With dreams of pearly white teeth, you set an appointment for a whitening treatment at your dentist's office and expect to see immediate results — and you're not alone. In a survey of American Association of Orthodontists members published by the American Journal of Orthodontics, nearly 90 percent of their patients requested tooth whitening to fine-tune their smile.
While teeth whitening is proven to be safe and effective, some may experience unwanted white stains on teeth after the procedure. Wanting a brighter smile is a common concern, but doing a little research on whitening procedures before your treatment can go a long way. Here's what you need to know ahead of time about the possible appearance of white spots on your teeth.
White Stains After Whitening Treatments
Teeth whitening doesn't exactly cause white tooth stains, but if your teeth already have white stains caused by hypocalcification, then tooth whitening could make them more visible. Hypocalcification is the loss of calcium in the tooth enamel, which leads to discoloration, according to the Journal of Conservative Dentistry. Hypocalcification is caused by exposure to too much fluoride (fluorosis), a diet high in sugar or acid, heavy plaque, and often is visable when orthodontic bands and brackets are removed. Getting rid of these spots can be difficult, as some tooth whitening procedures can cause the hypocalcified areas to appear much whiter, making the difference in color even more apparent.
Treatment Options for White Spots
You may not be able to completely erase white stains on teeth, but there are other treatments available to possibly correct the discoloration of your teeth. According to the American Dental Association, teeth whitening with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide treatments can break up stains, which can help brighten the surrounding tooth color so your white spots are less noticeable. Enamel microabrasion is another treatment that could fix this problem for cases in which white spots appear on the outermost layer of enamel, as Case Reports in Dentistry lays out. Enamel microabrasion is an abrasive treatment in which a combination of hydrochloric acid and pumice, hydrochloric acid with silica carbide particles, or phosphoric acid gel with extra fine grain pumice are used to remove stains from the outermost layer of the enamel, explains the Journal of Applied Oral Science. Check with a professional to see what will work for you.
Prevent Future Stains on Teeth
Keeping your teeth white requires regular maintenance. Stains can come back or be very stubborn. Your dentist will have you come in for future whitening treatments in addition to treating any other dental issues, like cavities. Daily care also goes a long way in preventing stains, including brushing twice a day. A whitening toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Advanced Whitening can help remove stains and make sure your teeth stay healthy and bright.
A sparkling smile is attainable with diligent brushing, professional cleanings and whitening treatments. Always check with your dentist first if you're considering any type of whitening treatments, whether at home or in office, and to discuss the best options to minimize stains and enhance your smile.