This is what your patients should know about teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is not always safe, but what do your patients know about whitening teeth? Read more.
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More people than ever are searching for brighter, whiter teeth. But before you get your patient settled in the dentist chair, it’s important they understand the ins and outs of professional teeth whitening so they know what they’re getting themselves into. The next time someone walks into your practice requesting a Hollywood-white smile, here’s what you should let them know.

Realistic expectations

Explain that although teeth whitening is essentially bleaching enamel, it’s unlikely to give them the brilliant white smile they’re imagining. Teeth whitening can only lighten the existing color by a couple of shades — it can’t do miracles. The natural colour of teeth is set at birth and the only thing a whitening product can do is remove stains which have developed over time. 

So your patient isn’t left disheartened or annoyed after the procedure, show them a few before and after shots of previous patients who’ve had teeth whitening at your practice. This way they’ll have realistic expectations and will be more satisfied with the end result.

Dangers of whitening teeth at home

With so many teeth whitening kits available online and over the counter at cheap prices, your patients might be tempted to take care of their teeth whitening themselves. So you don’t end up having to fix a horrendous problem in the future and your patient doesn’t do themselves some serious damage, it’s important you explain the consequences of using teeth whitening kits at home. 

One recent study discovered that sodium chlorite, an active ingredient found in several OTC whitening products, could significantly reduce the hardness of teeth, while increasing the likelihood of surface abrasions. It’s your duty to inform your patient that not only could buying products like these be a waste of money (since many are ineffective) but some could actually cause permanent damage which will cost them a lot more money in the long run to fix.

Whitening must be done in a registered dental practice

Many beauty salons and even mall kiosks are now offering very affordable teeth whitening. But it’s very affordable for a reason. The products used are not of the same quality as those used by dental hygienists and the people carrying out the cheaper procedures simply aren’t qualified to do so. Not only can this result in poor quality teeth whitening, but there’s also a real possibility that your patient could suffer from severe gum burns and intense pain. 

Explain to your patient that teeth whitening carried out in beauty salons, mall kiosks or by people who come to their home is totally unregulated and downright dangerous. Dental hygienists are qualified professionals who have been trained to carry out the procedure with the correct equipment.

UV light whitening is temporary

If your dental practice offers different whitening treatments, let your patient know that the results obtained through UV light whitening are temporary. This type of whitening works by accelerating the whitening gel, making it do its job faster. This process is regulated by the FDA and should only ever be offered under dentist supervision. 

Although it’s a quick procedure, UV light whitening isn’t suitable for people with sensitive teeth and the initial treatment must be followed-up with at-home whitening with custom-made whitening trays or repeat dental visits which can be incredibly expensive and time consuming. Educate your patient on the alternative teeth whitening treatments you offer so they’ve got the full picture. 

Sensitivity after teeth whitening is normal

Over 60% of American patients naturally have sensitive teeth due to genetics, thin enamel or slightly damaged teeth. Because of this, experiencing slight sensitivity during and after teeth whitening is perfectly normal and expected. During whitening, teeth become temporarily dehydrated, reducing their ability to insulate the nerve from temperature changes, causing sensitivity.

Before your patient agrees to teeth whitening, let them know they’ll experience some mild discomfort during the procedure, but the sensitivity will wear off 12-36 hours after whitening. It’s also a good idea to recommend a post-whitening fluoride treatment following the procedure the promote speedy rehydration and nourish the teeth.  

Teeth whitening isn’t for everyone

Although the teeth whitening procedures carried out within dental practices are safe, they’re not suitable for everyone. People with particularly sensitive teeth, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, adolescents who still have baby teeth and people with gum disease should avoid having their teeth whitened.

It’s also important you let your patients know that teeth whitening only works on natural, healthy teeth. It won’t work on crowns, fillings or dead teeth. Make sure your patient is aware of the health requirements they must meet meet before they can have their teeth whitened and if they’re not up to the mark just yet, it’s worth holding off until they’re ready.

How to maintain pearly whites

Although teeth whitening doesn’t last forever, there are some steps patients can take following the procedure to keep their smile gleaming white. Advise your patients to brush their teeth shortly after consuming highly-straining food and drinks, such as coffee, red wine, tea and dark berries.

If they usually drink their coffee black, adding a dash of milk can minimize the staining effects and if they smoke, advise them to stop. Not just because nicotine stains are incredibly hard to remove from teeth, but for the good of their health, too! 

Written By Nicola Quinn