Category Archives: Teeth Whitening

Do cavities disqualify me from whitening?

I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s been way to long since I went to the dentist for an oral hygiene appointment. But I’ve always had good teeth. So, I was shocked when I heard I had a few cavities at my last appointment. Then, the dentist explained that fillings can’t be changed later, so now was the time to get teeth whitening. Are they just trying to sell me on whitening? When I looked online, it says you’re not supposed to get your teeth whitened when you have cavities. I’m confused.

-Paul in New Mexico


That’s interesting that they recommended teeth whitening. Did you pose the question, or how did it come up?

Generally speaking, the dental office is correct. Once composite fillings have been placed, the color cannot e changed. Replacing them at a later date would be the only way to lighten the color of the filling material.

Teeth whitening ingredients are very powerful. Sensitivity is common with teeth whitening treatments. So, if you have cavities, it is possible the sensitivity may be heightened because more the nerves are exposed when there is decay.

Getting the cavities filled should be your first priority. You can get the whitening done at anytime. It would be difficult to anticipate the exact shading of your whitened teeth. But, how much of the filling will show? Many people have cavities filled and they are not visible 99 percent of the time.

It can also be assumed that the dentist wouldn’t have even suggested teeth whitening, if you weren’t a good candidate. Therefore, it is quite possible that your cavities are small and probably shouldn’t be an issue. So, there is probably nothing wrong in getting the whitening done first, unless the doctor recommends against it. You just need to be cautious and aware of the possibility of experiencing sensitivity.

You can use a fluoride rinse prior to whitening to dull the sensitivity. The dentist may have some recommendations on a specific brand, or you may be able to find one at the drug store. If you are still concerned, the dentist may be able to provide fluoride treatment in the office to help protect the certain areas where the cavities will be filled.

Most people don’t have any sensitivity when whitening teeth. But, it’s good to know how to take the best precautions.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

How to fix white spots after daughter’s braces were removed?

My daughter has been counting the days until her braces came off. For her 16th birthday, she wanted nothing more than to have them removed. We did it! But the excitement was short-lived when she had these ugly white spots left on her teeth. The orthodontist didn’t say much, so when we took her into our regular dentist he recommended getting Zoom whitening done. So we did. Big mistake! The white spots look worse. He told us the color would even out but nothing has happened since the whitening was done. Do we really have to wait? Or should we try another form of tooth whitening?

– Pam in Maryland


When white spots appear after braces are removed, it is not a teeth whitening issue. This is actually decalcification that occurs since it is very difficult to clean around the braces. If extra care is given to the hygiene, then the minerals in the tooth are stripped off. Cosmetically, this appears as white spots on the tooth. It’s not decay, which many individuals actually assume. It is from the lack of minerals that leaves the teeth more succeptible.

Unfortunately, the orthodontist should have addressed this issue. Also, it doesn’t sound like your general dentist does much cosmetic dentistry. He should have known this wouldn’t fix the problem.

Zoom whitening will do the opposite, as you found out the hard way. The spots stand out more! There are some oral health products on the market designed to re-mineralize the teeth. But there really are no guarantees with going that route. But if you are interested in giving them a try, look up Tooth Mousse or MI Paste online. They claim that the high mineral content in the product will help strengthen and re-absorb the minerals.

Another treatment that may work for your daughter is called microabrasion. If you explore this option, be sure the dentist has had success with this treatment. Ask to see cases similar to yours and ask if he has ever had any cases that turned out creamy versus white after treatment. Since these spots will eventually be decayed areas, it may be beneficial to have them removed. That is the thought process behind this option. Then dental bonding is added to protect and strengthen the teeth. This will also eliminate the appearance-related issues your daughter is troubled with. Bonding will require periodic touch-ups.

Thanks for your question. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Can I get sedation dentistry during tooth whitening?

I have been wanting to get my teeth whitened for years but I always chicken out because I have very sensitive teeth. I’ve tried Crest white strips and other whitening products you get at the drug store and they make me very uncomfortable. My mom has teeth that are very sensitive and she told me she was in so much pain that she didn’t do anything the day after the whitening at the dentist. I want to know if I can be sedated for the appointment?

-Kathryn in Iowa


Even for individuals that don’t otherwise have sensitive teeth, bleaching teeth can cause increased sensitivity. Since you know that you will be sensitive, you can make sure your dentist is aware of it. He or she may be able to provide you with a special desensitizing rinse or toothpaste that is used before the teeth whitening appointment. You may also benefit from taking an ibuprofen prior to the visit, as well.

Sedation dentistry is excellent for individuals that are anxious or fearful about dental care. But it really isn’t going to do anything for you at a teeth whitening appointment. This is mainly because the discomfort won’t occur during the appointment. The sensitivity will occur for a day or two after the work is done. Since sedation dentistry will do nothing to combat the discomfort afterwards, it isn’t the way to go. Be sure to communicate any discomfort during the appointment so your dentist can make the necessary adjustments throughout the appointment. Some sensitivity is normal. But you shouldn’t be dealing with pain. Make sure you have the dentist examine your teeth prior to the appointment if it hasn’t been done yet. This way any urgent needs can be addressed prior to the whitening appointment. Best of luck!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.


Cleaning chewing gum off your bleaching trays

We see this occasionally – a teeth bleaching patient who can’t leave the chewing gum alone and learns, the hard way, that the gum sticks awfully to the bleaching trays. We were thinking that the patient would probably just need a new bleaching tray, but we saw a post online on another dental blog that has a way to remove the gum.

They were talking about Invisalign in this case, but this would also work for bleaching trays, which are very similar. To remove chewing gum from your Invisalign aligner trays, they said that mineral spirits would take it off very cleanly. We tried this on a bleaching tray, and it works very well. Then clean off the mineral spirits with soap and water.

They cautioned about confusing mineral spirits (or turpentine) with acetone, which is a very different chemical. Acetone will dissolve the plastic, they said. We didn’t try that, but just trust their knowledge.

This blog is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Dr. Brad Hylan.

For those intrigued by Invisalign invisible braces, check out our FastBraces – they move your teeth fast and comfortably.


Sedation Dentistry for Zoom Whitening?

I have extremely sensitive teeth. I never really had any cavities or dental work, but severe sensitivity has always been a problem. I am having Zoom whitening done next week and I’m so afraid about the pain factor as I’ve heard you can get very sensitive afterward. My sister had in office teeth whitening and was out of commission for at least 2 days afterward as she said she’s never felt so much pain in her life; as if all of the nerves in her teeth were exposed. Since I know sensitivity is a problem for me, I’m wondering if the dentist will use sedation/anesthesia on me so I can make it through the procedure. Is that possible?

– Becky in Michigan


You are correct in our thoughts about the sensitivity factor associated with teeth whitening, especially in-office whitening such as Zoom whitening. However, sedation dentistry is generally reserved for restorative work, or children (and adults) who may need that something extra to keep them relaxed during procedures. While sedation dentistry will put you in a relaxed, comfortable state allowing you to feel no pain, it would be a waste during a procedure like whitening. First, Zoom is painless while it’s being done. The “pain” you are referring to is actually sensitivity, as the whitening process tends to dehydrate your teeth making them quite sensitive; an effect you may feel more so if you have sensitivity to begin with. This sensitivity usually happens after the procedure. So while you may feel some zings here and there while under the lamp, the bulk of sensitivity will come the following 24-48 hrs. The best you can do is plan ahead by trying to desensitize your teeth with a fluoride rich toothpaste/mouthwash or something your dentist can prescribe. Doing this for a while prior to the appointment can help. And of course if you feel any discomfort during the process, let your dentist know so they can discontinue use of the lamp.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

My dental implant is darker than my other teeth and whitening isn’t working.

It has been a couple of years since I had my dental implant placed to replace a missing tooth. It used to match the surrounding teeth in my mouth but now it is getting much darker. I have been whitening my teeth but nothing is happening to the color of the implant. It continues to be much darker than my other teeth. Do you know if there is a different teeth whitening product I can use to fix it?

– Rhonda in Illinois


Sorry to hear that you aren’t happy with the look of your dental implant. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any tooth whitening agent or whitening system that is a simple solution to your issue. Typically, it is always good to have your teeth whitened prior to getting a dental implant or a  porcelain restoration. That is mainly because porcelain will not whiten. But it also shouldn’t change color either because it is highly stain resistant.

Since there is discoloration occurring with your dental implant, it is possible that the seal wasn’t properly executed. So the color wasn’t sealed in which means that the porcelain is susceptible to stains. A dentist can darken a crown, but lightening it is not an option. Take home whitening products will also not work, even though the surrounding teeth may appear lighter. But continuing with the at home whitening systems will only make the implant appear darker, since the surrounding teeth are lightening.

It’s unfortunate that your dental office didn’t discuss this matter with you prior to getting the implant placed. At this point, in order to achieve a uniform color for all your teeth, the porcelain crown (which sits on top of the implant) will need to be replaced. If you decide that you would like to move forward with that, then you should give your surrounding teeth a couple of weeks to stabilize so the color can be matched. It would also be wise to consult with a cosmetic dentist this time around. The porcelain crown can be made to match your surrounding teeth perfectly and an experienced cosmetic dentist will be able to create a beautiful restoration.

Sorry that there isn’t a quick fix out there at the moment. Hopefully this post explains what has happened.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.