When to Whiten? Questions to Ask

February 22, 2022 by christopher pupillo

When can and can’t you whiten your teeth? Perhaps your smile isn’t bright, but you’re not sure if you can or should whiten your teeth. Before you decide to or not to whiten your teeth, take a look at the questions to ask.

Do You Have Tooth Sensitivity?

According to research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, just over 12 percent of dental patients have dentin or inner tooth sensitivity. If you’re one of the many Americans who have sensitive teeth, you may want to think twice before you use a whitening product or schedule a whitening procedure.

While at-home pastes may not pose a serious issue, these lower-strength whiteners aren’t likely to give you the same bright smile an in-office procedure would. But a more concentrated whitener could aggravate your existing dental sensitivity. If an at-home product won’t help you to fully achieve your whitening goals and the in-office version adds to sensitivity, can you remove stains from your teeth?

This question has no one-size-fits-all answer. Some patients with sensitivity won’t experience a significant increase in dental discomfort with an at-home or in-office whitening procedure — while others may. Before you decide to white or not to whiten, talk to your dentist.

The dentist can examine your mouth and help you to understand which products will work best for your individual dental and whitening needs. They can also explain the level of sensitivity you may experience with different products and recommend ways to combat future discomfort.

Do You Have Gum Disease?

Like tooth sensitivity, some types of whiteners may also aggravate gum issues or disease. This makes it essential to discuss whitening with your dentist before you try any product. Gingivitis or periodontal disease can make your gums bleed or swell or can cause pain. If you have these symptoms, schedule an office appointment as soon as possible.

Even though you may not know whether you want to whiten your teeth right now or wait, gum disease is an oral issue you should never ignore. The longer your gums go without treatment, the more likely you will develop a serious infection or lose teeth. If you’re not happy with the brightness of your smile or have stains that brushing won’t remove and have gum disease, you will need to treat the periodontal problem first.

Proper oral hygiene practices such as brushing regularly and flossing can help to control mild gum disease. Periodontitis or disease that has spread deeper into the gums may require a professional deep cleaning below the gumline, gum surgery, or prescription medications.

After the periodontal issue is under control, the dentist can help you to take the next step towards whitening your teeth. Without an active infection, you’ll reduce the risk of added gum discomfort during a whitening procedure.

Do You Have Intrinsic Stains?

Two types of dental stains exist: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are an exterior form of discoloration. Foods and beverages such as blueberries or red wine can cause this type of staining. But intrinsic stains are an inner form of discoloration. This type of discoloration may happen after an injury, infection, or from some types of medications.

Many whitening products, including in-office whiteners, can help to remove surface stains and reverse extrinsic discoloration. The same is not usually true for intrinsic stains. If you have intrinsic staining, talk to your dentist about other options. Porcelain veneers and caps can cover the surface of the teeth and give you a bright, white smile. These options can also help to reduce gaps and correct an uneven look.

Do you want brighter, whiter teeth? Contact Accent Dental for more information.