If you are unhappy with the color of your teeth, you may be considering calling your dentist and making an appointment for a teeth-whitening procedure. But while teeth whitening is an effective, safe option for most patients, it is often worth it to first make an appointment to have your teeth cleaned. Here's a closer look at teeth cleaning and why it's best to wait until after your cleaning appointment to schedule a teeth-whitening procedure.
What Does Teeth Cleaning Do?
A professional teeth-cleaning procedure, known as prophylaxis, is more than a glorified tooth brushing session. Your dental hygienist removes tartar from your mouth with special tools. Tartar is a hardened form of plaque that forms when you don’t remove the plaque from your teeth with regular brushing.
Many patients develop plaque along the gum line and where the teeth border each other, typically called the margins of teeth, because these areas are hard to brush thoroughly.After your hygienist is finished removing the tartar, they will use a special spinning tool to polish the surfaces of your teeth. Usually, cleaning appointments and dental checkups are scheduled concurrently, so the dentist will then look over your mouth for signs of cavities, oral cancer, gum disease and other abnormalities.
Why Should You Always Have Your Teeth Cleaned Before Having Them Whitened?
Tartar has a yellowish color, and once it is removed from the teeth, and the teeth are polished, those teeth tend to appear whiter. Especially if you only have mild discoloration, there is a chance that once you have your teeth cleaned, they will actually be white enough to satisfy your desires.
While teeth cleaning is a preventative treatment, which is often covered by dental insurance, teeth whitening is purely cosmetic, and most dental insurance plans don't cover it. It's worth your while to start with a cleaning appointment that’s covered by your insurance and see if that treatment yields satisfactory results before you pay out of pocket for a whitening procedure.
Since your dentist will generally conduct a checkup after your teeth are cleaned, this is also a good chance to ask if your teeth are healthy enough for whitening. Though whitening procedures are safe for most patients, they may not be recommended if you have sensitive teeth or gum disease.If you are not a candidate for whitening, it's better to find out at your cleaning appointment than after you've already scheduled a whitening treatment.
What Does the Teeth-Whitening Procedure Involve?
If after your cleaning appointment you decide that your teeth are still too yellow or stained for your liking, then you can talk to your dentist about whitening options.
It's important that you realize that whitening your teeth won't make them any healthier. Yellow teeth can be perfectly strong and healthy. However, whitening your teeth can give you confidence and help you enjoy smiling again, which may prompt you to take better care of your teeth in the future.
Tooth-whitening procedures usually happen across two dental appointments. During the first appointment, your dentist will make a mold of your mouth. This mold will be used to make custom trays, which will be delivered and fitted to you at your second appointment.
Following your second appointment, your dentist will send you home with the trays, a whitening solution and careful instructions as to how to use these tools. Generally, you'll need to wear the trays (filled with the solution) for about 30 minutes a day for a few weeks. When the whitening period is over, you can expect your teeth to be several shades whiter.
If you are unhappy with the color of your teeth, make an appointment for a professional cleaning, and go from there. Many patients are much happier with the color of their smiles after a basic cleaning, and if you do end up choosing to go with a whitening treatment, the cleaning appointment gives you a chance to check with your dentist whether you'll be a candidate for whitening.
Contact Town Center Family Dental to make an appointment today.