Who Makes a Good Candidate for Teeth Whitening?

When it comes to improving the appearance of a smile, multiple cosmetic options may be employed. Dental bonding or porcelain veneers, for instance, are commonly used to hide a variety of aesthetic flaws. However, if you are simply looking to achieve a brighter and cleaner smile, teeth whitening at our Seattle office is a simple yet effective technique.

Professional teeth whitening offers long-lasting benefits with few drawbacks and virtually no risk to patients’ health. Still, not everyone is equally well suited for treatment. See the below guidelines for candidacy to find out if you may benefit from this popular cosmetic procedure.

What Can Teeth Whitening Fix?

Teeth whitening is used to remove or reduce tooth discoloration, creating an overall brighter smile. As long as stains are located on or within the outer layer of enamel, whitening gel should be able to diminish their appearance. This means that patients should be aware of the type of discoloration present prior to undergoing treatment, so that they may form accurate expectations regarding their results. Specifically, patients should understand whether their stains are predominantly extrinsic or intrinsic:

Extrinsic stains: Also known as surface stains, this type of discoloration is located near the surfaces of teeth. Extrinsic stains are the most common form of discoloration and can be substantially improved through a professional whitening procedure. These stains are typically caused by food, drink, and tobacco use, and usually appear as widespread darkening or yellowing of teeth, particularly near the gum line.
Intrinsic stains: Also known as deep stains, this type of discoloration is located beneath enamel, within the inner dentin tissue. Due to its location, intrinsic discoloration cannot normally benefit from teeth whitening and must therefore be covered through a restoration such as porcelain veneers. The size and color of a deep stain depends on its source, which can usually be traced to a single event or cause. Medicine, injury, disease, and overexposure to fluoride are a few common sources for such discoloration.

Who Is A Good Candidate?

If your tooth discoloration is composed mainly of surface stains, you will likely benefit from a whitening procedure. In order to more definitively determine the type of stains present, visit your dentist for a consultation and exam. You can also learn exactly what the procedure entails and what sort of results you can specifically expect for your smile.

Since whitening gel is only applied to and absorbed by enamel and requires no alteration of tooth tissue, patients can undergo treatment with very little risk. Any side effects can be expected to fade within a few days, and as long as patients do not undergo multiple successive treatments, whitening does not leave any permanently harmful effects on teeth.

Still, the best candidates are those with healthy teeth and suitably thick enamel. If a patient suffers from thin or eroded enamel, he or she may experience greater discomfort following treatment. Moreover, the use of whitening gel on eroded teeth may further weaken the enamel, exposing the sensitive and darker dentin tissue beneath. Speak with your dentist to learn whether your smile can safely be treated through professional whitening.

Minimizing The Risks Of Treatment

Even though teeth whitening has few inherent risks, patients should understand when whitening may not be a good option. Take note of the following circumstances, which may leave patients unsatisfied with the whitening process:

With restorations: Dental restorations such as fillingscrowns, and veneers are not improved through whitening. If your natural teeth undergo a substantial improvement in color while visible restorations remain the same, you may end up with a multi-colored smile.
Multiple whitening sessions: With each successive treatment, patients may find their enamel gradually getting worn away. To protect your teeth, heed your dentist’s recommendation on how often you may undergo whitening treatment.
Sensitive teeth: Patients who already suffer from sensitive teeth will likely have increased sensitivity and discomfort in the following days. Ask your dentist about how you can reduce sensitivity through one or more alternative treatment options.

Learn More About Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening can be incredibly rewarding for the right candidates. Visit our office to learn more about this or any other of our cosmetic dentistry services. Contact us to inquire further or to schedule your next appointment.

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