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Healthy Whitening: Frequently Asked Questions

Are Teeth Naturally White?

Teeth are not naturally white. They are a pearly shade that, as we age, no matter how good your oral hygiene, gradually turns more yellow. You see this first when a baby’s snow-white teeth are replaced by permanent teeth that are, by nature, more yellow in color. As we get older, the outer layer of enamel on the teeth wears down and exposes the dentin layer of the teeth, which is more yellow. Over the years, tartar and wear-and-tear stains appear and can darken the color of teeth.

Can My Dentures Yellow Over Time?

Yes, false teeth can absolutely stain and turn colors over time. When not brushed daily, left-behind food debris and bacteria-filled plaque can create stains that look yellowish-gray, green and even black on teeth. (However, dental implants like crowns and veneers cannot be whitened.) Avoid this scenario by maintaining stellar oral hygiene even when your teeth are false, and brush and soak your dentures regularly while also following the proper steps to clean your dentures.

Professional Whitening Vs. Over The Counter?

All whitening procedures, whether performed at home or done professionally in an office, rely on the same chemical reaction to deeply penetrate and break down stains. The main difference is the cost (professional cleanings range from $500 to $1,000 compared to $10 to $40 for DIY whitening methods). And when completed in the office, the dentist can take measures to protect the gums and rest of the mouth while whitening. DIY whitening is immediate, easy to use and widely accessible at drugstores. Professional whitening treatments also tend to take longer,1 hour to 1.5 hours, whereas DIY treatments take, at most, 30 minutes. That said, results of professional whitening in an office last a bit longer (up to 1 year) compared to at-home whitening results (up to 6 months).

Why Are There White Spots On My Teeth?

Often when you notice white spots after a whitening treatment, it is a matter of white spots that were there before the treatment and were just made more noticeable by the treatment. Generally, white spots only last for a short time after the treatment, at most for a few days afterward. Sometimes small white spots can appear because of poor calcium deposits. White spots do not warrant concern and vanish as the treatment progresses.

At What Age Is It Safe To Whiten?

Your child should be at least 12 years old before you start introducing him to products such as mouthwash and whitening products. At this point, he’ll have all of his permanent teeth. Consult your family dentist if you want to try a whitening treatment. OTC whitening strips or rinse or toothpaste may be more viable options to try before pricey professional whitening procedures that insurance does not cover. And because stained teeth can be caused by a diet that needs a nutritional boost, try to pinpoint the cause with your dentist before embarking on a treatment.

Can Baking Soda Whiten My Teeth?

Also known in technical terms as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is an abrasive material that can scrub away stains thereby maintaining the current color of your teeth. Baking soda can be effective for surface stains, but it cannot go as deep as a chemical like peroxide.

Does Whitening Weaken My Teeth?

Whitening has been proven to be safe and effective, and whether you have a professional procedure done at the dentist’s office or you perform DIY whitening treatments at home, most whitening treatments rely on the same bleaching agents. You can get into trouble if you start overdoing it and use too many different whitening products. Stick to a few and always use as directed. Overdoing it on whitening treatments can weaken enamel.

How Much Peroxide Is Safe For My Teeth?

Follow the instructions on the product package. If you get the whitening results you want without experiencing any sensitivity, using a whitening treatment once a month should be sufficient. You may need to repeat a whitening bleach cycle to reach the white you want, but you shouldn’t exceed more than twice a year without consulting your dentist. Also remember that whitening is not appropriate for everyone, if you are pregnant, a nursing mother or have a history of gum disease, consult your dentist before undergoing a whitening treatment.