benefits and risks of teeth whitening

What are the benefits and risks of teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is an elective cosmetic procedure that helps boost the appearance of your natural smile. If you have healthy teeth that you want to take to the next aesthetic level, whitening them is an excellent choice. Especially if you don’t need any other type of dental work — such as fillings, crowns, or gum therapy.


Like any aesthetic dental treatment, teeth whitening has its advantages and disadvantages. Before you settle on whether or not it’s right for you, here are some things to keep in mind:



Stronger Results than OTC Teeth Whitening


Professional grade whitening gels are highly concentrated, allowing them to work more effectively with each application. Although an over-the-counter system could lighten your teeth by a few shades, professional teeth whitening can go above and beyond that. So, if you want a significantly brighter difference, it’s best to use a whitening system delivered by our Suffolk County dentists.


While everyone’s natural tooth color is different, a professional whitening application can get some people’s teeth up to 7 or 8 shades brighter than they were before. We have a special shade guide to measure the color of your teeth, making it easier to visibly assess the before and after difference.



Even Whitening Patterns


One of the biggest disadvantages of commercial whitening kits is that they can leave splotchy, uneven whitening patterns across your teeth. It’s a result of the more generic, “one size” application process since they’re mass-produced. But that’s not the case with a professionally applied whitening treatment.


Working with our Suffolk County dentists will give you even results across your smile since the whitening gel is applied evenly across each tooth. Whether you’re choosing same-day whitening or a take-home system, both will give you great results.


Keep in mind that some areas may bleach out more quickly than others. Especially if the enamel is a little weaker. But by the end of the treatment, your smile should have a consistent brighter color.



Less Time Required


Since professional teeth whitening treatments are stronger than products sold in stores, they work quickly to lift even deeper stains. Compared to a commercial system, a take-home professional kit can achieve the same results within just a few sessions. But since you wear it for about a week or more, your teeth wind up even brighter.


And then there’s the option of having your teeth whitened in a day. In-office bleaching sessions take your smile to the whitest level in about an hour and a half. Same-day whitening is excellent for people with busy schedules or last-minute special events.


A more efficient whitening system means you spend less time applying the product. (And time is money! You don’t have to keep re-purchasing strips at the store.)



Teeth Whitening Results are Easier to Maintain


It’s fairly simple to maintain your professional teeth whitening results. If you have a take-home kit, we recommend applying touch-up applications for a few days after every six-month cleaning. When you’re not using the gel, store it in your refrigerator to help it last longer.


Try to avoid dark liquids such as coffee, tea, and soda. But if you do indulge in them, rinse your mouth out with water right afterward. If you’re more prone to stain than other people, you can touch up more frequently. A few times every 3-4 months is typically more than enough. Then just stop by our Long Island cosmetic office to pick up a refill tube of gel when you need one.


Tooth Sensitivity After Whitening


The most common side effect of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity. For some people, the irritation is non-existent or extremely mild. For others, the sensitivity is severe enough that it’s almost painful to drink a cold beverage or breath in through their mouth.


Thankfully there are steps you can take to minimize tooth sensitivity. First, work with our Long Island dentists to select the best whitening agent and concentration. Using too strong of a gel could be an issue. Second, avoid over-the-counter products that can spill onto your gums. Third, incorporate a sensitivity toothpaste into your oral hygiene routine. Begin using it a couple of weeks before your whitening session and continue using it afterward for several days.


Mismatched Dental Work


Do you have any tooth-colored dental work in your “smile zone”? Perhaps there’s a porcelain crown or a couple of small white fillings? One of the disadvantages of teeth whitening is that bleaching agents will not lighten the color of existing dental work. Whatever shade of white your current restorations are, they will remain that same color once your whitening treatment is complete.


What most people will do is have their teeth whitened just before they plan to update existing dental work. A couple of weeks later, they’ll come back to have their new fillings, crowns, or other restorations matched to the new shade of their smile. That way they can match the lighter hue of their enamel.



If You Have Active Tooth Decay


It’s extremely important to have your teeth evaluated before whitening to make sure there is no active tooth decay. If you do have a cavity, that area of decay will need to be treated before you can whiten your teeth. Otherwise, the whitening agents could cause severe irritation or hypersensitivity in that area. In the instance of severe decay, nerve damage is possible.


Since we know that white fillings don’t lighten in color when you apply a whitening agent, our Suffolk dentists may decide to first treat your cavity with a temporary filling, whiten your teeth, and then change the filling out with a permanent one. That way your final restoration can be accurately matched to the tooth enamel surrounding it.



Teeth Whitening Options in Long Island


Sachem Dental provides custom professional whitening treatments in Long Island. Choose between take-home trays or a same-day (in-office) whitening experience. When you work with an experienced dental team like our Suffolk County providers, you know you’ll get the best results possible — and in a safe and gentle manner. Contact us today to reserve a smile whitening consultation!