If you've decided you need a tooth whitening treatment to give your smile a bit of a boost, you may choose to get this done by your dentist rather than using a home-whitening kit. Although a bleach from a dentist can be a lot more effective than one you do yourself, your dentist may hesitate to give you this kind of treatment in some circumstances.
Teeth whitening products work best if all of the teeth are the same colour and are completely natural. If your teeth aren't all the same shade or if past treatments have added dental work to the mix, then your dentist may recommend against a bleaching treatment on the basis that you won't get an evenly white result.
For example, your dentist may not recommend bleaching your teeth if you have the following problems:
- Stains on your teeth that you've had since childhood, such as marks caused by excess fluoride or high antibiotic use when you were a child.
- Work on your front teeth like fillings, bonding or crowns, which would add another material to the bleaching mix—the treatment won't change the shade of these kinds of dental treatments.
As well as looking at the cosmetic effects of a bleaching treatment, your dentist may also have other concerns about the effects that whitening might have on your mouth.
Bleaching treatments may also have negative effects on your teeth, gums and existing dental work which may make your dentist wary about whitening. For example, if you already have really sensitive teeth or if you have gum disease which is making your teeth more sensitive than usual, then your dentist may not recommend a bleaching treatment. Teeth whitening products that contain bleach can make sensitive teeth even more painful.
There is also some evidence that bleaching can affect older dental work, such as fillings. If you have a lot of old fillings, then the bleach may affect their strength. This can make some fillings looser or weaker than they were, making it easier for bacteria to get into your teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may be happy to bleach your teeth if you have other work done before or after the treatment. For example, you could have old fillings replaced after having your teeth whitened to make sure that they match. If your dentist is convinced that bleaching isn't right for you, ask about other ways you can get the same effect. For example, veneers, crowns and bonding restorations may also help make your teeth look whiter.