Why Your Teeth Won’t Whiten

Most of us would love to enjoy more dazzling smiles. In fact, in a 2012 study conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “when respondents were asked, ‘What would you most like to improve about your smile?’ The most common response was whiter and brighter teeth.” Millions of Americans whiten their teeth to achieve a lighter look, but this doesn’t appear to work for everyone. For example, have you ever tried a whitening product only to notice minimal or no results? This can be quite disheartening. Fortunately, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are here to help. In the following blog, we explain some common reasons why your teeth won’t whiten, and what you can do to finally enjoy the pearly whites you’ve been after.

An Intrinsic Issue

Whitening your teeth could be challenging due to the type of staining you suffer from. Basically, there are two ways your teeth can become discolored:

  1. Extrinsically, from the outside in. This more common form of yellowing occurs when substances like coffee, wine, and smoke leave behind particles that get lodged in your enamel, staining your teeth.

  2. Intrinsically, from the inside out. This occurs when the inner portion of the tooth becomes damaged, perhaps due to overuse of fluoride, injury, or certain medications.

As you might suspect, extrinsic stains are typically much easier to erase than intrinsic damage. Some whitening treatments can break apart the dark particles in the enamel, but can’t reach the deeper portions of the tooth to handle intrinsic staining.

If you’ve been attempting to remedy intrinsic stains with more superficial whitening approaches, you may get the sense that your teeth simply won’t whiten. However, this isn’t true. Advanced methods such as our KöR Deep Bleaching teeth whitening can minimize discoloration from intrinsic stains.

Restoration Considerations for Teeth Whitening

Your teeth may also refuse to whiten if you have restorations, such as tooth colored fillingsdental crowns, and porcelain veneers. First of all, whitening is typically not effective on the substances used in these restorations. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, “tooth-colored fillings and resin composite materials used in dental restorations (crowns, veneers, bonding, bridges) do not whiten.” For this reason, attempting to whiten your smile when you have restorations could actually worsen your appearance. According to the organization, “using a whitening agent on teeth that do and do not contain restorations will result in uneven whitening – in this case, making the teeth without restorations appear lighter than those with restorations.” This “checkered” appearance is likely not the look you’d want to achieve from a whitening treatment.

In addition, recent research indicates that improper whitening may also cause dental restorations to break down. As a piece in the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice points out, even beyond “unacceptable color change of dental restorations…teeth with restorations have a significantly greater chance of becoming sensitive and result in a greater degree of pain when exposed to whitening regimens.” This may be due to “degradation of dental restorations” such as “surface softening” during teeth whitening.

For these reasons, Dr. Flanagan and our team typically recommend that patients with one or more restorations avoid teeth whitening. In some cases, we may be able to whiten only the non-restored teeth or replace restorations to match the new enamel color. We can also recommend one of our many other cosmetic dentistry treatments.

The Right White

Whitening products seem to be everywhere these days: in the grocery store aisle, at the local pharmacy, and online, to name a few places. However, it’s important to do your due diligence and find a treatment that actually works. Some products on the market simply don’t work – or at least not very well. It may be the case that your teeth aren’t whitening because the products you’re using to whiten them aren’t effective.

For instance, at-home whitening kits are extremely popular. While they may include some of the same components (trays, bleach, etc.) as professional whitening, they may not approach its potency. A 2018 study on “Home-based chemically-induced whitening (bleaching) of teeth in adults…included 71 trials…with 26 studies,” totaling “1398 participants.” The researchers “found low to very low-certainty evidence over short time periods to support the effectiveness of home-based chemically-induced bleaching methods compared to placebo for all the outcomes tested…the overall evidence generated was of very low certainty.” This indicates that at-home whitening kits do not consistently produce the results promised or desired.

You can also find whitening rinses in most grocery stores or pharmacies. However, these also offer only dubious outcomes. For example, a 2017 article in Operative Dentistry detailed a study of the “whitening efficacy of whitening mouth rinses used alone or in conjunction with carbamide peroxide home whitening” on “one hundred twenty enamel-dentin specimens.” Although at-home whitening treatments’ success is already suspect, whitening rinses are even more so, it appears. According to this study, “none of [the rinses tested] were able to produce whitening similar to” the carbamide peroxide used in home whitening.

Like many cosmetic treatments, you have to balance the cost of your teeth whitening treatment with its quality. If you’ve been whitening and whitening with no results, it could be the case that your teeth would whiten just fine if you actually used workable products. Your best bet is to have your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist, like Dr. Flanagan. In addition to KöR Deep Bleaching, we offer ZOOM! Whitening. We can also provide an at-home whitening treatment with custom-made trays designed to fit your unique smile.

Healthy Whitening at Our Houston Practice

Whitening is less likely to work in the presence of other oral health concerns, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, “individuals with gum disease or teeth with worn enamel are generally discouraged from undergoing a tooth whitening procedure.” Even beyond discouragement, the organization notes that “cavities need to be treated before undergoing any whitening procedure,” and explains that “this is because the whitening solutions penetrate into any existing decay and the inner areas of the tooth, which can cause sensitivity.” This would be uncomfortable and potentially put your oral health at risk.

Before you jump to improving the aesthetics of your smile, it’s important to take care of the dental basics. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, you should maintain your oral health by coming to see Dr. Flanagan at least twice a year for an examination and cleaning. Unresolved dental issues like decay and gum disease could be the barrier to getting results with whitening.

In addition, age may be a consideration in teeth whitening. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “bleaching is not recommended in children under the age of 16.” Children’s teeth are still developing and, the pulp chamber, or nerve of the tooth, is enlarged until this age,” which increases the risk for dental tenderness. You will also want to be sure that you’re not allergic to any of the materials involved in your whitening treatment. “Pregnant or lactating women” are also discouraged from pursuing teeth whitening.

Dr. Flanagan and our team will help you consider these factors and determine if you’re an appropriate candidate for teeth whitening. While we, of course, want to help you enjoy a brighter smile, our first priority is always your oral health. You can enjoy safe, ideal results when your smile is truly qualified for this treatment.

Are You Ready to Really Whiten Your Teeth?

Dr. Flanagan and our Houston dental team would be glad to assist you! Contact us today to find out more and schedule an appointment.

Original Source: https://flanagansmiles.com/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-wont-whiten/

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