Masri Orthodontics

Everything You Wanted To Know About Teeth Whitening

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Tooth whitening – is it safe, does it make the teeth too white, is it permanent? These are some of the questions patients ask their orthodontists with regard to tooth whitening. Clinical restoration of tooth color is permanent, is safe, and teeth are restored to their original white color. Most people want to know the best way to whiten their teeth.

Why Do Teeth Lose Color Over Time?

Over the course of time, teeth lose their color and turn yellow or beige owing to our hygiene habits. Our teeth change color as a result of a lifetime of drinking tea, coffee and strong-colored liquids. Age is also a culprit, as is trauma of some sort, and smoking.  Originally, our teeth are an intense white; this pigment on the surface of our teeth develops a stain and the enamel darkens and discolors the dentin (the layer that lies beneath the enamel) to a sick yellowish color. This, over time, discolors the teeth, causing us much embarrassment in public.

Teeth Whitening by Masri Orthodontics Livonia

The Teeth-whitening Process

All teeth-whitening products contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, one of two tooth bleaches. These break the stains into miniscule parts and make the color look much less concentrated. This gives the effect of whitening.

The clinical tooth-whitening process makes use of the powerful and fast-acting hydrogen peroxide. Depending on the stain, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide used can be anywhere from nine to 40 percent. For at-home professional kits, the slower-acting carbamide peroxide is used, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is a third as powerful as hydrogen peroxide when it comes to tooth-whitening.

Tooth-whitening Options:

There are three tooth-whitening options available today:

Clinical Tooth-whitening: In-office tooth-whitening can offer significant results in a short period of time. Dentists and orthodontists use a carefully-monitored dosage of high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth, after protecting the gums with a paint-on rubber dam. The peroxide is left on the teeth 15 to 20 minutes in the hour-long session. For extremely stubborn stains, the patient is asked to obtain additional bleaching sessions or continue with a professional home kit.

At Home Tooth-whitening Using Professional Kits: Dentists are of the opinion that the longer a lower-concentration peroxide gel remains on the teeth, the better the results. Professionally dispensed tooth-whitening kits produce the best results owing to this reason. Some of these kits encourage people to keep the solution on their teeth overnight for maximum effect. The lower the percentage of peroxide in the solution, the longer it can be safely retained on the teeth. At home kits come with mouth guards that are applied to the teeth after the gel is applied.

Over-the-Counter Tooth-whitening Kits: This is the most convenient and cheapest way to whiten one’s teeth. The purchased whitening kit features a lower-concentration bleaching gel which is applied to one’s teeth through paint-on applicators or one-size-fits-all trays or strips. While it is convenient, the store-bought kit does not whiten the entire smile effectively.

Risks Associated With Whitening Teeth

If the tooth-whitening treatments are done according to the directed procedures, the risks are minimum or none. However, the following risks are associated with bleaching:

Enhanced Tooth Sensitivity: You might feel a bit more sensitive than usual to touch, temperature and pressure. This is a possible side-effect of in-office whitening, where higher-concentration bleach is used. If you’re extremely sensitive, you might experience shooting pains down the middle of your front teeth. If you have cracks in your teeth or faulty restorations that leak into the bleach, you might experience zingers. Sensitivity to whitening does not last more than a day or two; in rare cases, it might last up to a month. Some professionals recommend that you use potassium nitrate-rich toothpaste to contain the sensitivity.

Gum Irritation: More than half the patients who undergo tooth-whitening using peroxide whiteners report some form of gum irritation. This could be due to the bleach concentration or due to prolonged contact with the trays. However, gum irritation lasts for a few days and dissipates after the bleaching is over or when the peroxide concentration is lowered.

Technicolor Teeth: If you have had any dental restorations such as crowns, bonding or veneers, note that the bleach will not affect their color. So, even as your natural teeth change color, your restorations will maintain their default color causing what’s known as the ‘Technicolor Effect’.

Maintaining Your Results

Dentists recommend the following steps to maintain the results and to extend the longevity of newly-whitened teeth:

Perform maintenance whitening after a period of time, either immediately or as directed by the dentist.

Brush and floss teeth without fail after each meal and at bedtime.

Avoid strongly-colored foods and liquids for at least a week after the treatment.

Use a straw to sip dark-colored beverages


The following is a professional orthodontist’s Dr. Masri’s point of view:

Studies indicate that while bleaching is safe and effective, it is best to avoid bleaching your teeth till they reach full maturity, in order to avoid tooth-sensitivity. The tooth pulp is larger in youngsters and there are more open dentin tubules which might move into sensitive teeth during the bleaching process.

When asked about his personal experience with tooth-whitening, Dr. Masri responded, “After a patient’s orthodontic treatment is completed, I have noticed that the patient becomes more aware of his or her smile. So the next logical step is to achieve a brilliant white smile, which is why it is common to see orthodontic patients seeking advice as to the timing of teeth whitening. I always direct them to finish pending orthodontic treatment first, and then avail tooth-whitening treatments from their dentist, and also obtain advice on the best whitening product. Also, it is common for the general dentist to check for and replace leaky filling before any whitening is done. Patients are also made aware of the possible need to change their white fillings or crowns to a brighter white so as to match their newly-whitened teeth.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Masri at 734-261-8860 for free initial consultation or visit for more information.

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