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Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
 PREVENT PROBLEMS
Small BoxAll About Cavities
Small BoxBrushing and Flossing
Small BoxFluoride
Small BoxMouth-Healthy Eating
Small BoxSealants
Small BoxTaking Care of Your Teeth
Small BoxTobacco
Small BoxYour Dental Visit
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 CONDITIONS
Small BoxBad Breath
Small BoxCavities
Small BoxCold Sores
Small BoxDry Mouth
Small BoxImpacted Tooth
Small BoxSensitive Teeth
Small BoxTMJ
Small BoxTooth Discoloration
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 TREATMENTS
Small BoxCrowns
Small BoxDentures
Small BoxFillings: The Basics
Small BoxGum Surgery
Small BoxImplants
Small BoxRoot Canal Treatment
Small BoxScaling and Root Planing
Small BoxWhitening
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 GENERAL TOPICS
Small BoxControlling Pain
Small BoxCosmetic Dentistry
Small BoxEmergencies
Small BoxFill, Repair, Replace
Small BoxKids And Teens
Small BoxOral Health and Your Body
Small BoxOrthodontics
Small BoxPeriodontics
Small BoxSeniors
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Step 1 Prevent ProblemsSimplestepsPrevent Problems
Step 2 Understand ConditionsSimplestepsUnderstand Conditions
Step 3 Explore TreatmentsSimplestepsExplore Treatments

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Q: My teeth are yellow. I think it is from high fluoride levels during childhood. What are the different whitening options?
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May 12, 2015
A:

High fluoride levels during childhood can cause fluorosis. This results in white spots on teeth. In severe cases, there are brown stains and the enamel becomes pitted. Your yellow teeth probably were not caused by high fluoride levels. The good news is that yellow teeth respond very well to whitening treatments.

Before deciding between in-home and in-office whitening options, you should visit your dentist to make sure you do not need any treatment for cavities or gum disease, particularly if itís been more than a year since your last check-up.

In-home, over the counter whitening strips, gels, and tray-based systems are all peroxide based. These products contain a lower strength bleaching agent that is equivalent to about 3% hydrogen peroxide. In-office whitening products have a higher concentration of peroxide (between 15% and 43%). This means that in-home products take more time to work. Some systems take a week. Others can take more than 4 weeks. It depends upon how discolored your teeth are, and how white you would like them to be.

In-office bleaching provides the quickest way to whiten teeth. The whitening product can be used in combination with heat, a special light, or a laser. Results are seen in one, 30-minute to 60-minute treatment. Even these treatments may require several sessions, depending upon the extent of discoloration and your desired level of whitening.

Whether you use an in-home system or in-office, the side effects are the same. There is a possibility that your teeth may become sensitive, but this typically lasts only 24 to 48 hours. This probably occurs more frequently with in-office whitening, because the strength of the peroxide is much higher. Your gums, particularly in the home systems, can come in contact with the gel and become burned (turn white) from the peroxide. The dentist protects the gum tissue during an in-office procedure. The burn will heal within 48 hours.

Over-the-counter bleaching systems are the least expensive option ($15 to more than $200), while in-office whitening is the most expensive ($300 to $750).

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Ask The Dentist Archives
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Cosmetic Dentistry
Dental Medications
Dentures
Endodontics/Root Canal
Fillings/Restorations
Fluoride
General Dentistry
Implants
Kids & Teens
Oral Care & Prevention
Oral Health & Your Body
Oral Surgery
Orthodontics
Periodontics
Seniors
TMJ
X-Rays
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