Tooth Whitening Questions and Answers Archive
Q&A: I have a stained tooth that is wearing or chipping away. Could laser tooth whitening cause this?
Recently I have noticed that one of my front two upper teeth is beginning to wear away - or is chipping. On those two front teeth I have some staines that I have tried to have removed by a laser about 6 years ago, but failed. I'm wondering if those staines have anything to do with my tooth "wearing away" and if the other one might begin to do so, or if it is being caused by something else. I plan on visiting my dentist soon but wondered if you might happen to know if the staines are part of the cause. Thanks.- Amy
Stains are a seperate issue from the chipps. I am not aware of literature showing the use of whitening lasers having an effect on teeth that would result in later breakage. It may be possible that you have mirofractures that stained and later chipped. Without the benefit of seeing them though, I could not tell. You are making the right move to go see a dentist in person for an evaluation.
-- Debra Gray King, DDS
When I was very young, I had to take a lot of iron and it resulted in my teeth being very dark. I have used over-the counter whiteners and even a dentist's whitening products to no avail. Would laser whitening work on my teeth?- Sharon
Thanks for your question, Sharon. Frequently, dentists hear from peapole who have not gotten the results they wanted through over-the-counter whiteners. In fact, I have never seen a patient that has gotten good results this way. Several factors can contribute to the darkening of teeth, including the effects of age, foods and drinks, smoking and some medications. Darkened teeth caused by oral supplements or medications pose more of a challenge. The whitening process involves placing a whitening solution in contact with the teeth, causing oxidation of stains and subsequent lightening. There are a variety of systems available, ranging from those done in the dental office to dentist supervised at-home systems. You specifically asked about laser whitening. This is a procedure that is becoming less popular and is being replaced by light-activated in-office whitening systems. For a high percentage of our patients, this whitening technique has been very successful. It usually takes a couple of hours and usually costs about $500 many times, the laser whitening used to cost from $1,200 to $2,000). A smile darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange responds better to whitening than brown or white spots caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline (grayed teeth). If you have very sensitive teeth or teeth with worn enamel, we can use whitening materials that are designed specifically for sensitive teeth. The more traditional tray whitening takes a little longer to complete. Tray whitening is accomplished by wearing a form-fitted matrix containing a whitening or whitening agent at home for two to four weeks. The take home systems tend to cost a little less than in-office systems. In the take-home system, we mold your teeth and make the trays to fit snugly to your teeth to prevent spillage of the whitening gel. Usually you place these trays over your teeth before going to sleep and take them out in the morning. With tray whitening most people will notice a change in the color of their teeth the first night they bleach. Tray whitening takes about seven to ten days to complete. How Does It Work? Both in-office and take home systems are based on a hydrogen peroxide solution, which releases oxygen. The oxygen works on the teeth by breaking down the protein stains in the teeth without harming the tooth itself. The lightness should last from 1 to 5 years, depending on your personal habits. People, who smoke, drink a lot of coffee or tea will have results that do not last as long. Touch up whitening can be used after several years or for a special occasion. It is important to note that whitening does not lighten caps or crowns or tooth colored fillings, such as composite resins or porcelains.
--Debra Gray King, DDS