Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Markham Orthodontist Discusses Tooth Whitening Pastes: Do They Work?

A lot of our Markham braces and Richmond Hill Invisalign patients often ask us about tooth whitening in Toronto, using whitening toothpastes. The question is whether they actually work, and if not, what works best?

By definition, tooth whitening means whitening teeth back to their natural shade. For many people this may not actually be "white enough". To get teeth whiter than that, bleaching is required. However, bleaching doesn't sound all that great, so dental companies also refer to their bleaching products as whitening, to make them sound more appealing. In other words, whitening toothpaste and whitening gel in trays from the dentist will do different things, even though they have similar descriptive names.
Whitening pastes, mouthwashes, and gum simply need to remove surface stains off the teeth to be certified by the American Dental Association as "whitening". Virtually toothpastes have some kind of abrasives in them that make them whitening. Mouthwashes can rinse surface stains off the teeth, and the mechanical action of chewing gum against the teeth can do the same. It is the companies who have paid the money to the ADA who receive the ADA seal to put on their packaging.

In order to truly get whiter teeth like in the commercials, you will need to do some teeth bleaching, such as gels in a tray, or some of the light-activated systems such as Zoom. Keep in mind that you may experience some transient sensitivity, and that a lot of whitening is due to increasing porosity of the enamel surface. Some dentists liken it to tanning. It may provide nicer aesthetics, it can become addictive, and is not really a healthcare-motivated decision.

After orthodontic treatment at your Markham Orthodontist, we recommend our patients wait a couple of months after braces have been removed so that the teeth can remineralize before using any bleaching method. In general, visiting the dentist for regular cleanings and polishing, as well as maintaining good brushing habits will keep your teeth quite white. Anything beyond natural white will require a visit to an oral health care professional.

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