Everyone knows that brushing and flossing is necessary for maintaining a beautiful smile, but what if teeth already have flaws? Discoloration is a common problem that prevents many people from achieving a radiant smile - even people with perfectly healthy teeth. Luckily, there are whitening treatments that can remove the most common stains that plague teeth.
At our Memphis area office, we offer Zoom! whitening to brighten a smile by eight shades in just 45 minutes. As effective and safe as this procedure is, it may not be optimal for every patient. Before deciding on which cosmetic treatment is right for you, learn what professional whitening can solve and who may benefit most from it.
What Can Teeth Whitening Fix?
Whitening treatment is intended to remove stains from teeth, thus producing a brighter overall smile. However, not all stains are necessarily removable through whitening. To better understand which stains may be present on your teeth, refer to the two basic types of discoloration:
- Surface stains: Also called extrinsic stains, this type of discoloration occurs from contact with certain substances. Most often, food, drink, and tobacco are responsible for these stains that appear on or within enamel. They tend to result in the general darkening or yellowing of teeth, as opposed to small, individual stains.
- Deep stains: Also called intrinsic stains, this type of discoloration can result from any of a number of factors, including injury, medication, fluoride, and disease. As the name suggests, deep stains occur below the surface enamel of a tooth, often making them impossible to fully remove. They tend to appear as a distinct, localized area of discoloration.
In general, teeth whitening is intended for the removal or reduction of surface stains. Although deep stains may be lightened through whitening, they will probably be largely unaffected due to their placement within the tooth.
Candidates for Teeth Whitening
The best candidates for whitening are patients with healthy, natural teeth that suffer from surface staining. Since the procedure is safe and has few side effects, most patients who meet these criteria can easily undergo whitening treatment. Still, there are a few factors that may inhibit ones results:
- Prior dental restorations: Keep in mind that whitening gel does not affect dental restorations. Therefore, if any front teeth are surfaced with composite resin or porcelain that has been color-matched to your current smile, the use of whitening may produce a more visible contrast between such material and surrounding tooth tissue.
- Tooth sensitivity: The primary side effect of whitening is temporary sensitivity in teeth. Patients who already have sensitive teeth may want to consider their comfort in the 24 to 48 hours following treatment.
- Prior whitening treatment: While a single whitening session is safe, it is possible to have too many whitening treatments within a given timespan. If teeth are over-bleached, their enamel can erode, exposing the underlying dentin tissue.
Before receiving teeth whitening, speak with your cosmetic dentist about your own candidacy and what you can expect from treatment.
Is Teeth Whitening Covered by Insurance?
Unfortunately, teeth whitening is not conventionally covered by insurance, seeing as its a cosmetic procedure. However, if you wish to discuss financing options or discounts available for certain methods of payment, our staff would be happy to assist you. We take every patients finances into consideration, and we are committed to making your experience as stress-free as possible.
Alternative Cosmetic Options
If your teeth have deep stains that will not come out with whitening, consider an alternative cosmetic procedure. Porcelain veneers, for example, can conceal discoloration along with other cosmetic flaws. By covering a tooth with porcelain, a veneer is able to essentially recreate and enhance its outward appearance. Veneers may be placed singularly for individual stains, or across all front teeth for an entirely new smile. If your teeth have multiple imperfections that seriously detract from your smile, speak with us about the benefits of porcelain veneers.
We look forward to helping you brighten your smile. Contact our office for more information on our cosmetic services and to schedule an initial consultation.