We’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, and we’ve enjoyed an episode of ‘Friends’ about it – Teeth Whitening! One of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures, the process of teeth whitening has been one of the top reasons people see their dentists regularly for centuries. Even now, in an age where the DIY at-home beauty treatment is making resurgence, people are looking for ways to brighten their smiles with the help of their oral care providers.
History of Teeth Whitening
I was serious when I said people have been whitening for centuries. Scientists have traced the demand for stain-free teeth as far back as civilized Romans during the 700s BC. They, the Egyptians, medieval Europeans, and many other aristocracies across time and the globe searched for ways to make their teeth look cleaner and whiter than those in lower classes. In the 17th century, barbers (yes, people whose main trade was HAIR) even resorted to filing down the enamel on people’s teeth and painting the surface with nitric acid. While many of these techniques may have been successful, they were likely also the cause of irreparable dental damage and oral infections.
During the 19th century, dental care specialists were focusing their energy on the treatment and cure of gum disease and infections – especially those caused by orthopedic and dental equipment. It was around this time that the positive chemical properties of good-ol’ hydrogen peroxide were being discovered. The chemical was excellent for the prevention of infection. Medical care providers all over the world embraced its bacteria-fighting properties and it’s low toxicity. In addition, dentists realized that when the hydrogen peroxide was exposed to a heated lamp during procedure, the teeth of their patients would lighten with very little negative impact on the surrounding tissue of the mouth. Thus, the modern age of tooth whitening had begun.
Of course, with the demand for whiter teeth consistently on the rise, these chemicals have become far more concentrated. The use of such tools as dental dams, cheek re-tractors, and gauze now ensure a healthy and safe procedure. You can bet that MG Dentistry is always up to date with the latest methods, tools, and technologies to make your whitening a smooth and safe experience.
Pop quiz: How does Teeth Whitening actually work?
Your teeth have more going on than meets the eye. The outermost layer of the human tooth is comprised of a substance called enamel. Just below this is a layer called dentin. The dentin layer is made up of living cells, which are constantly secreting the hardening substance that forms enamel through tiny tubules. During a bleaching, the hydrogen peroxide forces these tubules to open and breaks down any sort of dark-colored molecule that may be sitting in these passages. As these dark molecules become smaller and smaller, your smile becomes brighter. The longer you allow the whitening agent to lie on your teeth, the more molecules will be broken down, the whiter your smile will become.
So let’s bring it all back to what’s most important – you and your visit!
Preparing for your Whitening:
-Before you come in for you tooth whitening, it is very important that you have had something to eat (a snack will do just fine) and hydrate well. One whitening can take up to an hour and you are not going to be able to munch on anything for at least an hour afterward.
– Try to have a professional cleaning done aft least 2 month prior to your whitening. This will ensure that the surfaces are free of any tartar and calculus, for the whitening agent to work. If this is not an option due to your schedule, brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush and no toothpaste right before your appointment.
– If you are prone to sensitivity, take a low-dose pain reliever before beginning your whitening, as there can be some tooth tenderness during and after the process.
-Bring some light entertainment! You’ll be in a comfortable laying down position where you can listen to music or do some light reading. At MG Dentistry, we’re more than happy to loan you a pair of Bose headphones and iPod with Spotify, Pandora, Soudcloud, and more Apps to make sure your experience is positive and relaxing.
Here’s the Step-By-Step Process:
Your dental assistant will begin the treatment by answering any questions you may have and assure that you are fully prepared and comfortable. This is an excellent time to bring up any procedures you may have recently had, any veneers or anterior bonding‘s you may want us to pay special attention to.
Using a dental shade guide, the assistant will shade match your existing teeth. They will also take a photo with one of our Digital Doc Intraoral Camera’s. This is be a great tool to compare and contrast your initial shade with your new whiter smile after the procedure.
Next, a cheek re-tractor and cotton will be placed inside of your mouth to define the whitening space. Your whitening will focus on teeth #5-12 and #21-28, the teeth most visible when smiling naturally (think canine to canine). The cotton protects your cheeks from exposure to the whitening agent. In addition to the cotton rolls, your gums are protected with a dental dam, a glue-like substance that can withstand the strength of the whitening agent being used. The dam is set by a curing light, which will dry the dam into place and give your mouth maximum protection.
Now the real whitening begins! The Opalescence Boost whitening agent is applied directly to the surface of your teeth. This is a thick gel which contains high amounts of hydrogen peroxide, the primary ingredient in most whitening systems. At MG Dentistry, we not only care about how white your teeth get, but we focus on minimizing your teeth sensitivity. The Opalescence whitening system used has a 40 percent fluoride agent to restore tooth enamel and minimize sensitivity.
Your dental assistant will set a timer and check in on you regularly, ensuring that your teeth are evenly covered at all times and that you are as comfortable as possible.
Once the big event is over and you are on your way out the door, it’s very important that you follow the instructions that your dentist provides you with. The tubules in your teeth will take some time to close, so be sure to avoid foods that stain such as tomato-based sauces, red wines, green juicing, berries, and dark syrups such as molasses or dark-colored sodas. As a courtesy, MG Dentistry will give you an at home care kit with the essentials you need to keep your teeth bright, white, and sparkling. Click here for more information on our teeth whitening services!
Now that you know the in’s and out’s of teeth whitening, are you ready to make your teeth bright and white? Contact us and schedule your next teeth whitening appointment with us today!
And remember what the song says… “You’re NEVER fully dressed without a smile!”