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Common Questions About Teeth Whitening

April 20th, 2009

How Long Does Whitening Last?

Worried about turning back into a pumpkin after your transformation? Whitening toothpastes, to the small degree that they are effective, lose their effect when you stop brushing with them. OTC products can produce results that last several months, while in-office procedures can whiten your teeth for years. Results vary quite a bit, depending on factors such as your current tooth color, whether you smoke, if you regularly drink staining beverages like coffee, and how well you take care of your teeth.

What About Side Effects?

The only potential side effect of the whitening process is sensitivity of the gums and tissues. In-office procedures (during which we coat your gums) and custom-fitted mouth trays for at-home systems can help avoid this possibility. In most cases, sensitivity is temporary and disappears soon after treatment is complete. If you already have sensitive teeth or gums, talk to us at Southcenter Dental before you consider any type of whitening treatment; this may not be the best course of action for you.

Important Considerations

When deciding how to improve the appearance of your teeth, it's important to note the circumstances in which whitening may not be appropriate:

--If your teeth or gums are not in ideal health, whitening should wait. If, for instance, a cavity is forming, or your gums have begun to recede, whitening could be a painful experience for you. Once we have resolved any problems, then you can proceed with whitening.

--If your front teeth (those visible when you smile) have crowns or fillings, whitening may not be the best solution for you, because the restoration materials will not change color with your teeth, and will stand out against the lighter shade. In this case, you may be a candidate for veneers or bonding. Alternatively, you may want to have your restorations replaced in a lighter shade before you whiten – in which case it's important to keep your teeth white, lest you lose the match.

--If your teeth are severely stained, or if the staining is medication-related or congenital (present since birth), whitening will likely not do the trick. Veneers or bonding may be the best choice for you.

Before you make any decision about whitening, your teeth and gums should be in optimal health. At Southcenter Dental, we make sure you're in prime condition before you proceed with any type of treatment, be it over-the-counter or in-office. Give us a call to set up an appointment today.

What Options Do You Have For Teeth Whitening? Dr. Baruffi Explains

April 14th, 2009

With so many teeth whitening products on the market, how do you know which one best meets your needs? We asked Dr. Baruffi and Southcenter Dental to explain the available options.

Toothpaste: While all toothpastes include mild abrasives that work on surface stains, "whitening" toothpastes contain additional chemical or polishing agents to address surface stains more powerfully. While this may do the trick for very mild discoloration, toothpaste is not capable of changing the actual color of your teeth. (Remember: when choosing toothpaste, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.)

At-home Whitening (over-the-counter): Increased interest in tooth whitening has led to a surge in over-the-counter (OTC) products. The active ingredient in most whitening systems is either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide (the same chemical used to bleach hair). These bleaching agents chemically break apart the stains on your enamel. Most products recommend a two-week process that involves either overnight or twice-daily application.

When considering an OTC product, give us a call, and we can help guide your decision, based on your specific needs. Also, keep your eyes open for that ADA Seal while you're shopping.

At-home Whitening (doctor-dispensed): We offer at-home whitening kits as well, and these work in a similar way to OTC products. One advantage of our system is that we can provide you with custom-fitted mouth trays created specifically for your teeth. This cuts down on your chance of experiencing gum or tissue sensitivity from exposure to the whitening product. Also, we can recommend the best system for you and supervise your at-home experience, making adjustments if necessary.

In-office Whitening: The quickest, most effective way to achieve whiter teeth is though an in-office whitening system – sometimes called "power-bleaching." As dental professionals, we can utilize higher percentages of peroxide that at-home systems allow. Thus, you can expect a more dramatic whitening effect in a much shorter time period.

The procedure is simple: first, we thoroughly clean your teeth. Next, we cover your gums to avoid sensitivity. Finally, we carefully apply a whitening gel to your teeth and then cure it with a special light. We repeat this process while you relax and listen to music.

Most patients find that this easy in-office whitening provides the sparkling smile they've been missing. However, if your teeth are especially discolored, we may set up a second appointment for you at Southcenter Dental.

Brighter Whites: Choosing the Best Way to Whiten Your Teeth

April 6th, 2009

We get so many questions at Southcenter Dental about various teeth whitening procedures that we thought we'd take a couple weeks and explain the differences and answer some common questions.

I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown tie.
– Rodney Dangerfield

That's certainly one way to deal with the unpleasant realization that your teeth are yellowing. But there are much better ways to solve the problem – and at Southcenter Dental, we'd hate to doom you to a lifetime of dressing in brown!

If you're concerned about the color of your teeth, you are not alone: Americans spend between one and two billion dollars annually on whitening products and services. Many people find tooth whitening to be a simple, painless way of improving their appearance and self-confidence.

Why Your Smile Loses Vibrancy

Reasons for the dismaying loss of tooth luster are myriad. Coffee, tea, red wine, cola, and certain fruits can discolor your teeth. Smoking, in addition to creating serious health problems, can cause your teeth to stain. Some medications can stain your teeth. Life itself wears away the whiteness of your teeth: as you age, the enamel on your teeth simply wears down, allowing the darker tissue at the center of your teeth to show through.

Your First Step Toward a Brilliant Smile

There are a few ways you can go about creating a brighter, whiter smile. Give us a call at Southcenter Dental to talk about which method is best for you.

Want to Enhance Your Smile? -- Southcenter Dental

March 30th, 2009

Want to enhance your smile? Dr. Baruffi can help.

For patients who desire a dramatic new look or even a subtle change, Dr. Baruffi is able to combine many options as part of a smile enhancement plan. Depending on the desired results, Dr. Baruffi may use just a few or a variety of techniques to enhance your smile. Your smile enhancement may include porcelain veneers, dental implants, white fillings, porcelain crowns, dental bridges, and teeth whitening.

If you have any questions about ways to enhance your smile, please feel free to call us at 206.973.8211. We will gladly answer any question or concern you may have.

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