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7 Things You May Not Know About Teeth Whitening

1. Teeth Whitening Works on a molecular level

Ever wonder how teeth whitening actually works?  Well, there’s a science to it. The active ingredient in professional teeth cleaning is hydrogen peroxide. These molecules are not very stable so they tend to break down quickly and as they do so they release free radicals. These free radicals are small enough to diffuse inside the tooth where they attack stains. As the stains disintegrate the tooth is left with a naturally lighter appearance. Since hydrogen peroxide is a very volatile molecule that breaks down rapidly, it’s crucial for a dental office to only use gel that’s fresh and has been refrigerated the entire time before use.

The way this process works is all to do with the makeup of the tooth itself. While the outer appearance of a tooth may look smooth and solid, when viewed from under a microscope, the look is very different. When viewed this closely, you can see that the structure of the tooth is made up of a series of very tightly packed crystals, bunched together but definitely a lot more porous than they originally appear. These crystals are called rods, and teeth are prone to staining when detritus is allowed to creep in between the gaps. 

When you use whitening toothpaste, as opposed to the professional products that are on offer, the stains that are removed are only those that are on the surface. This means that the problem of the stain has not been fully removed through the toothpaste alone. It’s also not a great idea to use too much of the toothpaste if you suffer from sensitivity as it works by being rougher on the surface of your enamel to break up the exterior stain. While there is good science behind specialist toothpastes, they aren’t nearly as effective as the work that trained professionals can do for you. Hydrogen peroxide can even be purchased for at-home treatment, but the amount in the products you can buy yourself is significantly lower, so the impact is never going to be as effective. 

If you choose Smile Arts of NY for your professional teeth whitening, NYC will soon all be looking in your direction! We have carried out the procedure thousands of times so we know how to make it a relaxed and pain-free experience for you. Having it done with our expert team also allows you to be safe in the knowledge that if you experience any discomfort afterwards (which is thankfully rare) we will provide you with a special milk-based paste that soothes the nerves that can cause pain.

2. Results from teeth whitening depend on how heavily teeth are stained.

Your teeth will only get as white as your unique natural tooth color. Our technology has not yet been able to predict how much whiter they will get following a cleaning procedure. That’s because it’s not yet possible to determine how much of the color is due to stains inside a tooth. The final result depends on your natural tooth color after the free radical molecules remove stains from inside the enamel. While we’ve seen people with heavy stains achieve results of up to 20 shades lighter,  others, with fewer stains might only see an improvement of 2 or 4 shades lighter.

The shades vary a great deal, depending not only on which particular pigments have contributed to the staining, but the natural color of the teeth themselves. Typically these may be split into a few general categories, each going from a very white hue towards a completely saturated stained tooth. The base colors for each category are grey, yellow and brown, but each of these come with a reddish tint. With these basic hues, dentists and other professionals are able to determine where your pearly whites fit on a chart, which is helpful for their plan of treatment as well as to see just how much progress you’ve made. 

There are so many different shades of white – which might seem surprising – but trusting in a professional to advise you is always a good plan. It’s become a bit of a common trope to see somebody with teeth that are blindingly white and to think that it’s just not a good look. Most professionals would agree with that and will advise you on the level of cleansing that is just right for you. Most of us don’t want to stand out quite that much, and something more subtle works best.

3. White spots may become more prominent

White spots on teeth are very common. They may be caused due to a lack of calcium (Hypocalcification) in areas of tooth enamel. There are many reasons for white spots to form including family genetics, wearing braces, enamel erosion due to plaque, fluorosis, acid reflux etc…. As stains inside the tooth are removed the white spots can become more prominent no matter what caused them in the first place. White spots that previously were covered up by stains can become visible. Usually they tend to start blending in after a few days as the tooth regains moisture and after a few weeks should be close to normal levels. For this reason we recommend whitening at least two weeks prior to any major event (i.e. wedding, photo shoot, etc…)

When is the best time to do the procedure?

With so much to consider when it comes to whitening it can be a bit daunting to know when to do it – especially if you’re taking the treatment in your own home where you have to administer it yourself. You may be immediately thinking that the best time is to do it ahead of a special occasion where you’ll be in lots of pictures, or something like a job interview. But thinking more of timing for a home treatment, it’s worth going for the overnight approach.

Applying gel overnight is a good option because it avoids additional staining risks that may come when you carry out the treatment during the day. This is because the gel works on the rods and opens the gaps slightly wider in your enamel. Overnight this isn’t a problem, and the gel can get to work effectively without anything else coming into contact with the open pores. However, if you were to do this during the day then the food and drink you consumed could lead to further staining! If in doubt, contact a firm that specializes in professional teeth whitening. NYC’s finest can provide plenty of advice.

4. Not everyone should do all three 15-minute sessions of Kaboom!

The hydrogen peroxide molecules on occasion may penetrate through the enamel to make its way to the dental pulp. The “zing” or sharp sensation is a result of that. This slight sensitivity usually does not last for more than a day. During the procedure it’s recommended for patients to notify their dental team if sensitivity becomes common. If this happens we would recommend that you stop the procedure early or to avoid applying any more gel on the sensitive areas which will limit the amount of sensitivity after the procedure. With Kaboom! whitening an average person would require three 15-minute sessions to remove stains. Fresh gel is applied after each treatment session. But for some people with sensitivity, performing just 2 or even 1 session is enough to achieve good results and to minimize the side effects of sensitivity.

Kaboom! Products

The Kaboom! family of products are broken down into two main categories, the first being the gel for professional teeth whitening. NYC patients typically requested the procedure more than any other dentistry treatment, so the gel was an easy and accessible route to getting them the results they desired. The gel is light activated and gets the best results in the most efficient way!

The other option from Kaboom! is the whitening pen. It looks just like a pen and is really simple and effective when used at home. Promising great results in under a week, it is a good choice for many who are exploring the options.

How to deal with sensitivity

Given that we know the process of whitening can increase sensitivity, it’s a good idea to outline some of the things you can do to offset this side effect. 

One option is to use gels or specialized toothpastes ahead of your procedure to get the teeth working how you want them. These products can rapidly decrease your sensitivity by changing the ways in which your nerves send the pain signals and can be really effective if used with enough time leading up to the whitening. You can use the toothpaste after the procedure too, to ensure a continued and robust impact.

As well as things like taking pain medication, you can avoid the pain in the first place by learning what triggers it. For most people, hot and cold drinks are a real trigger and you can easily avoid these for a few days to stop the worst of the sensitivity pain. Taking your drinks through a straw is also a fantastic way to avoid the liquid coming into contact with your enamel in the first place.

5. Follow the “white Diet” to maintain your results

It’s important to follow a “white diet” for the first 48 hours – this means abstaining from foods and drinks that can stain teeth. The pores in enamel are open and are more susceptible to absorbing stains in the first 2 days. The diet is the most important factor in maintaining whitening results. Consuming liquids or foods that stain your teeth can nullify the whitening results in just weeks. We suggest drinking coffee through a straw so that it doesn’t touch the front portion of a tooth. Smoking should be avoided. And try to rinse with water immediately after consuming foods or drinks that may stain teeth.

As well as coffee, there are a number of foods and drinks that are best avoided in this early period directly after the process has completed. The biggest names in professional teeth whitening, NYC and beyond, all recommend a similar list, so it’s a good idea to have a think about what you’re exposing your newly cleaned teeth to in those first crucial days. 

Acidic drinks are best avoided where possible. Soda and sports drinks contain a higher level of acidity that is sometimes associated with the breakdown of enamel. With yours in such a vulnerable position so soon after treatment it’s a good idea to steer clear of these beverages.

This extends to non-beverage acidic products as well, such as tomato sauce. You would be right in thinking that tomatoes are pretty healthy for you, but their impact on the teeth can be less beneficial. Especially when the tomatoes are processed into a sauce like with pizza. The acid in the sauce can cause havoc if your teeth have just been treated. 

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, foodstuffs like candy are worth avoiding in those first days as they are well known for causing stains and the sugar in them is a tooth’s worst enemy! While brushing regularly can offset the impact most of the time, it’s best to avoid them altogether while your enamel is so exposed.

6. Home whitening works just as well as in office whitening (but takes longer)

White strips and most other whitening gels you can pick up in the store contain carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is about three times weaker but more stable than hydrogen peroxide. Which means it would take longer to get the same results as the in-office 25% hydrogen peroxide treatment. The in-office teeth whitening treatment is ideal for those who need their teeth whitened in a hurry or just don’t have the patience to deal with whitening trays.

If your approach, following a good discussion with the experts, is to opt for home whitening, then it can be useful to know a bit about how you do this. 

If your preferred method is the take-home tray you’ll benefit from a higher dose of bleach than in the standard products you can get from stores or online. Getting your products from a dentist means that they can be a little bit more bespoke: in this case you’ll take the specially designed tray and add the mixture before placing it over your teeth. 

You can also use strips to achieve a similar effect. They form themselves to the shape of your mouth and provide a flexible approach to whitening. Brush on gels are also available which work – as you might expect – by brushing a mixture directly onto the enamel after meals. These are great for everyday use as they can help to prevent high-stain foods from taking effect.

7. Teeth Whitening is a perfectly safe cosmetic treatment

Teeth whitening is the safest cosmetic procedure you can elect to have done in a dental office. There’s no damage to enamel or the integrity of your tooth structure. When done by a professional they can ensure that your gums are protected from being burned by the whitening gel. Aside from the slight tooth sensitivity that may last up to 24 hours, there are no other negative side effects.

The safety of this treatment is not to be doubted, but there are a few things that are worth knowing before going ahead with it, whether doing it at home or going down the route of professional teeth whitening. NYC residents have been doing this process for many years now, so the safety procedures are well established and Smile Arts is always there to make sure the patient is safe and relaxed. 

The main things to remember when taking on this treatment is to ensure that the products you use are approved by the ADA, and that your dentist has discussed the pros and cons with you before the treatment begins. If using an at-home product, then following the instructions to the letter is a must – although these products are safe, they’re only safe if used in the ways that have been stipulated in the instructions. Finally, a little sensitivity is to be expected when undergoing this process, but if this persists or becomes too uncomfortable then don’t hesitate to contact us.

About Dr. Peter mann

Having completed NYU School of Dentistry and a General Residency program in Kings County hospital.  Dr. Peter Mann has trained with some of the top world renowned dentists.  Being recognized in 2009 with a fellowship award from the (ICOI) International Congress of Oral Implantology and in 2012 with a fellowship award from the (AGD) Academy of General Dentistry.   

In 2009 Dr. Peter Mann decided it was time to achieve his vision by opening his dental office to provide outstanding dental services to NYC residents.  Smile Arts of NY is located  in the heart of Manhattan on E. 40th between Madison and Park ave.

Originally born in Ukraine, when iron curtain of communism collapsed his family took the opportunity to pursue the American dream by moving to New York. Dr. Peter Mann has lived in New York ever since, for over 33 years. His goal is to provide excellent dental experience for his fellow New Yorkers.

Dr. Mann lives minutes from the office. Patients undergoing treatment have his cell phone number and can always get in touch with any questions or concerns. It’s not unusual to see Dr. Mann arriving after hours to help a patient with an emergency.

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