Whitening Q&A with Celeb Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Kevin Sands

Dr. Sands clients include royals, celebrities and influencers.  Below he shares the latest info on whitening up. 

What makes bleaching/whitening challenging?

Crowns and implants do cause challenges.  The only real option is veneers.  If out of budget, bonding can be done but can be more prone to chipping and discoloration.  People with white calcium stains are not candidates for whitening because the white stains become even whiter.   Enamel hypoplasia- those with not very much enamel will not get the best results.  The enamel is the part that actually whitens teeth. Tetracycline stains are also very common and difficult to treat.  Sensitivity should not be an issue with today’s advances in whitening.  My office offers a special desensitizer gel that is applied before whitening to seal dental tubules and minimize sensitivity. Veneers are ideal because they don’t stain ever and can also correct a variety of other issues like crooked teeth and shape etc.

Do teeth change with age?

Teeth get yellower with age.  Not only are they constantly being stained for that many more years- but more wear and tear with grinding and you lose more enamel over the years (the white part of the tooth).     White strips, whitening toothpastes and whitening mouthwashes (even whitening floss!) are good options for those with minimal stains.   Then opt for in-office treatments.  Every 6 months is a good option and then you can supplement with at-home bleaching trays if you need more whitening coverage.  

Do any foods enhance whitening effects?

Although there are many foods and drinks out there that can stain your teeth, there are also those foods that can help prevent discoloration. In fact, some common fruits and vegetables, work to clean your teeth as you eat them.  Another beneficial factor of maintaining a healthy diet is the added saliva they produce. Saliva helps clean our teeth of bacteria and neutralizes acids to clean your mouth. Some of these stain preventing fruits and vegetables include: Carrots, Celery, Apples and Cauliflower.  Apples are high in acid which make it ideal for whitening. The skin of the apple is rich in natural fiber and helps scrub teeth- if a coffee drinker, eating apples can help brighten teeth. Biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering levels of bacteria.  Eating an apple creates an effect similar to a toothbrush because of the presence of fiber-rich flesh and skin. Eating apples regularly helps remove plaque and stains from the teeth.  Eating an apple also helps get rid of any food particle sticking to your gums and crevices of your teeth. In fact, apples and carrots are hailed as mini-toothbrushes because of the various cleansing effect they have on the teeth. And avoid strainers. While dark colas are an obvious stainer, light colored beverages like Mountain Dew and Sprite are also culprits.  These drinks are acidic and chromogen-rich causing significant staining.    While red wine obviously stains, white wine features more acidity, again softening the tooth enamel and setting the stage for staining. 

Any great lesser known whitening tips or tricks?

In office whitening is at its best with targeted treatments that whiten in minutes. At-home options have vastly improved though, notes Sands.  There are now whitening mouthwashes that prime the teeth before brushing.  When combined with a whitening toothpaste, its effect is maximized.  And believe it or not, your lipstick can really impact the look of your teeth.  1.         WINE ON! While most know that red wine stains teeth the wine shade of lipstick is actually the most flattering and helps teeth look brighter and whiter by reflecting off the wine shade to boost contrast. 2.    GET GLOSSY! Shiny, nude glosses reflect against graying enamel, creating an illusion that teeth are shinier than they are. 3.   RED HOT! Red looks right on. BUT the shade must be blue-based. The blue counteracts with yellow in the enamel, making teeth appear instantly whiter. Bright orange and yellow-toned reds seen in the pages of any J. Crew catalog but the coral and tomato shades have yellow-orange undertones, and work to play up the yellow in teeth. 4.          AVOID pale pinks, frosts and mattes.  These formulas accentuate stains and make teeth look dull. 

And be consistent with tried and true whitening tips like:

•        Brushing with a Sonicare brush to really exfoliate stains from teeth.

•        Utilize a whitening toothpaste and whitening mouthwash.  There are even whitening flosses!

•        White Strips for home-use are great for in-between professional stain treatments.

•        Avoid coffee, teas, red wine and colas which stain teeth.

•        Chomp on apples which can help keep teeth healthy and bright.

•        Porcelain Veneers are the ultimate teeth fixer.  They don’t stain and can correct shades, shape, crooked teeth and more. 

What are the major whitening treatments (laser? mouth tray? paint on?) and who do they work best for?

Laser whitening is the most effective treatment.   The special lights activate and whiten teeth the brightest level. Mouth Trays- we usually do take home bleaching trays- for people out of town or touch-ups.  These are customized in my office with trays that are made with compression to fit teeth.  It’s important to note that some at-home trays are not a good idea because the trays don’t fit teeth properly and won’t protect the whitening agents from reaching the gums. 

Paint -on options are less effective because it doesn’t stay on the teeth as well and doesn’t stay on as long to bleach to the level desired. White strips have come a long way with a variety of options out there for at-home use.

How often does one need to do these treatments?

My clients will come in for the laser whitening every 6 months, and if celebrities- sometimes every 3-4 months. At home trays couple times a year and white strips as needed.

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