It's that wonderful time of year again, the time of year when we come together with friends and family to celebrate. One of the things many of Drs. Mandy and Robert Shearers' patients ask is how to make their smile whiter and brighter. With the help of their team at Soddy Daisy Smiles, there are several options to fit each person's budget and goals.
The first option is whitening toothpaste. When used regularly, whitening toothpaste can help remove surface stains and plaque and contribute to a healthy smile, according to Dr. Mandy Shearer.
"They are specially formulated to remove surface stains from natural teeth," she said. "They usually contain mild abrasives, such as hydrated silica, or chemicals with stain-dissolving properties."
Whitening toothpaste is mild enough to be safe for most people, although some report that the stain-removing chemicals make their teeth feel more sensitive. To solve that issue, there are now whitening toothpastes that offer sensitivity protection.
Another option is over-the-counter whitening strips and gels. Whitening strips and gel pens hold a peroxide-based gel. Whitening strips are
very thin strips that act as a gel-carrier for the whitener.
"Initial results are seen in a few days and final results are sustained for about four months," Dr. Mandy Shearer said. "The whitening pens apply the gel with a small brush directly to the surface of your teeth. Instructions generally call for twice a day application for 14 days. We have found the whitening strips tend to work faster for our patients."
Custom bleaching trays made by Soddy Daisy Smiles is another option.
"This is the most popular form of whitening with our patients, and we have had great success with it as well," she said. "Take-home whitening trays are ideal for people who want the most customized whitening treatment possible."
Impressions are made of the patient's mouth, which allows a custom-fit tray to be made just for him or her. This customization allows for maximum contact between the whitening gel, which is applied to the mouthpiece tray, and the teeth. A custom-made tray also minimizes the gel's contact with gum tissue, unlike the over-the-counter strips, thus causing less irritation.
"We can also customize the strength of the whitening product based on your needs and goals," Dr. Mandy Shearer added. "The tray is worn for a period of time, generally from an hour to all night depending on the system used, for up to four weeks [depending on the degree of discoloration and desired level of whitening]. Custom-fit trays typically last years, allowing you to simply purchase more whitening gel from your dentist."
The two side effects that occur most often with teeth whitening are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth - particularly the gums - for patients who are concerned. Tissue irritation most commonly results from an ill-fitting mouthpiece tray rather than the tooth-bleaching agent, according to Dr. Mandy Shearer. Both of these conditions usually are temporary and disappear within one to three days of stopping or completing treatment, she added.
"The No. 1 question my patients have about whitening is, 'Does it hurt?' Most people have very minimal discomfort, typically cold sensitivity and minor gum irritation that resolve very quickly," she noted. "But it's important before you start any whitening program to have a dental exam to make sure there no cavities, compromised fillings, leaking crowns or gum disease, as the whitening products can exacerbate these underlying problems."
Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy, unrestored teeth (no fillings) and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best.
For more information on teeth whitening options, call Soddy Daisy Smiles at 423-332-5275 to schedule an appointment, or visit soddydaisysmiles.com.