As your dental team, our utmost concern is your safety. We would never offer a treatment that could prove harmful to you or your teeth. We thought we would weigh in on the ongoing discussion of whether teeth whitening could damage your enamel, and offer some resources that will help you decide whether or not (and how) you would like to whiten.

Seattle Dentist on Whitening Safety

We'll spoil the intrigue of the safety question by leading with the truth: there is always a way to whiten safely. It's when patients take whitening to the extreme that their enamel could become damaged. But by following the whitening guide and tips we've set out below, you'll be able to brighten your smile without having to deal with negative consequences. The most important tip is to always begin the whitening process by talking to your dentist.

How Different Teeth Whitening Options Affect Your Teeth

While "whitening" is the broad term for any treatment that lightens the color of your smile, there's actually a distinction between teeth whitening and teeth bleaching. Whitening products remove superficial stains to restore the natural color of your enamel. Bleaching is more intense, and changes the color of your enamel. Teeth bleaching products contain peroxides that break up internal and external stains. As you may imagine, bleaching has a stronger effect on your enamel. But it can be tough to distinguish between whitening and bleaching products. For this reason, you should always consult a professional before undertaking a whitening plan.

While there have been rare instances in which bleaching damaged enamel, this is avoidable. If you use an in-office whitening system like our office's KoR Whitening or GLO Science, your gums will be protected from the whitening agent, and your teeth will only be whitened to a safe extent. Bringing a dentist like Dr. Okamura armed with professional whitening systems into your cosmetic plan ensures that you'll whiten the right way.

Common Whitening Concerns - And How to Solve Them

  • When whitening, you never want to go lighter than the whites of your eyes. Anything lighter will not only look unnatural, but could damage your enamel.

  • Choose your products carefully. As is the theme of this post: talk to your dentist before making a whitening product decision.
  • Be realistic with your whitening goals. It's not always possible (or wise) to whiten to the shade that you've had in mind. Your teeth will look beautiful even with a slightly less bright luster.

  • Respond properly to tooth sensitivity. If your teeth are making whitening uncomfortable, it's time to explore your whitening options. There are ways for patients with even the most sensitive teeth to whiten. They may need to prepare their teeth with a period of fluoride treatment, or by using fluoride toothpaste. There are also sensitivity-minded whitening systems that could accommodate your needs. Talk to Dr. Okamura about your sensitivity to get some help finding a solution.

If you approach whitening in the right way, you will be able to brighten your smile - even if you have sensitive teeth or periodontal concerns. Patients with existing dental work should be advised that whitening won't change the shade of crowns, veneers, or bonding. If you have dental work in your smile, it may be a better decision to update the restorations. They'll resist staining and perfectly match the rest of your smile.

Have any questions about whitening safety, or how you should proceed with your cosmetic treatment? Simply get in touch with our office to talk to a member of our team. We look forward to brightening your grin!

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Dr. Kim Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.