Teeth Whitening

Believe it or not, over 1 billion dollars a year is spent on over-the-counter dental improvement products.  Unfortunately, most of these products do not work. Even on the most modest stains.

There is only one safe and effective solution that predictably removes stain (discoloration) from your teeth - hydrogen peroxide.  While many OTC products have hydrogen peroxide, the concentration is too weak to remove a noticeable amount of stain.  The peroxide works by oxidizing tiny particles that become stuck in the outer surface of your enamel.  These particles come from many sources and become visible over many years of being washed over the surface of your teeth.  Some common sources are dark drinks such as soda, tea, coffee, juices and wine.  A couple of ways to slow down the staining of your teeth from such sources is to brush your teeth regularly and rinse your mouth with water immediately after consumption.

There are several types of stains, but they can be divided into 2 categories: intrinsic (from the inside of the tooth) and extrinsic (on the surface of the tooth).

    •    Intrinsic stains can be caused from medicines, chemotherapy, minerals, heavy antibiotic use or other chemicals that can pass through the blood.  Some commonly known reasons for stains is the use of tetracycline antibiotic at an early age (0-8 years old) and excessive fluoride ingestion at an early age.  Age-related darkening of teeth can be categorized as intrinsic staining as well.  Tetracycline stains develop on teeth when portions of this drug's molecules are incorporated into the structure of the growing tooth.  The result is grey or brown teeth that do not respond to whitening. These teeth are usually very healthy and strong. Fluorosis in adult teeth is caused by by excessive amounts of the fluoride ion - again, incorporated into the structure of the developing teeth.  People who live in areas of the country where there are high fluoride levels in the drinking water can often have this condition (West Texas and the Panhandle).  Also, overuse of fluoride supplements may cause flourosis - ask your dentist if supplements are necessary for young patients.  Using fluoride to build teeth is a great idea- the tooth is stronger and more cavity resistant.  However, too much of a good thing applies here! Teeth become ‘mottled’ in appearance, patchy white and brown.  It has been observed that extreme quanities fluoride can make teeth brittle.  Whitening has a varied success rate on these teeth depending on the severity of the discoloration.
    •    Extrinsic stains can usually be removed to some degree with peroxide whitening.  The amount of time needed and the shade achieved cannot be predicted.  It must be noted that teeth have a maximum whiteness and that value is different for each person.  If you want teeth whiter than they can be ‘bleached’ then you must have them covered with a white porcelain or "veneers". The same is true for those darker intrinsic stains.

How We Do It ...

At our League City location, we offer a two hour in-office teeth whitening using the Zoom! White Speed Power Pack.  We also offer the take-home-tray method in both the Texas City and League City location.  

For the take home trays, impressions are taken of your top and bottom teeth.  Customized clear trays are made to fit over your teeth.  A high concentration gel of buffered hydrogen peroxide is placed on the inside of the trays and the trays are placed on your teeth.  The trays are worn for 2-6 hours a day for 4-14 days.  The time depends on many factors including the concentration of gel, amount of staining and teeth sensitivity.

Many people call our office and ask what the percentage is of our bleaching gel.  Although this is an educated question, much more is involved in the strength and action of the gel:  in particular, the type of gel, concentration of active ingredients, and duration of treatment.  For example, a 7.5% gel of one type of peroxide may be equal to 20% of another, but depending on how it is used, the lesser concentration may be more effective for you.