Polished Tooth

A focus on
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
By Niki Fontaine, RDH


TEETH WHITENING 101 Fact and Myth

For those new to this segment, I’m a registered dental hygienist and owner of The Polished Tooth Dental Hygiene Care with offices in Cornwall and Alexandria, Ontario. Our wonderful team can help you with all aspects of preventative dentistry; new patients are always welcome.

This month’s theme is Ladies First, and the Celebration of Women, I thought I would give you some information on Cosmetic Teeth Whitening.

WHY DO PEOPLE WHITEN THEIR TEETH?

  • According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, virtually all people surveyed believe a smile is a valuable social asset,

  • Three-quarters (74%) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success
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  • 65% of females versus 35% of males seek whitening treatments,

  • When respondents were asked, “What would you most like to improve about your smile?” The most common response was: Whiter & Brighter Teeth


STAIN FORMATION & WHITENING PROCESS:
Extrinsic stain:

  • Located in the tooth pellicle as a result of consumption of certain foods and beverages,

  • Removed with effective self-care measures


Intrinsic stain:

  • Located beneath the enamel surface as a result of chromogenic materials diffusing into the enamel and accumulating at the dentin level
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  • Aging and certain medications are the primary cause
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  • Generally the only way to eliminate this type of stain is by a whitening procedure
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  • Two kinds of whitening methods:
  • Diffusion: Involves principle of oxidation with a whitening agent

  • Disassociation: Occurs by removal of stain molecule by a citric based product


SCIENCE & MECHANISMS OF WHITENING:
Length of time of use: 60 minutes to overnight:
How it Works: A Breakdown of components into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen while wearing the custom trays with the solution.

FACT VS MYTH:

  • Fact: All professional systems that utilize carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide have a degree of efficacy
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  • Myth: The stronger the solution, the better
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  • Myth: The longer the tooth is subjected to the chemical process, the whiter it will become
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  • Fact: Professional administered whitening in a controlled environment is safe
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  • Myth: Tooth whitening linked to increased rate of oral and oropharyngeal cancer 


PRE-WHITENING ASSESSMENT & EVALUATION
Should be completed before whitening with a qualified health professional (Dentist/Hygienist)

POST-WHITENING CLIENT’S SHOULD:

  • Store trays in a safe and dry environment
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  • Refrigerate any remaining whitening product
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  • Avoid stain-causing dietary foods and beverages,
  • Avoid anything that would stain a “white shirt,”

  • Wait a minimum of 2 weeks before commencing composite restorations,

  • Renew whitening as required -usually on an annual basis
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  • While teeth whitening is generally safe, it is recommended that the following whitening candidates speak to a dental professional before undergoing any whitening treatment


CONTRAINDICATIONS TO PROFESSIONAL TEETH WHITENING

  • While teeth whitening is generally safe, it is recommended that the following whitening candidates speak to a dental professional before undergoing any whitening treatment
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  • Pregnant and lactating mothers
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  • Those currently being treated by their physician for a severe illness or disorder (AIDS/immunosuppression)
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  • Light sensitive individuals including those on PUVA (Psoralen + UV radiation) or other photo-chemotherapy, 

  • Those on photoreactive drugs; OTC, Rx or homeopathic
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  • Children under the age of 16 years


While not exhaustive, this highlights some of the essential components of teeth whitening. I can not stress this enough, please check with a professional before any treatment.