When you are dissatisfied with the color of your teeth, buying a retail whitening kit can be tempting. However, the color of your teeth can be more complex than simple staining, and may require professional whitening or cosmetic procedures to improve the appearance of your teeth.
Complex Causes Of Staining
Discoloration of your teeth is usually attributed to smoking or drinking beverages that cause staining. However, there are many reasons your teeth may have discoloration. If your teeth have been discolored since childhood, it is unlikely whitening products would be effective. Severe illness or overexposure to fluoride during early childhood can change the color of your permanent teeth while they are forming beneath the gums.
Your dentist will know if whitening products would be effective for your situation. If the staining of your teeth is congenital or caused by a medical condition, your dentist will likely recommend a cosmetic procedure. Veneers may be a good option for you because the procedure requires removal of the outer surface of your teeth. Porcelain or a composite material replaces the surface of your teeth, which will have a whiter appearance than you could achieve by using retail products.
Underlying Gum Disease
Gum disease is not always apparent without a thorough checkup from a dentist. Although gum disease may not directly affect the color of your teeth, using whitening products if you have unhealthy teeth and gums can increase dental problems. If your dentist notices signs of gum disease, you need to have the problem treated before you consider teeth whitening. Underlying gum disease can make you more sensitive to whitening products and exacerbate current damage to your gums.
Previous Dental Work
Whether you have old fillings or extensive cosmetic dental work, such as bonding or veneers, previous dental work can affect the results of teeth whitening. If you use retail whitening kits, you are likely to have uneven results, which can make discoloration more noticeable. The materials used in restorative or cosmetic dental procedures can vary and none are the same as your natural teeth.
Dental materials can absorb whitening products at different rates. In many cases, the materials used in cosmetic or restorative dentistry are not as porous as your natural teeth, and you could damage your natural teeth before you notice any effect on the dental material. If your teeth will whiten at significantly different rates, your dentist is likely to recommend professional whitening services. Your dentist can treat different areas of your mouth with varying amounts of whitening products to leave you with an even color.
One of the major concerns when using retail whitening products is use can damage your enamel. However, you may have underlying enamel erosion before you start using whitening products. If you have problems with loss of enamel, your dentist would need to restore your teeth before deciding the most effective way to improve their appearance.
Minor enamel loss due to cavities would require fillings to prevent the decay from becoming worse, before starting whitening treatments. Extensive enamel loss may require crowns or other restorative dental services. The dentist can remove the parts of your teeth that have worn away, and replace the area with a crown or veneer, simultaneously improving the appearance of your teeth.
If your dentist agrees your teeth and gums are healthy and you should have no problem using retail whitening products, you should continue to visit your dentist to monitor any changes in your dental health. With regular monitoring, your dentist can alert you to changes or signs of damage to your enamel.
Retail whitening products can be a safe and effective way of whitening your teeth, if you do not have underlying dental problems or need other cosmetic dental procedures. Before considering retail products, your dentist can help you make the decision that is best for your dental health.