If your teeth have become dingy, yellowed, or stained, your self-confidence can really take a hit. That may be the reason, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, that almost 90% of dental patients ask their providers for some form of teeth whitening.
At Riverdale Dental Arts in the Bronx, New York, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and our dental team are proud to offer the Philips Zoom!® Teeth Whitening System for their patients interested in making their smiles dazzle. A lot of people, though, have sensitive teeth. Can you have a teeth whitening session if that’s the case? The answer is just ahead.
Why are my teeth not white?
Your natural teeth come in off-white to white in color, but they can become yellowed or other colors for a couple of reasons. First, you may have extrinsic staining, stains originating outside the tooth structure. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a build-up of bacteria and food debris. As the bacteria consume the sugars in the debris, they form a sticky plaque on your teeth and gums, turning them dull and yellowish.
Second, the hard enamel covering your teeth thins as you age, revealing the yellow dentin layer beneath. This is known as intrinsic staining since it happens within the tooth structure.
If your teeth have turned other colors or sport dark stains, the cause may be due to what you eat, drink, and smoke or which medications you take. Common dark-staining culprits include:
- Coffee and tea
- Blueberries and blackberries
- Tomato sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Dark cola
- Red wine
- Fruit juices
- Energy drinks
- Any tobacco products
- Tetracycline and doxycycline (antibiotics)
In addition, hard candies, gummies, and dark chocolate contain dyes or other compounds that can dull your teeth if you don’t brush and floss properly.
Can you whiten my sensitive teeth?
Teeth whitening is known to cause sensitivity in hard and soft tissues, so can you get whitening done if your teeth are already sensitive?
Yes, you can, both in the office and at home.
Professional teeth whitening (in-office) is probably the best option for those with sensitive teeth. Dr. Kupferman can monitor the process, ensuring your teeth and gums remain safe throughout. He has special gels and desensitizers to help reduce sensitivity during whitening, which you won’t have at home, and he also uses a gel post-whitening to diminish any lingering sensitivity. In addition, in-office whitening is usually the most effective at removing stains and is long-lasting compared to other whitening options.
Over-the-counter tooth whitening options at the pharmacy are probably the most cost-effective way to whiten your teeth. However, many of these irritate sensitive teeth and gums, especially if you don’t use them as directed. They also take considerably longer for you to see an effect.
You’d be better off getting an at-home kit from the dentist. If you choose to go this route, Dr. Kupferman takes impressions of your teeth and sends them to a lab to make the whitening trays. When they return, you also get the bleach approved for at-home use and are ready to go. You generally wear the trays for about an hour a day for two weeks.
If you’re not a good candidate for teeth whitening, such as having many bridges and crowns that can’t be bleached, we have another option for you — dental veneers. These wafer-thin, tooth-colored, porcelain shells are bonded to the front surface of your teeth, especially the front teeth, covering up stains and imperfections while protecting the teeth beneath.
If you’ve got sensitive teeth but want to go whiter, Riverdale Dental Arts can help. To learn more, call our office at 718-548-1148 or book your appointment online with us today.