggest in-office whitening, such as you’d get with Zoom Whitening. The benefit is you can get it done in just one appointment. The downside is you have no real control over the level. Your teeth will be as white as they can get. It also costs just a little more than take-home whitening.

IF you want to whiten your teeth, but gradually with control over just how white they’ll get, then take-home whitening is for you. It costs a little less, but if you want them very white, it could take several weeks.

Getting a Total Smile Makeover

I mentioned porcelain veneers earlier. This is the top of the line for cosmetic dental procedures. These tiny wafers of porcelain can remake every aspect of your smile. They can change the shape, size, and color of your teeth all in one fell swoop.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Teeth Whitening and Pot Stains

Can you tell me if teeth whitening can get rid of pot stains? If so would someone use the tray teeth whitening or the Zoom? Asking for a friend….

Dan S.

Dear Dan,

an attractive white smile
After Teeth Whitening

Here’s what you can tell your friend…

You can imagine there haven’t been any clinical studies done on this to date. Not only is a brand unwilling to give patients marijuana, they’re not likely to align their brand with it either. Though, my guess would be this will change because more states are legalizing its use.

Even without the studies, I can tell you that teeth whitening can remove marijuana stains because of the nature of THC stains that have been observed in patients. That being said, there are some things you should know first.

Any teeth whitening needs be done on clean teeth. If you haven’t had your teeth recently cleaned, the whitening gel will not distribute evenly which will give you blotchy teeth. Not an attractive look.

As to whether to use take-home whitening or Zoom whitening depends on how quickly you need results. Zoom will completely whiten your teeth in one appointment. Take home does it gradually so the results can be as brilliant but will happen over a period of weeks instead of the same day.

Before You Whiten Your Teeth

Are you certain your friend’s stains are from marijuana? THC stains are usually very easy to remove so if your friend regularly brushes his teeth and gets check-ups there really shouldn’t be that much staining, at least not from that.

It could be that he’s assuming it’s from that but they’re actually stained from things like cigarettes or coffee/tea, etc. Those will need professional whitening as they are harder to remove and get into the pores of the teeth more readily.

Pot Smoking and Oral Health

Something else to be aware of. People who smoke marijuana have a much higher rate of gum disease and decay. Most of that has to do with the effects of THC on the gums. I would also venture to guess that when someone is high, they’re binging on lots of food because of the “munchies”. That’s more likely to be things like carbs, sugary snacks, and sodas than it is to be carrot sticks and other healthy snacks. Plus, it’s highly unlikely brushing and flossing after snacking like that is going to be high on their priority list if they happen at all.

Let your friend know how important it is he brush carefully afterward, and also see a dentist regularly. Otherwise, he will develop gum disease which leads to tooth loss. Then he’s looking at expensive tooth replacement options such as dental implants.

Some recreational users avoid the dentist out of fear of being turned in. That’s really not a legitimate fear. They won’t turn him in, with the possible exception of if he came to the office high and was trying to drive himself home. That would make him a public danger.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Dentist Pressuring Me to Whiten My Teeth

I am getting annoyed at my dentist. I’m planning on getting a dental implant on a front tooth. It’s going to cost me a fortune. Yet, my dentist still isn’t satisfied. He’s nagging me to get my teeth whitened first. That’s even more money. Should I do what he wants? Is there a legitimate reason or is it just a money grab?

Luis F.

Dear Luis,

before teeth whitening
Before Teeth Whitening
After Teeth Whitening
After Teeth Whitening

While I don’t know your dentist or his motives, there is a sound principle behind you getting your teeth whitened ahead of getting your dental implant, especially given the tooth you’re replacing is a visible front tooth.

What your dentist doesn’t seem to have explained to you is the reason. Once the porcelain crown for your dental implant is made, the color cannot be changed. If your teeth are showing some yellowing and you eventually decide to whiten them, you’ll have a beautiful white smile….except for where your implant crown is. That will still match your older yellowed color. That will be both distracting and unattractive.

Doesn’t Teeth Whitening Take Forever?

One argument is that teeth whitening can take weeks to get to the level of whitening the patient wants. When you’re anxious to get started on your implant surgery, that can seem like an unnecessary delay. After all, you could simply replace the crown later when you’re ready to whiten. However, it’s no longer necessary.

With Zoom Whitening, or other brand of in-office whitening, you can completely whiten your teeth in just one appointment. You will want to give it a week before getting your crown though, in order to allow the color to settle a bit. But, with dental implants, that’s not a problem. The implant surgery comes before the crown, so you have plenty of time.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

My Dentist Refuses to Whiten My Child’s Teeth

My daughter is in Kindergarten. She also does a lot of pageants. Last week she fell and now one of her front teeth has turned gray. I took her to the dentist. He said there’s nothing which can be done for the tooth and just to leave it alone. I was mortified and asked him to at least whiten it. He acted like I was nuts and just said no and left the room. First, can it be whitened? I don’t want it to hurt her chances in the pageants in a couple of months. Second, where can I find a dentist to whiten it? Third, if it can’t be, what can I replace it with? I was thinking a dental flipper for the competitions. That’s what some of my peers do when their daughter’s teeth fall out. Do you have an opinion?

Margaret T.

Dear Margaret,

Tulsa Teeth Whitening and Children

I’m afraid your dentist is correct. A graying tooth cannot be whitened. When a tooth has turned gray from trauma, it means it’s either dead or dying. There’s not a realistic way to whiten it. The tooth will fall out, likely soon. It may likely fall out before the start of her competition. I’m not familiar with these pageants, but as they’re of children, I’d assume they’re used to the competitors missing teeth. It’s a normal part of development.

You mentioned replacing it. Her age really makes that a bad idea. A dental flipper is a temporary tooth replacement while you’re waiting for your more permanent replacement to be completed. However, they’re a choking hazard in young ones because they’re removable. The other options are removable partial dentures, a dental bridge, and dental implants.

All of these, while suitable replacements for an adult, aren’t good ideas for children. The removable partial dentures can also fall out, like the flipper. You wouldn’t want it to catch in her throat. The bridge won’t work because her jaw is changing too rapidly. The same is true for the implants, plus that particular option requires surgery.

If for some reason it doesn’t fall out on its own by the time of the competition, you always have the option of extracting the tooth. Honestly, though, I’m not sure that’s worth the potential trauma to your daughter with such a procedure. I wouldn’t even consider doing it without sedation.

It’s important to give children as many positive experiences with a dentist as possible. We want them to be comfortable going to the dentist so they’ll have good oral care without being afraid.

I hope this helps. I know it’s probably not what you wanted to hear. I’m concerned so many of your peers are using small removable oral appliances on young children. It’s really not recommended.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Is It Safe to Get My Teeth Whitened While Pregnant?

I’ve been looking forward to getting my teeth whitened. I have an appointment next week. This morning, I just found out I’m pregnant. Is it still safe for me to get them whitened or do I need to wait until after I have the baby?

Chrissy P.

Dear Chrissy,

Congratulations! It’s so exciting to have a newborn in the house. I don’t know if this is your first child, but it’s the most challenging and rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

As far as teeth whitening and pregnancy goes, the truth is we don’t know. It’s been put on the “not recommended” list. That’s not because we know anything bad will happen. In order for it to be declared safe, it has to go through controlled studies where expectant moms have teeth whitening done while pregnant and then we wait and see if it has any adverse effects on the baby. As you can imagine, there aren’t too many moms queuing up to have their unborn child be the guinea pig.

That doesn’t mean it will cause harm, just that we don’t know. That probably has given you no definitive direction to go, but it’s all the data we currently have. I will say there haven’t been any reports of babies having any negative effects from mothers that have gone ahead with their work.

Most obstetricians will recommend you put off any unnecessary treatments. That’s not the same as if you have decay or a tooth infection. Those need to be dealt with, because leaving an untreated infection has been linked to premature delivery and low birth weight. You also don’t want to risk passing an infection onto your child. There are antibiotics which are safe to use while preganant. Never put off a dental emergency.

Again, congratulations!

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Can My Whitening Trays Function Like Invisalign?

I’m getting my teeth whitened. I’m excited about that. Really excited. I’ve always wanted to straighten my teeth too. I wondered if I told my dentist to make the trays a little smaller than normal if they could straighten my teeth like Invisalign trays. I’m not sure I can afford both procedures. But, I’m finally single and want a chance to feel pretty for me, not anyone else.

Amanda W.

Amanda,

While I highly recommend feeling beautiful for yourself, your teeth whitening trays can’t double as Invisalign aligners. Invisalign aligners are carefully crafted by a computer, which designs each pair of aligners to gently move your teeth into a new position. Whitening trays are designed to fit snug, but they will only fit to the current position of your teeth.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get both procedures done affordably. I’m going to suggest you reverse the procedures. If you get Invisalign, you CAN let those aligners double for teeth whitening trays. Then, instead of paying for the custom tray design and the gel, you only have to get the gel.

You’ll find both procedures will do a remarkable job of helping you feel and look beautiful. Invisalign will obviously straighten your teeth and an orderly smile is attractive. What many don’t realize is how beneficial the simple teeth whitening procedure can be. It strips years off your appearance. Many patients feel they look years younger from that procedure alone.

Invisalign sometimes costs more than the whitening procedure. If that’s a hardship for you, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You could speak to your dentist. Many of them have payment plans which will allow you to get to started on the procedure while paying it out. If they don’t offer payment plans, you can look into Care Credit. It’s a medical credit card that, depending on your credit, allows you to pick your terms.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Did the Whitening Center Ruin My Teeth?

I’m terrified I made a decision that has ruined my teeth. I’ve always wanted teeth whitening. A teeth whitening center opened up in my local mall. I wandered in, curious, but unsure it was legitimate. The lady I spoke with told me she was a certified teeth whitening specialist who’s been professionally trained. I agreed and got the procedure done. I’m regretting it now. My gums feel like they’re on fire and everywhere I have a filling, looks dark and blotchy.  Can this be fixed or are my teeth ruined?

Maura – Kentucky

Maura,

Your teeth aren’t ruined, but this mall shop made a lot of mistakes. First, you should know there is no such thing as an official “certified teeth whitening specialist”. That sounds like a title her company made up. Whatever their training process is, it’s definitely ineffective or incomplete.

If a dentist did your teeth whitening, they would have taken steps to protect your gums during the procedure. The reason they feel on fire is because the center didn’t do that, which exposed your teeth to the whitening chemicals. Some over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, will help. Eventually, the burning will calm down.

The fillings are a completely different matter. Fillings don’t whiten along with your teeth. That’s why they look so splotchy. The center should have warned you about this.  Your fillings will have to be re-done to match the new color of your teeth. Get with your dentist and you can arrange the best schedule for doing this. I’d wait until the pain to your gums has subsided, though.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.

Fill a Cavity or Get Teeth Whitening First?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a checkup, so I went in and had a cleaning. I was a little surprised to find out that I had a couple of cavities on my front teeth. The office said that if I’ve ever wanted to do teeth whitening, now’s the time to do it because the color of the fillings can’t be changed later. I left the office with a treatment plan that included teeth whitening and planned to do that first. I got to looking online and I read that you’re not supposed to have teeth whitening done when you have cavities. Which is it?

-Andrew

Dear Andrew,

This is one of the double-edged swords in dentistry. Your dental office was correct in that the color of your fillings cannot be changed later. The only way to lighten them after the fact will be to remove them and replace them with a lighter color, after you’ve finished teeth whitening.

The active agents in prescription-strength teeth whitening solutions are very potent, and they’re known to cause sensitivity, especially in people who already have sensitive teeth. Because you have cavities, the agent can get that much closer to the nerve, and is even more likely to cause discomfort. There are some sources that will say that the agents can weaken your teeth and make cavities worse, but there’s no evidence to prove this. The biggest concern is sensitivity.

Ultimately, what you should do is have those teeth filled and then have teeth whitening done afterward. You could try to guess what shade it will be or you can have the fillings redone to match later. For most people, neither of these are realistic options. You probably don’t want “hope” for a match later and you probably don’t want the time and expense of redoing the fillings later, so going forward with bleaching them now is the most sensible solution.

Your doctor wouldn’t have mentioned tooth whitening to you if you weren’t a good candidate, and it sounds like your cavities are small, and are unlikely to cause you an issue. If you’d like to try to reduce sensitivity ahead of time, you can start using a fluoride rinse at home. There are a few over the counter brands. You may also want to talk to your dentist about using a special fluoride gel at home. It’s different than toothpaste and is non-prescription, though the pharmacist will usually keep it behind the counter. The office may also be able to do some in-office treatments, like a fluoride varnish, and can take special care to protect the cavity during treatment.

Mention your concerns to them and find out which course of action is best for your situation. Most people don’t have any issue with bleaching, even if they have cavities, but it’s certainly not a good situation if you have severe decay.

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Will My Wife’s Teeth Whitening Addiction Cause Damage?

I’ve jokingly called my wife a teeth whitening addict, but I’m starting to worry that’s she’s getting out of hand with it. Don’t get me wrong, she has a beautiful smile- it’s one of the reasons she caught my eye. But, she really obsesses over it. About two years ago, she had in-office teeth whitening done, where they put her under the lights and everything. Right after it, she started using the take-home kit. When her take-home kit ran out of gel she switched to whitening strips. Now, she buys more gel every six months when she gets a checkup, and uses it right away, and then she uses the strips about once a month between visits. She started talking about going back in for another in-office teeth whitening procedure and I think it’s just nuts. I’m afraid she’s going to destroy her enamel and wind up with serious problems. Are my worries justified?

Andy G. – North Carolina

Andy,

There are scenarios where excessive whitening treatments cause problems. This will manifest in graying or translucent teeth. Sometimes the teeth become more sensitive. Your wife is probably okay  with the amount she’s using teeth whitening products. Some people do touch up every month or so, but these are usually people who do a lot of things that stain their teeth, like drink coffee daily or smoke. Most people only tend to want to boost their color after a year or so. Bear in mind, the gel she gets in the office is stronger than the over-the-counter stuff, so when she isn’t using that, it’s harder for her to achieve the shade she wants.

Your wife is likely okay with her current teeth whitening regimen. I say that because she’s seeing her dentist regularly. He’s examining her teeth and then approving the gel. He wouldn’t do that if she was in danger of over-whitening.

Some people do touch-ups every month or so, but these are usually people who do a lot of things that stain their teeth, like drink coffee daily or smoke. It’s more common to do a touch up once a year. The over-the-counter whitening she’s using isn’t very strong and not likely to do much.

On the other hand, she could be inadvertently sabotaging her own results. Teeth have microscopic holes in them, but they’re normally closed up. As part of the bleaching process those spaces open. It can take a few days to weeks for them to close up again. So, if she’s prone to doing things that stain (coffee, cola, wine, smoking), then the teeth will absorb the stains fairly easily right after treatment.

It will help if she avoids these type of staining materials for a short bit after she whitens.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.