Here are Frequently Asked Questions About LED Teeth Whitening
What Causes Tooth Stains?
Chromogenic foods: The term “chromogenic foods” simply refers to foods that when consumed over time have the ability to produce a staining effect on teeth. Coffee, tea, cola, and red wine are all well-known chromogenic agents.
Tobacco products: The cumulative effect of the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and even smokeless tobacco can cause tooth staining.
Medications: The use of some medicines can cause tooth discoloration. As an example, the antibiotic tetracycline (as well as its derivative compounds minocycline and doxycycline) is well documented as producing blue-gray tooth staining if it is ingested during those periods when tooth formation is occurring. It has been documented that the use of minocycline can cause tooth discoloration even in adults. Minocycline is sometimes used to treat facial skin conditions.
How does Teeth Whitening Work?
There are two types of tooth stains: “extrinsic,” those stains that are on the surface of the tooth, and “intrinsic,” those stains that are on the inside of the tooth. Both types of staining show through the enamel as discoloration. While whitening toothpaste and chewing gums may be effective for removing extrinsic stains, they are not designed to work inside the tooth to remove the darker, more challenging intrinsic stains.
Most whitening kits use a form of Peroxide to bleach the teeth. The most popular formulations, including those used by most dentists, contain Carbamide Peroxide. Other types of kits, including the Crest Whitestrips, use Hydrogen Peroxide. Both of these Peroxides do the same thing, because they have a chemical relationship!
It works like this: the active ingredient in the solution breaks down, allowing oxygen to enter the enamel and dentin, thereby bleaching the teeth to a lighter color.
If all systems contain the same active ingredient, what’s the difference?
The answer is simply the concentration (strength) of the peroxide solution. Whitening kits can contain anywhere from less than 10% strength all the way up to 22%. Some kits contain a combination of other ingredients which act as buffers to reduce sensitivity. But no matter what kit you choose, it all bubbles down to peroxide. In-office, some dentists initially treat patients with a 12% hydrogen peroxide or 35% carbamide peroxide solution, then send them home with custom trays and syringes of solution ranging anywhere from ¼ to ½ strength of what they were initially treated with.
What’s the difference between Hydrogen Peroxide and Carbamide Peroxide?
The two most common peroxides used in teeth whiteners on the market today are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. While they are very closely related, they are different enough that it is worth spending time to discuss the similarities and the differences.
Hydrogen peroxide is just that, the chemical with the formula of H2O2. It is usually created as a water solution (H2O2 dissolved in water). During use, it breaks down into one or more radicals that are the actual chemical “bits” that chemically whiten the teeth. It is usually the “hydroxyl radical” that does the work, but there can be others.
Carbamide peroxide is hydrogen peroxide dissolved in urea crystals. For “palatability” issues, the name carbamide peroxide is used instead of the more proper name, urea peroxide.
Chemically, carbamide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Since it breaks down into a lower concentration, you have to start out at a higher concentration to get a similar effect. A solution of 10% carbamide peroxide breaks down into approximately 3% hydrogen peroxide (therefore, a 22% carbamide peroxide solution breaks down to about 7.5% hydrogen peroxide).
In general, hydrogen peroxide products are used for short daytime use and carbamide peroxide is used for longer overnight periods.
Are There any Side Effects to Teeth Whitening?
Temporary sensitivity of either the gums or the teeth is the most common characteristic of the whitening process. Carbamide peroxide actually causes dissolution of isolated groups of enamel rod prisms which causes the dentin to become exposed microscopically. This in turn causes sensitivity and typically will continue until the temperature of the tooth warms back to body temperature as the dentin becomes concealed. This usually occurs within an hour or two after the procedure.
How do I prepare for my Teeth Whitening Session?
We recommend that you DO NOT brush your teeth within four hours prior to your appointment. The bristles from your toothbrush can abrase your gums and make them more sensitive to the solution.
What are the After Care Instructions?
Because the pores of your teeth are open you can say that they are a bit like a sponge. For this reason, they can absorb stains very readily. It takes 12 hours for the pores of the teeth to close. During this 12 hour period we recommend that you:
- Have nothing more than water at room temperature the first 30 minutes after the treatment
- Brush only with white toothpaste
- Do not use any type of mouth wash or mouth rinses
- Consume only white, clear, or neutral colored foods; a list with comprehensive options will be provided for your prior to your session upon request
Will the gels you offer be the same as from my family dentist?
Absolutely. Our partner in dentistry actually supplies a great deal of product to dentist offices throughout the nation. However the key to the success of our whitening system is our patent-pending blue light technology which increases the potency of whitening in fraction of the time and cost.
What is the Light used for and is it safe?
When the light is placed into position, it is emits a cold blue light in the wavelength between 400 and 500nm (light that is blue-green in color).No heats emanates from the LED light and can not burn the patient. The light is not ultra-violet but a cold blue light. Patients wear protective goggles to protect their eyes. Our specialized formulas contains a photo-initiator which is activates by the light and enhances the whitening effect. When the light is placed into position properly, it is capable of simultaneously illuminating all of the patient’s teeth (both upper and lower).
Can I Whiten Veneer or Crowns?
The majority of the treatments available for teeth whitening are suitable only for natural teeth. The gels only work natural tooth enamel and not on artificial materials. This is why teeth whitening is possible only when you have natural teeth. However, in some cases it is possible to make a veneer look whiter. Since a veneer only covers the front of a tooth, whitening agents can access the natural tooth structure from behind. By whitening the underlying dentin, the veneer may show more brightness. This is usually only possible at a dentist’s office.
How White Will my Teeth Get?
The degree to which your teeth whiten is difficult to predict. The number of shades brighter will depend on how porous your teeth are naturally and the degree of staining. In most cases, we will be able to whiten your teeth at least two shades lighter than your current shade.
How Often Can I Whiten my Teeth?
Our gel solution is safe enough to undergo treatments once every three months for a gradual brightening program.