Category Archives: Teeth Whitening

Can I bleach my non-veneered teeth?

I had four porcelain veneers done several years ago. They look fine, but the teeth next to them have stained a bit and it looks weird having white teeth and not white teeth when I smile. I was thinking of getting Crest Whitestrips but don’t want to hurt the veneers. Would it be safe?

Mia

Dear Mia,

custom-fitted teeth whitening trays

Crest Whitestrips are safe for your teeth and they will whiten them some, but very slowly. They only cover a few teeth so to get the teeth you need whitened, you’ll need to cut them and try to fit them on those teeth.

I wouldn’t use other over-the-counter products. They’re not as safe. Some have citric acid and some have things which will etch the teeth to make the look whiter. Unfortunately, they also cause micro scratches on your teeth which will cause them to pick up stains.

Consider Professional Teeth Whitening

If you want to whiten them faster, you may want to consider professional teeth whitening with a dentist. They can get all the teeth you want without any damage to your porcelain veneers.

Another option would be to add porcelain veneers to the teeth which are exposed when you smile. This way you wouldn’t have to constantly worry about the discrepancy in color.

In fact, originally, your cosmetic dentist should have suggested to cover all your teeth visible when you smile. For most smiles, that would mean 6-8 veneers. Some wide smiles require up to ten.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Can you whiten your teeth too much?

Teeth whitening can give you an amazingly white smile. But what if you’re hooked on it? Is it a harmless or harmful?

What’s Normal for Teeth Whitening?

Photo of teeth whitening trays in a blue case.
Teeth whitening trays

Normally, you can whiten your teeth until they reached the desired shade. It takes a few days for the shade to settle in, so after about two weeks of whitening, you should wait a few days before continuing whitening. But can you continue whiten your teeth continuously for months?

What Happens If You Overuse Teeth Whitening?

Excessive whitening can damage teeth, their roots, and your gums.

  • Teeth – Tooth enamel can wear away. If that happens, you’ll lose your brilliantly white smile and your teeth will look gray or blue instead. Your teeth can also become sensitive to heat or cold foods and beverages.
  • Gums – The gum tissue around your teeth can be burned by the chemicals in the gel or get irritated. Inflamed gum tissue leads to periodontal disease, which can cause damage your gums and teeth. In severe cases, soft-tissue grafting might be required.
  • Roots – As your gums get irritated and recede, your tooth roots will be exposed. If you continue whitening, you’ll also feel sensitivity in your roots.

Take a Break

  • Whitening might not be the right treatment – Did you realize that bleaching your teeth isn’t always the best solution for removing stains or making them whiter? Speak with your dentist before you begin whitening them. If your gums or teeth are not healthy—or if you have cavities developing—those issues should be treated first.
  • Pause between treatment – After you whiten your teeth for two weeks, take a break and let the color settle. If you want to continue whitening, only do it for a week longer. Touch-ups are only needed every few months.
  • Whitening gel – Only use FDA-approved gel. Avoid using cheap gel in packages that don’t reveal the contents.

This post is sponsored by Baton Rouge cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

worried teeth whitening store damaged my teeth

I’d been considering teeth whitening for a while. My dentist is pretty pricey so I had been putting it off and slowly saving. I happened to notice a new teeth whitening shop in my mall when I was window shopping. I popped in and asked some questions.

What they offered sounded great. Their workers were trained and certified teeth whitening specialists and the cost was so much less I’d already saved enough. I asked them why it was cheaper and they said it’s because they’re not running an entire dental practice and focus on one treatment which lowers their cost.

I went the next day. I’m in absolute agony. My gums feel like they’re on fire. My teeth are dark where my fillings are so they look splotchy and my dental crown didn’t whiten at all. My smile looks ridiculous and I’m in pain. Did they damage my teeth?

Karyn

Dear Karyn,

Patient using Zoom Whitening light

It’s likely true they have less overhead, but they should have invested a least a little more in some training for their employees. First, you should know there is no such thing as a “Certified Teeth Whitening Specialist”. My guess is that’s simply an internal term they use for their employee training.

If you had the procedure done in one day in the store than it was likely something like Zoom Whitening, which can be completed in one appointment.

Your gums are in pain because they neglected to protected them from the light which jump starts the whitening agents. A dentist would have placed a special coating on your gums so they’d be unaffected by the light. Without that, you get the equivalent of a severe sunburn on your gums.

To help you alleviate the pain, you can try some over the counter pain meds and salt water rinses. It won’t take it away completely, but it should take the edge off of it.

What Went Wrong

Your teeth aren’t damaged, but you will need some additional work. They should have informed you that teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure. That’s why your teeth look splotchy and the crown is dark.

The only way to get them to match your teeth is to have them replaced. If your crown is visible, which it sounds like it is, make sure your dentist provides you with an all-porcelain crown. They look completely natural and can match your teeth exactly when done by a good cosmetic dentist.

This blog is brought to you New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Lemons for Teeth Whitening

I keep reading that lemons are a great way to naturally whiten your teeth. Is this true? I’d think the citrus acid would actually be bad for your teeth, but I’m not a dentist. So, I guess I’m asking if I can give this a try or is my amateur concern actually correct?

Lora

Dear Lora,

Lemons
Can Lemons Wash Your Teeth?

Your reasoning is spot on. The citric acid in certain fruits is a danger to teeth. In fact, I would even recommend not brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking citrus without first swishing some water around in your mouth. Otherwise, you are grinding the acid right into your enamel.

What citrus fruits do that is useful is kill bacteria, that’s why teeth appear brighter when using them as a “whitener”. The same is true for apple cider vinegar which is also touted as a natural way to bleach teeth. However, it kills bacteria with acetic acid.

The problem with both of those options is their corrosive nature, as you surmised. If you think about it, citrus and vinegars are used in almost all cleansers because how powerful they are at breaking things down.

Safely Whitening Your Teeth

There are two ways you can safely whiten your teeth. The first is the over-the-counter whitening strips, such as Crest Whitening strips. They do work. They’re just limited in their strength and in the number of teeth they reach. You’d have to use many kits, to get to the level of one professional treatment. This leads me to the second option.

Professional teeth whitening is the standard for safely getting your teeth as white as possible.

Teeth Whitening At-Home with Custom Trays

This is done at your convenience with trays your dentist will custom fit to your bite. You’ll inject the whitening gel into the trays and wear them for a minimum amount of time each day until you reach the level of whitening you want. In fact, that’s their biggest benefit, you control how white your teeth get. If you just want to get them as white as possible, in-office whitening is faster.

Teeth Whitening with Zoom

In office whitening allows you to whiten your teeth in just one appointment. It uses a special light system which activates the whitening solution to work faster. By the end of your appointment, your teeth will reach their maximum level of whiteness.

Talk to your dentist. He’ll help you find the right way to get the bright smile you want.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Teeth Whitening Using Lemons and Baking Soda

I’ve been considering whitening my teeth. I got a quote from my dentist. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be, but then my friend told me she whitens her teeth with fresh lemon juice and baking soda. She has pretty teeth so I’m thinking it may actually work. Is there anything I need to be concerned about if I try this?

Lacee

Dear Lacee,

Lemons

I’m glad you wrote before you did this. Your friend may have a beautiful smile, but she won’t for long if she continues with this. Lemons contain citric acid which will eat away at her tooth enamel, leaving her vulnerable to decay. She’ll also start to develop sensitive teeth.

If you think about it, lemons and other citrus fruits are often one of the main ingredients in cleaning solutions. Hopefully, you can warn her and she can see her dentist and forestall as much damage as possible.

It’s great that you want to whiten your teeth, but it’s more important to do it safely. The tooth bleaching gel that a dentist uses is perfectly safe for your teeth. There are two different options for professional teeth whitening.

Professional Teeth Whitening Options

Your first option is to get custom made trays to do at-home teeth whitening. Your dentist will provide you with the trays and the gel you need. You choose when you wear it and for how long, with a minimum of twenty minutes.

Your second option is to have in-office whitening done. This is often done using the Zoom Whitening system. You go in for your appointment and when you come out, your teeth will be as white as possible.

One thing to be aware of is if you have any dental work, such as crowns, bridges, or fillings, they’ll have to be re-done if you want them to match the whitened teeth. Of course, that’s only necessary if they’re visible. If any crowns are on your front teeth, make sure your dentist gives you an all-porcelain crown. These look more natural.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Can You Really Whiten Teeth with Charcoal?

My sister-in-law has been whitening her teeth using charcoal. She swears by it. I haven’t seen a ton of difference in her teeth, but I think there has been some. I have a couple of questions, though. One, does this actually work? Two, if so, is it safe?

Mandy L.

Dear Mandy,

An image of charcoal
Is Charcoal Safe for Teeth Whitening?

There are always fads in things like teeth whitening and wrinkle cream. This particular fad is because of a group of YouTubers. I worry about the impact this is having and how many people will end up ruining their teeth because of it. It’s important to ALWAYS consult your dentist before trying anything on your teeth. You obviously know to do that because you wrote the blog.

The first thing you should know is charcoal whitening is referring to activated charcoal and not the kind you use to grill your favorite burger. So, I wouldn’t run down to home depot to stock up thinking you’ll get a bright, white smile.

Here are some good things about activated charcoal:

  • It’s non-toxic, so ingesting it is perfectly safe. Some people swear by it as a detox agent.
  • It’s absorbent. This is one of the reasons people use it for detox. It also may be why it sometimes works for whitening. Certain stains can be soaked up.

Here is why you DON’T want to use charcoal for your teeth.

Everything has an abrasiveness rating. Charcoal is more abrasive than toothpaste. It’s so abrasive that it can scratch your enamel. That will lead to your teeth picking up more stains, which is counterproductive.

Safe and Effective Options to Whiten Your Teeth

If you want to do something without a dentist, those over-the-counter teeth whitening strips, such as Crest, actually do work. There are some downsides.

1. They’re not as strong as professional teeth whitening, so you have to use quite a few boxes to get the effects you can get with a dentist. With the number of boxes you’d have to purchase to get your teeth really white, you’re likely going to end up spending more money instead of saving money.

2. It only covers a few teeth (I think about six). Most people have a much wider smile than six teeth.

If you want to whiten all of your teeth at the same time with professional strength teeth whitening gel, you can do teeth whitening through your dentist. It’s still possible to do it in the privacy of your own home during a time which is convenient for you. Just tell him you want whitening trays for at-home whitening.

Finally, you can have all your teeth as white as they can possibly get in just one appointment with Zoom Whitening. This is done in-office, but usually only takes about an hour. Most offices use Zoom Whitening for this procedure, but there are other brands as well.

If You Want to do More than Whitening

If there are other things you’d love to change about your smile, porcelain veneers can give you a total smile makeover. With a skilled cosmetic dentist, they can change the shape, size, and color of your teeth all in one swoop.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

Teeth Whitening with a Cavity?

Today I was told I have a cavity. My first cavity. I was shocked. Before I recovered from that golden news nugget, I received a second shock. My dentist said if I want to get my teeth whitened, I should do it now before I fill my cavity. Once the filling is done, the color can’t be changed. I didn’t even realize I needed teeth whitening until he said something. Now, when I look in the mirror I see yellow everywhere! But, I looked it up and while he’s right that the color can’t be changed, I also read that you shouldn’t have your teeth whitened when you have a cavity. So…which is it?

Hannah H. – Montana

Hannah,

You’re in one of those catch-22 situations. There is evidence that your teeth are more sensitive to the whitening procedure with decay. The theory is because some of the enamel is weakened, it allows the whitening gel to get that much closer to the nerves.

There isn’t any evidence to support that teeth whitening worsens the cavity or weakens the enamel. The only real concern to having teeth whitening done while having decay is that of sensitivity. So, if you think you could handle that, there’s no real concern. If, however, the potential for sensitivity terrifies you there is another option, though it will admittedly it costs more.

You could fill the cavity, then get your teeth whitened. Then, re-do the filling to match the new color. That is very inconvenient and incurs unnecessary expenses, so it’s definitely not ideal. But, the inconvenience in time and added expense is yours to choose or reject. You may find the peace of mind to not fear additional sensitivity well worth any additional time or funds.

There’s not a right or wrong choice. No one will judge you as being weak if you choose to do the filling twice. And no one will think you foolish and cheap for doing the whitening first. It’s truly a matter of whatever your preference is.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

Can I Substitute My Teeth Whitening Trays for My Retainer?

I lost my retainer. It’s almost Christmas time, so of course I have no money left whatsoever. I have my old teeth whitening trays. Can I use those as my retainer until after Christmas?

Ben – Kansas

Ben,

Unfortunately, your teeth whitening trays are not a good substitute for your retainer. The whitening trays are soft and flexible, specifically designed not just to cover your teeth, but to be comfortable as well.

Your retainer, on the other hand, is made of solid, stiff material designed to keep your teeth locked into place. Your teeth will start shifting without it.  Depending on how long you’ve been wearing your retainer, they may not shift far. But, they will shift.

If I were in your place, I’d call your dentist and let him know what happened. They can likely work with you on payment for a new retainer.

Hopefully you’ll find it soon. If not, call your dentist.

I hope you have a great Christmas.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

My wife may be addicted to teeth whitening. Is it ruining her enamel?

I’ve jokingly call my wife a teeth whitening addict, but I’m starting to worry that’s she’s getting out of hand with it. Don’t get me wrong, she has a beautiful smile — it’s one of the reasons she caught my eye. But, she really obsesses over it. About two years ago, she had in-office teeth whitening done, where they put her under the lights and everything. Right after it, she started using the take-home kit. When her take-home kit ran out of gel, she switched to whitening strips. Now, she buys more gel every six months when she gets a checkup, and uses it right away, and then she uses the strips about once a month between visits. She started talking about going back in for another in-office teeth whitening procedure and I think it’s just nuts. I’m afraid she’s going to destroy her enamel and wind up with serious problems. Are my worries justified? — William

William,
Your wife is probably ok  with the amount she’s using teeth whitening products. Some people do touch up every month or so, but these are usually people who do a lot of things that stain their teeth, like drink coffee daily or smoke. Most people only tend to want to boost their color after a year or so. Bear in mind, the gel she gets in the office is stronger than the over-the-counter stuff, so when she isn’t using that, it’s harder for her to achieve the shade she wants.

Excessive treatments can cause problems, like translucent teeth or sensitivity. If she isn’t experiencing these issues and her dentist thinks her teeth are healthy enough for another round of in-office treatment, she should be good to go.

On the other hand, she could be inadvertently sabotaging her own results. Teeth have microscopic holes in them, but they’re normally closed up. As part of the bleaching process those spaces open. It can take a few days to weeks for them to close entirely up again. So, if she’s prone to doing things that stain (drink coffee, cola or wine or smoke), then the teeth will absorb the stains fairly easily right after treatment. If she can avoid these things, she’ll probably stay happier for longer. Regular brushing right after or even rinsing her mouth, can help slow down the staining process. Over time, her teeth will regain the stains, but her habits play a big role in how quickly this occurs.

The bottom line is that if she isn’t experiencing issues and her dentist has given her the green light, her current schedule is fine.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

My preschooler has a gray tooth… will teeth whitening help?

My daughter injured one of her teeth a while back and it turned gray. The dentist advised me to just let it be. He said it would fall out soon enough and that if there weren’t any symptoms, she should be ok. I was worried about how things would go when she started school in the fall and I asked my dentist if teeth whitening was an option. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my daughter has been home with me this whole time. I’m afraid that if she’s around other kids, they’ll pick on her. That would be a devastating way for her to begin her school years. The dentist looked at me like I was nuts when I suggested fixing it and told me to let it be. Is teeth whitening and option, and if so, how do I go about finding a dentist who will do it?  — Sheila

Dear Sheila,
Teeth whitening, in a general sense, probably won’t work in this situation. The stains you’re talking about are working their way out from the inside, whereas traditional teeth whitening works on stains near the outside of a tooth. It’s ideal to handle stains caused by coffee and other external forces. In cases like this, doctors may perform an internal teeth whitening procedure, but it’s a complex procedure and requires that the patient be highly cooperative.

While it may be true that kids can be difficult, they don’t tend to notice small things like the shade of a tooth at this age. If she was a teenager or a late adolescent, that might be different. It’s highly unlikely that she or any of her peers will have a problem with the discoloration, as long as it isn’t pointed out. Most kids start to lose their front teeth in kindergarten or first grade. You didn’t mention which tooth it is, but those tend to be the ones most susceptible to trauma. So, there’s a good chance she’ll lose the tooth within a year or so anyway and her peers will be so busy focusing on the excitement of who lost a tooth first, the color won’t even be on the radar.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.