Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: August, 2012

By The Office of Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler
August 17, 2012
Category: Uncategorized
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Brighten Your Smile this summer with Teeth Whitening Procedures

If you smile is stained or discolored, you have solutions for improving the appearance of your smile.  Rather than just putting up with teeth that are not as bright as you would desire, take a closer look at teeth whitening to understand your options.  Whether you receive professionally dispensed take-home whitening kits, or complete your whitening with an in-office procedure, you can achieve a smile that sparkles this summer.

How are Teeth Stained?

Teeth can become discolored due to a variety of reasons—both on the surface or changes in the tooth material.  There are three main types of tooth discoloration: extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related.  Extrinsic discoloration occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is stained.  Smoking, and drinking coffee, wine, cola or other drinks or foods can stain teeth. 

On the other hand, intrinsic stains occur when the inner structure of the tooth (dentin) darkens or get s yellow tint.  You can develop this type of discoloration if you had:

  • Too much exposure to fluoride as a child
  • Used tetracycline antibiotics when you were 8 years old or younger
  • Trauma that affected the tooth when you were a young child
  • Trauma in a permanent tooth, and internal bleeding discolored the tooth
  • Been born with a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta, which causes gray, amber or purple discolorations

Lastly, age-related discolorations occur as a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors.  Dentin naturally yellows over time, while the enamel that covers the teeth gets thinner with age as well—allowing the dentin to show through.  Foods and smoking can also stain teeth as you age, while chips or other injuries can discolor a tooth, especially when the pulp has been damaged.

Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits

Take-home whitening kits provided by your dentist in Lansing are available only from your dentist as they contain a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide or Carbamide peroxide.  With these take-home kits, you may only need to use them for one to two weeks.  Custom-fit trays keep the whitening solution on the surface of the tooth to be whitened, and allow for only slight exposure of the solution to the sensitive gums area. 

Typically, your dentist will first take impressions of your upper and lower teeth.  Once the impressions are made, your dentist will send them to the dental laboratory to make your custom  

trays.  It will normally take about one to two weeks for the dental lab to complete your trays.  At this initial visit, your initial shade of your teeth will be recorded in your dental chart for comparison when whitening has been completed. 

Once the trays are returned to your dentist, your next appointment will allow your dentist to show you how to properly dispense the teeth whitening solution in the trays, with detailed instructions to follow.  Take-home whitening is used for about one hour a day for two weeks, and can also be used for touch-up applications thereafter. 


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Holly A. Scott-Hetchler DDS, PC 919 Chester RdLansing, MI 48912