Every smile looks more beautiful and healthy when your teeth are sparkling white. However, common habits such as drinking coffee, tea, soft drinks, red wine, or smoking will often stain or discolor the tooth enamel. Our cosmetic dentists offer two teeth whitening options to brighten any smile with safe, effective bleaching methods: Zoom!® for in-office teeth whitening, and custom take-home bleaching trays.
Contact Encinitas Cosmetic Dentistry today for more information on Zoom!® teeth whitening options.
- Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
- Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Tooth Stains
- Teeth Whitening Options
- Managing Teeth Whitening Sensitivity
- Teeth Whitening Safety
- Teeth Whitening Results
Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Teeth Whitening
Compared to over-the-counter whitening techniques, professional teeth whitening from a cosmetic dentist can offer a faster method of treatment as well as more powerful results. Teeth whitening at Encinitas Cosmetic Dentistry involves a simple, relaxing in-office procedure designed to lighten your enamel by several shades at once. Best of all, the results are noticeable before you leave our office. In contrast, over-the-counter whitening kits, toothpastes, and rinses often only yield a subtle change in your tooth color, which is typically not apparent until after several weeks to months of daily use. In turn, these products may prevent patients from receiving as dramatic a difference as they would like, or from achieving effective results within their desired timeframe.
Popular trends in “natural” whitening or teeth bleaching can similarly produce an understated difference, if any. In fact, many holistic bleaching treatments—such as coconut oil teeth whitening and charcoal teeth whitening—lack the research to support their claims to lighten teeth, according to the American Dental Association. Professional teeth whitening is safe and effective with decades of research to support the results that can be achieved. It is considered the best way for individuals to achieve a gleaming smile almost immediately, with this cosmetic dentistry treatment offering the benefit of a customized whitening regimen tailored to a patient’s unique needs.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Tooth Stains
Tooth staining can be caused by a number of factors and the types of discoloration can be classified under two broad categories: intrinsic stains and extrinsic stains. Understanding what type of discoloration you are experiencing can help determine which treatment option(s) are optimally suited to helping you achieve your smile goals.
Extrinsic Tooth Stains
Extrinsic stains originate on the outer surfaces of the teeth, discoloring the enamel layer. They can be caused by a variety of staining agents, including coffee, tea, soda, red wine, berries, and tobacco. Certain types of tooth decay can also contribute to extrinsic staining. Teeth whitening is often the ideal treatment for addressing extrinsic stains, as it is designed to act on the outer layers of the tooth, eliminating excess pigment for a whiter, brighter smile appearance.
Intrinsic Tooth Stains
Intrinsic tooth staining refers to discoloration of the dentin—the dense tissue that forms the bulk of the tooth structure. In most cases, dentin is naturally yellow, which is camouflaged to varying degrees by the white cast of the outer enamel layer. However, when the dentin becomes darkened, it can show more prominently, giving the teeth a stained appearance. Intrinsic tooth stains can be caused by a number of factors, including injuries to the tooth, certain medical conditions, overexposure to fluoride, genetic factors, and the use of certain medications—such as tetracycline. While it is possible for professional teeth whitening to treat some of the effects of intrinsic staining, alternative or additional treatments may be needed to achieve the desired result in some cases. Fortunately, our cosmetic dentists offer a variety of smile-enhancement solutions, including porcelain veneers, cosmetic bonding, and dental crowns.
What Teeth Whitening Methods are Available?
Zoom!® Teeth Whitening
By receiving a teeth whitening treatment with Zoom!®, patients can brighten their teeth by approximately eight or more shades in as little as 90 minutes. With Zoom!®teeth whitening, patients can sit back and relax as Dr. Santone, Dr. Dietz, and their team oversee the in-office procedure, which is completed in a single visit. After placing a protective barrier on the gum tissue, a whitening gel is applied to the teeth. Dr. Santone or Dr. Dietz then use a specialized bright blue light to activate the gel. This activation of the patented whitening gel formula can significantly whiten teeth, and the concentration of the gel can be customized to help minimize tooth sensitivity. Following the procedure, patients can leave the office with a brighter smile, as well as custom take-home teeth whitening trays to help maintain their beautiful white smiles! We are also happy to send patients their own before-and-after photos, enabling them to make comparisons and show off their Zoom!® teeth whitening results.
Take-Home Teeth Whitening
For patients who prefer complete control and convenience, Dr. Santone and Dr. Dietz offer a take-home method of teeth whitening: custom bleaching trays. These trays provide a convenient and easy way for our patients to brighten their smiles at home or on the way to work. Custom bleaching trays provide a quick, simple, and effective take-home whitening option that is 84% stronger than over-the-counter strips. Utilizing our take-home bleaching system can be a safe, effective way to restore your glistening smile on your own schedule.
How Can I Manage Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening?
One of the many benefits of the Zoom!® whitening system is that your personalized regimen will be tailored to your unique sensitivity levels. We understand that patients experience varying degrees of sensitivity and take every measure to make your experience as pleasant and relaxing as possible. A few tips that can help you decrease tooth sensitivity after your whitening session, or while you are utilizing our at-home kits, include:
- Using products designed for tooth sensitivity, such as Sensodyne® Rapid Relief toothpaste
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Rinsing with fluoride mouthwash
- Temporarily avoiding very hot or very cold food and drink
- Decreasing the amount of bleaching gel in your whitening trays
- Reducing how often you whiten your teeth
Our cosmetic dentists can further advise you on how to decrease tooth sensitivity once you visit our offices. We work diligently to ensure the right amount of bleaching gel is applied based on your needs, allowing us to minimize patient discomfort during and after your treatment.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
When done under the guidance of a qualified dental professional, teeth whitening is considered quite safe. Both in-office Zoom!® teeth whitening and our take-home bleaching trays are customized to suit your unique dental anatomy and whitening needs, protecting your gums and minimizing post-treatment sensitivity. The problem with many over-the-counter whitening products is that they typically use a more generalized formula with a one-size-fits-all application tray. Not only does this mean more subtle—or even non-existent—results, but it can also lead to harmful side effects, such as enamel erosion and gum line irritation. Professionally-administered and/or formulated whitening is ultimately the safest and most effective way to gain the brighter, whiter smile you desire.
How Long Do Teeth Whitening Results Last?
The outcome of Zoom!® teeth whitening treatment depends on how discolored your teeth are at the beginning. The longevity of the results depends on your personal habits. From our experience, your teeth will be whiter than they were before Zoom® even after 2 – 5 years! Each patient will experience a slightly different result depending on their diet and oral hygiene habits. Limiting consumption of staining agents and brushing or rinsing your mouth after consuming coffee, tea, red wine, and blueberries can help ensure your smile remains color-stable for as long as possible. Smoking will cause accelerated discoloration of the enamel, potentially shortening the lifespan of your results. While the effects of the aging process as well as the rate at which your teeth naturally yellow will continue, good oral hygiene and periodic touch-up treatments can help you enjoy your new smile all year long.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Santone or Dr. Dietz and decide which procedure is best for you, please contact our office today.