Category Archives: Teeth Whitening

Brown Spots on Teeth

I am trying to figure out if getting professional teeth whitening will help the brown spots on my teeth. My dentist doesn’t offer teeth whitening but she’s been helping me with all the over-the-counter brands we can find. None of them have helped. Now she is thinking about grinding down the brown spots until we get to white, but has admitted she isn’t sure how far down she’ll have to grind. Before I do this, which admittedly makes me nervous, I’d like to double-check if the professional whitening would be better.

Callie

Dear Callie,

I am glad you wrote. I do not recommend that you allow this dentist to experiment on you. Her heart may be in the right place, but she does not have the knowledge or skills to deal with this and she can end up doing some serious damage to your teeth.

Teeth whitening does not help the type of tooth stains you are dealing with. There are two possible solutions. The first option is dental bonding. This has to be done freehand. Depending on the severity and the amount of the stains it may not be a cost-effective option.

porcelain veneer being placed

This leads me to your second option, porcelain veneers. These tiny wafers of porcelain can cover the brown spots, but they can also give you a complete smile makeover, changing the shape, size, and color of your teeth all at the same time.

As I mentioned earlier, your dentist is not qualilfied to deal with your situation. Teeth whitening is one of the easiest, least complicated type of cosmetic procedures there are.

The two procedures we are talking about now are much more advanced. You will need to find a different dentist to do this. One way to know if they are a decent cosmetic dentist is to look at their smile gallery and see if the before and after images are beautiful.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Can Dental Bonding be Whitened?

I have dental bonding that is almost 15 years old. It has lasted longer than I expected and I know it is time to replace it, I just don’t have the money at the moment. I know you can’t make dental bonding any whiter with teeth whitening, but will it at least get it back to the color it originally had?

Mazie

Dear Mazie,

Unfortunately, teeth whitening in this case will only make things look worse. It will whiten the natural tooth structure, but the dental bonding itself will remain the same. This will make the difference striking, but not in the good way.

One possiblitilty to make these look better in the meantime is to get them polished by a cosmetic dentist. This will help if the stains are surface stains. However, if the stains are internal to the bonding material, then that will not help either.

In that case, your best bet is to do nothing and save up for the replacement. While there are some cosmetic procedures (such as teeth whtiening) where the cosmetic expertise and artistry of the dentist does not matter, which will allow you to price shop, dental bonding is not one of them.

It will be important when you do get them replaced, it is with someone that has real skill and artistic talent. These have to be done freehand. When it is not done well, it is a disaster.

You may check see if your dentist works with Care Credit. Some do. This is a medical credit card. Fortunately, its payment plans and interest are significantly lower than consumer credit cards. This will allow you to get the bonding replaced and then pay out the fee a ittle at a time.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Premium Home Whitening

I received an offer for Premium Home Whitening. This is almost $100 less than what my dentist charges. Is it effective and safe to use?

Morgan

Dear Morgan,

As far as their teeth whitening ingredient goes, it is a valid one. It will whiten your teeth. However, I am having a bit of trouble endorsing the product whole-heartedly for three reasons.

First, the light they advertise is useless. I believe it is there more for psychological reasons than anything else. I don’t like that they are charging for something that isn’t really legitimate. It speaks to the character of the company. If they are misleading about that, what is to say their other ingredients are what they say they are.

The second issue I have is with the tray. This DIY tray is not going to fit they way the tray the custom-fitted tray will fit. This not only makes the whitening ingredient less effective, but it also puts you at risk of problems with your gums. I recently read a case about a woman who needed a root canal treatment because of an over the counter whitening product.

Finally, the price. It’s a little pricey for what you get. Some dentists come much closer to its price than your dentist. You could get professional service for that or close to it. There are two ways you can accomplish this.

The first is simply to talk to your dentist. Tell him about the offer you received. Let him know that you would rather have your teeth whitened by him if he can come down on the price a little.

If he is unwilling to do that, then after your next cleaning I would call around to some other dentists. Let them know you just had your teeth cleaned and you are looking for someone to whiten them. This is the type of cosmetic procedure you are safe to price shop around for. It doesn’t take any specialized skill the way porcelain veneers do.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Thimmesh and Foreman.

Dentist SAid My Teeth are Too White

I am needing to get a crown on a tooth, but my dentist can’t seem to match it to my other teeth. He said my teeth are “too white”. It is true that my teeth are very white. I did do Zoom Whitening with my last dentist about two months ago. I’ve relocated since then. The dentist that whitened them never told me that I wouldn’t be able to match any dental work to them. Have you encountered this? How do you handle dental work?

Kennedy

Dear Kennedy,

The problem here isn’t with your previous dentist not warning you about matching dental work. It is actually with your current dentist. He sounds like your typical bread and butter general dentist who hasn’t invested much time in learning cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic dentistry is isn’t a recognized speciality, but neither is it taught in dental school. It is up to the dentist to decide how much time and effort they invest in learning the skills.

Teeth whitening is the most basic of all the cosmetic procedures, but many dentists don’t understand how it works. Most people know that teeth whitening will bleach out stains on your teeth that are naturally accumulated over time. However, it will also bleach the natural pigment of your teeth. Here is where that becomes a problem for dentists who don’t understand cosmetic work.

Shade Guides in Dentistry

When a dentist needs to match a tooth, they use a shade gude such as the one you see above. Before teeth whitening became very popular, a dentist could match just about any tooth using this shade guide. Enter teeth whitening…

Dentists began to find that teeth were whiter than anything on their shade guide. The companies that produce these shade guides noticed it too. They came out with an updated shade guide (see picture below).

With this shade guide, they added whiter shades that go beyond the natural tooth pigment. This is the shade guide your dentist needs to use in order to match your whiter teeth.

At this point, you have two choices. The first is to show him this post and hope he is able to add to his knowledge base. The second is to go to a new dentist to have your porcelain crown done, preferably one who understands the type of procedures you are likely to want or need.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Will Crest Whitestrips Damage a Tooth?

I have a damaged incisor that has always been a bit darker than the other teeth. It has started to embarrass me now that I am older. I wanted to whiten it, so my dentist suggested I try Crest Whitestrips. I bought their strongest. After a week, that tooth started to hurt, so I stopped using them. However, the tooth doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It is sensitive to both cold and heat. Do you think it needs a root canal treatment? Is it normal for teeth whitening to do that?

Livvie

Dear Livvie,

Woman covering her mouth with hand. Seeing something shocking surprised and speechless face expression.

In general, using Crest Whitestrips are safe. That is mostly true because they are not very strong. For safety reasons, the over-the-counter brands are weaker than what you would get if you were doing teeth whitening with a dentist. I’ve only heard of one other time someone needed a root canal treatment after using Crest Whitestrips and the situation is eerily similar to yours.

My recommendation would be to have your dentist do a cold test on your teeth. That will help him know if the tooth needs further treatment.

The Right Fix for a Dark Tooth

One further thing here. Crest White strips (or any teeth whitening) was the wrong treatment for this. When your teeth are whitened, they whiten uniformly. That means the dark tooth would still be darker than the other teeth.

A better treatment for this would have been either dental bonding or even a porcelain veneer. Either way, don’t allow your current dentist to do the treatment.

Teeth whitening is one of the easiest cosmetic procedures available. Every dentist should be able to do it properly. It seems, however, that your dentist doesn’t understand even that. Dental bonding and veneers are much more advanced. When you are ready to get this tooth fixed, you will want to seek an expert cosmetic dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Thimmesch and Foreman.

Types of Tooth Stains

The last time I was at my dentists he said my tooth stains were intrinsic and needed professional help. What in the world does that mean?

Katy

Dear Katy,

When it comes to teeth stains, there are generally three types– extrinsic, intrinsic, and endogenous. Each of them will require a different kind of treatment to deal with.

Extrinsic Stains

These are the easiest stains to deal with because they form on the surface of the teeth. Some examples of these would be tobacco stains or the stains that come from Peridex mouthwash. The way to take care of these is simply with brushing and a dental cleaning. Good oral hygiene will keep on top of these in most cases.

Intrinsic Stains

These are more difficult to treat. They are accumulated over years and are absorbed into the teeth by staining food, beverages, and even habits. Some examples of these would be raspberries, curry powder, coffee, tea, and smoking.

They tend to be yellowish or brownish. Often this just happens naturally as we age. Though for some it can happen quicker depending on their diet. Unfortunately, it does take more than just good oral hygiene to take care of these. In this case, the solution would be to have professional teeth whitening done.

Endogenous Stains

These stains are picked up while the teeth are developing. A mild example of this is fluorosis stains, though even these can get pretty bad. We don’t see this often in the United States because our water is carefully balanced.

On the other end of the spectrum are tetracycline stains. These will be dark brown and nearly impossible to remove with teeth whitening. Generally, the solution to these types of stains is to either get dental bonding or porcelain veneers done.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Thimmesch and Foreman.

Bleaching Your Teeth With Clorox

I have some household bleach and wondered if that would work for whitening my teeth.

Danny

Dear Danny,

Tooth Bleaching Trays

While it is very possible it will whiten your teeth, I’m going to steer you a different direction. Bleach is a base. You may be familiar with another base–lye, which is extremely corrosive. Bleach is corrosive to organic tissue in a similar way. In fact, many dentists use it in a root canal treatment to dissolve the dead organic tissue left in the tooth.

I’m afraid if you used the bleach from your home, it will damage the tissue inside your mouth. This will cause you a significant amount of unnecessary problems.

The Safest Way to Whiten Your Teeth

If you truly want to whiten your teeth, there are a few ways to safely go about it.

First, you could use over the counter Crest Whitestrips. These will whiten your teeth, albeit much more slowly than professional whitening, so you will have to use quite a few kits. They also have the limitation of only affecting the front six teeth unless you wear more than one strip on each arch.

Second, you can do at home professional teeth whitening. This method uses bleaching trays like the ones pictured above. These are custom-fitted to your teeth and your dentist provides you with a strong bleaching gel to wear in them.

Finally, if you are in a hurry, you can do in-office Zoom Whitening. This will whiten your teeth in just one appointment.

Any one of those are safer options than using household bleach.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Dr. Thimmesch and Foreman.

Luster Premium Teeth Whitening

I want to get my teeth whitened, but don’t have a ton of money. I saw an advertisement for Luster Premium Teeth Whitening. It’s at least half of what my dentist charges for teeth whitening. Before I get it I want to know if it is safe or not.

Laura

Dear Laura,

teeth whitening trays

Two Problems with Luster Premium

If what you are asking is if it will harm you, then the answer is it is safe as far as that aspect goes. However, I will say it is a waste of your money. I looked at this and see two big problems. I’ll begin with the light. It isn’t nearly strong enough to have any real effect on the teeth whitening process. The only purpose I see in it is for purely psychological reasons. In that case, they would better serve their patients by not having it there and lowering the cost even further.

A second issue is it doesn’t really whiten your teeth the way professional teeth whitening does. The whitening effect it has is actually a pigment in the ingredients (zinc oxide). This makes your teeth look whiter, but the effect fades. My guess is the positive reviews they received were written before the fading took place.

To keep your teeth the whiter shade it provides, you would have to continue to purchase it every time it wore off. Because of that, you’d actually be spending way more money than you would if you just had the bleaching done through your dentist.

Affording Teeth Whitening

Many dentists are willing to work with their patients on affordability. I’d start by talking to your dentist to see if he or she would let you pay it out. If they absolutely won’t work with you, there are some dentists who offer free teeth whitening to new patients. However, they may require you to have your cleaning and check-ups done with them first. If you decide to go that route, I’d wait until it was time to get your check-up and cleaning done anyway so you don’t pay for that twice.

Fast Teeth Whitening

If cost isn’t the factor and you liked the idea of the light that makes it “work” faster, a method like that which will actually work is Zoom Whitening. You can see if your dentist offers that option. If not, there are many who do.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Zoom Whitening & White Spots

When my daughter’s braces were finally removed, she ended up with white spots on her teeth. Her orthodontist said her dentist could help us with that. The dentist recommended Zoom Whitening to even the teeth up, but for some reason, they now look worse than ever instead. Did something go wrong? Where do we go from here?

Amanda

Dear Amanda,

Zoom Whitening Logo

While Zoom Whitening is an amazing and powerful teeth whitening system, your dentist doesn’t understand teeth whitening principles. When your teeth are whitened, they whiten evenly. That means the white spots they had will still be different from the remainder of her teeth. The difference between Zoom and take-home whitening systems is that Zoom is faster, whitening her teeth in just one appointment, rather than over several weeks.

When there are white spots after braces, it is generally a sign of decalcification. It’s difficult to brush efficiently with all those metal wires and brackets on her teeth. That’s one reason we often recommend Invisalign for teens and adults. Because these use aligners, you can simply remove them to brush and floss and then put them back on.

As for the decalcification, you do want to address that before it turns into actual decay. There is a product on the market called Tooth Mousse which is specifically designed to recalcify teeth.

Another option is to have the decalcified spots gently removed and then have composite bonding placed on top to match the remainder of the tooth.

One caveat here. Your current dentist likely isn’t qualified to do the dental bonding. Teeth whitening principles are quite basic and she missed the boat with that. Bonding is more advanced and takes some post-doctoral cosmetic dentistry training.

Best of luck to you and your daughter!

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.

Brightening My Smile After Quarantine

My state is beginning to open up again and that includes our dentists. Now that I get to be in public I want to brighten up my smile. What recommendations do you have?

Melanie

Dear Melanie,

I have two suggestions for you, depending on your budget and what your ultimate goal is in regard to your smile.

Brightening Your Smile With Teeth Whitening

Woman placing teeth whitening trays on her teeth
At-home teeth whitening with custom fit trays.

This is probably the least expensive way to brighten your smile. Just by whitening your teeth, you can take years off your appearance. Most dental offices will offer at-home whitening which allows you to whiten at home at your convenience. This also has the benefit of just going to the level of whiteness you want on your teeth.

Additionally, if you’re in a hurry and just want them to get as white as they can, some offices office an in-office solution with Zoom Whitening. This will allow you to you whiten your teeth in just one appointment.

Getting a Total Smile Makeover

A single porcelain veneer being placed on a tooth
Porcelain Veneers

If you are looking to get that Hollywood type of smile, then the go-to procedure for a full-mouth reconstruction is to have porcelain veneers placed. While any dentist can do teeth whitening, it does take someone with some expertise and post-doctoral training in cosmetic work to make this work well.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.