Use Tooth Whiteners With Caution

In today’s cosmetically conscious world practically everyone wants a whiter smile, and no one is immune to the countless advertisements touting over the counter teeth whiteners. So, what causes teeth to lose their luster in the first place? As it turns out, tobacco, coffee, tea, alcohol, food coloring and other additives, as well as natural aging are all culprits. In dentistry, tooth whitening is a cosmetic treatment that can provide patients with satisfyingly white smiles, but have you ever stopped to think about the chemicals that are involved in the whitening process?

A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

As long ago as ancient Egyptian and Roman times people were concerned about having a whiter smile, and they were diligent in recording their teeth whitening efforts. Records surviving from the Egyptian era show that people back then mixed a paste of pumice stone and vinegar counting on the abrasion from the pumice and acid of the vinegar to remove tooth stains. Somewhat unappetizingly, Romans found that urine – nature’s most perfect source of ammonia – helped to whiten teeth, a fact borne out in recent times that clearly demonstrate that diluted ammonia actually does have cleaning and brightening properties.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the pursuit of whiter teeth took a more barbaric turn when Europeans consulted their barbers, who ground down their teeth and then applied an acid solution to remove stains. Historical records show that Benjamin Franklin used a combination of honey and ground charcoal to clean his teeth and to keep them white – and ironically, today people are turning to activated charcoal to balance oral pH, to prevent cavities and kill harmful bacteria known to cause tooth decay and gingivitis. It is also being recognized as a fairly dynamic way to whiten teeth.

OVER-THE-COUNTER VERSION OF WHITENING

Today the teeth whitening process can take hours, and during that time, teeth and gums soak in chemically based tooth whiteners — and as a result you may end up ingesting a plethora of toxins. Home whitening kits indicate that the product may irritate gums, and they point out the risk of using the bleaching agent incorrectly, but there is very little warning about the chemicals that you are absorbing into your system as you wait for your teeth to whiten. Toxic chemicals can leak from the trays containing the whitening gel onto surrounding areas inside the mouth, and an alarming amount can be swallowed. At the very least, bleaching agents can cause damage to the nerves of the teeth leading to heightened sensitivity.

CHEMICALS IN WHITENERS AND WHITENING TOOTHPASTE

Over the counter teeth whitening kits and toothpaste are filled with potentially toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to a person’s health and teeth, potentially causing acute tooth sensitivity and oral sores. The most common ingredient is hydrogen peroxide which is usually broken down by saliva, however studies show that at least 25 percent is swallowed, releasing free radicals into the body creating an assault on the immune system and potentially causing harm to sensitive organs and systems of the body.

Additional ingredients found in some whitening products along with their most potentially adverse characteristics can include:

  • Coal tars: Severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration, nervousness, increased risk of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Found in bubble bath, hair dye, dandruff shampoo, toothpaste and foods.
  • Fluorides: May contain lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Accumulates in body and contributes to bone disease. Potentially carcinogenic.
  • Aspartame: Genetically Modified, synthetic sugar substitute. People report dizziness, headaches and even seizures. Scientists believe it can alter behavior due to altered brain function. Long term effects of this genetically modified organism on human health has not been studied or tested.
  • Aluminum: Heavy concentrations may be linked to Alzheimer’s dementia. Aluminum is in many antiperspirants and prevalent in water supplies. Some processed foods contain dietary aluminum.
  • Benzene: Inhalation of high levels can cause headaches, rapid heart rate, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness and death. Hodgkin’s and Lymphomas result from inhalation. Used in detergents, drugs, pesticides and adhesives.

HOLISTIC DENTAL WHITENING WITH OZONE

Today we recommend a safer, more holistic way to whiten teeth by employing Ozone Treatments. Ozone is generally applied in holistic and natural dentistry and used where it is needed to kill germs, bacteria, fungi and viruses. It is effective within minutes and leaves no side effects. The added benefit of ozone treatment is that it has a bleaching effect on the teeth, it’s safe and nothing toxic is ingested in the process.

ARTICLE RESOURCES:

List of the More Widely Known Dangerous Ingredients in Body & Food Products http://www.purezing.com/living/toxins/living_toxins_dangerousingredients.html
Swallowing chemicals from teeth whiteners is common and very dangerous http://www.naturalnews.com/033959_teeth_whiteners_chemicals.html

Cosmetic Care

MY OLD FILLINGS IN THE FRONT HAVE TURNED DARK, CAN THEY BE BLEACHED?

Unfortunately, dental bondings, composite resin fillings (tooth colored fillings) and old crowns cannot be bleached. Fillings that have discolored indicate that they are either leaking or have secondary decay, so it is best to replace them. A better choice may be to replace them with porcelain laminate/veneers for longer lasting results. Remember; only replace these fillings after bleaching in order to match the new improved color of your teeth. “How long does bleaching or laser teeth whitening really last?” It depends on many factors including your diet, the original color of your teeth, and your personal habits like smoking, drinking red wine, etc. Also darker teeth will need more than one whitening session to achieve the desired result. What’s most important is what you do for maintenance. Professional office visits are not enough. You must incorporate an effective maintenance regimen at home such as using whitening toothpaste which is specifically designed to non-abrasively remove surface stains like coffee, tea, tobacco and red wine, as well as remove plaque and bacteria. Also use the touch up kit given by your dentist to keep bleached teeth at their whitest.

I HAVE ONE DARK TOOTH IN THE FRONT. WILL REGULAR AT-HOME BLEACHING MAKES IT LIGHTER?

First of all, the cause of the dark tooth must be determined. It could be due to an earlier trauma to the tooth or previous root canal treatment. In such a case external teeth whitening treatments may not help. Your dentist may try internal bleaching which may take several sessions. If not, consider dental bonding, porcelain veneers, or capping the tooth to mask the darkness.

WILL MY TEETH BE SENSITIVE FOLLOWING BLEACHING?

Teeth may be sensitive during the week following the in–office bleaching. This can be dramatically reduced by using Sensodyne toothpaste to brush your teeth the week prior to and the week following the bleaching process. Also, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment following the bleaching process.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DENTAL BONDING AND PORCELAIN VENEERS?

Dental bonding is a plastic tooth colored (composite) resin material that is molded onto your teeth and hardened with a blue light. It is usually done in one visit. Little tooth reduction and usually no anesthesia is required.

The disadvantages of dental bonding are:

  1. They stain over time, may chip and may need to be replaced more often.
  2. Porcelain veneers are thin layers of stacked porcelain that are fabricated in the lab and bonded to teeth.
  3. It usually takes 2 visits. Little tooth reduction and some anesthesia are required.
  4. Porcelain veneers are stronger than dental bondings and less prone to staining.

I HAVE A SPACE BETWEEN MY TWO FRONT TEETH. HOW CAN IT BE CLOSED?

There are several ways to correct it. Your Dentist may advice Dental Bondings, Veneers or Orthodontics. Again, seek the advice of your dental health professional to choose the procedure that’s best for you.

IF I REQUIRE FILLINGS, WHAT TYPE SHOULD I GET?

In the past, Silver or amalgam fillings were extensively used. They are not tooth colored, stain teeth over time and healthier tooth structure may have to be removed to retain them since they do not bond to your teeth. Also, since they are a alloy of silver with mercury, there is a risk of mercury poisoning. Now, depending on the extent of decay and amount of tooth structure that is lost, your dentist may advice composite (tooth colored fillings) or porcelain inlays or onlays. Since tooth colored fillings bond to your teeth, there is no need for removal of healthy tooth structure.

I HAVE A “GUMMY” SMILE… CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?

With the advent of laser dentistry, this can be done very easily and painlessly in most cases. Tissue sculpting (gingivectomy) is done in adjunct to any required cosmetic work to achieve beautiful, healthy smile.

Cosmetic Care

My old fillings in the front have turned dark, can they be bleached?

Unfortunately, dental bondings, composite resin fillings (tooth colored fillings) and old crowns cannot be bleached. Fillings that have discolored indicate that they are either leaking or have secondary decay, so it is best to replace them. A better choice may be to replace them with porcelain laminate/veneers for longer lasting results. Remember; only replace these fillings after bleaching in order to match the new improved color of your teeth. “How long does bleaching or laser teeth whitening really last?” It depends on many factors including your diet, the original color of your teeth, and your personal habits like smoking, drinking red wine, etc. Also darker teeth will need more than one whitening session to achieve the desired result. What’s most important is what you do for maintenance. Professional office visits are not enough. You must incorporate an effective maintenance regimen at home such as using whitening toothpaste which is specifically designed to non-abrasively remove surface stains like coffee, tea, tobacco and red wine, as well as remove plaque and bacteria. Also use the touch up kit given by your dentist to keep bleached teeth at their whitest.

I have one dark tooth in the front. Will regular at-home bleaching makes it lighter?

First of all, the cause of the dark tooth must be determined. It could be due to an earlier trauma to the tooth or previous root canal treatment. In such a case external teeth whitening treatments may not help. Your dentist may try internal bleaching which may take several sessions. If not, consider dental bonding, porcelain veneers, or capping the tooth to mask the darkness.

Will my teeth be sensitive following Bleaching?

Teeth may be sensitive during the week following the in–office bleaching. This can be dramatically reduced by using Sensodyne toothpaste to brush your teeth the week prior to and the week following the bleaching process. Also, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment following the bleaching process.

What’s the difference between dental bonding and porcelain veneers?

Dental bonding is a plastic tooth colored (composite) resin material that is molded onto your teeth and hardened with a blue light. It is usually done in one visit. Little tooth reduction and usually no anesthesia is required.

The disadvantages of dental bonding are:

1. They stain over time, may chip and may need to be replaced more often.

2. Porcelain veneers are thin layers of stacked porcelain that are fabricated in the lab and bonded to teeth.

3. It usually takes 2 visits. Little tooth reduction and some anesthesia are required.

4. Porcelain veneers are stronger than dental bondings and less prone to staining.

I have a space between my two front teeth. How can it be closed?

There are several ways to correct it. Your Dentist may advice Dental Bondings, Veneers or Orthodontics. Again, seek the advice of your dental health professional to choose the procedure that’s best for you.

If I require fillings, what type should I get?

In the past, Silver or amalgam fillings were extensively used. They are not tooth colored, stain teeth over time and healthier tooth structure may have to be removed to retain them since they do not bond to your teeth. Also, since they are a alloy of silver with mercury, there is a risk of mercury poisoning. Now, depending on the extent of decay and amount of tooth structure that is lost, your dentist may advice composite (tooth colored fillings) or porcelain inlays or onlays. Since tooth colored fillings bond to your teeth, there is no need for removal of healthy tooth structure.

I have a “gummy” smile… can anything be done?

With the advent of laser dentistry, this can be done very easily and painlessly in most cases. Tissue sculpting (gingivectomy) is done in adjunct to any required cosmetic work to achieve beautiful, healthy smile.