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ASK YOUR DENTIST 21 - Teeth whitening and smoking

“ Hi there,

I want to get my teeth whitened. I am a smoker, and have noticed that despite my getting hygiene treatments, my teeth are starting to become discolored. I take care of my teeth, but well, they are still turning brownish from the tar. I did some research and have seen the whitening treatments. How do they work? Do you use a laser treatment? What is a laser treatment? Please help, I am very confused, and do not know who to go to for advice,



Dear Veronica,

Smoking will do that to your teeth, and it is possible for otherwise perfectly healthy teeth to be discolored by, for instance, smoking (although tea, coffee, red fruits and cola consumption can also do the same). In this case, a tooth whitening session is necessary.

The way that tooth whitening treatments work is that they use a chemical that is placed on the tooth, which does not hurt the enamel, if it is applied for a short time. The chemical basically acts the same way that bleach does on teeth, and it dissolves the stain causing pigments, and then it is washed off and rinsed out, and that is pretty much the gist of it. The only difference is that certain tooth whitening procedures use a light as well.

Smoking teeth

The truth of the matter is that there is such a thing as tooth whitening with the help of lasers and only lasers. It is a low grade laser that basically burns the pigmentation of for the tooth enamel. It is very expensive and is only offered in a few places. The vernacular form, “laser dental treatment” refers to a different treatment though, which is pretty ironic. What is usually called laser therapy is actually the ZOOM! whitening solution that we also use at our clinic. It is a blue, ultra violet light and not a laser at all- but it does remove stains. The idea is that some of the active ingredients in the whitening solution that is placed on your teeth reacts to the ultraviolet light and intensifies while the light is shone on it, thus removing stains, but also not being as bad for your enamel, as when the light is not shown on the material, it does not react. This is what is usually called laser treatment.

I hope that does clear up all of the questions you had, and I hope you find a clinic that can help you soon. Although this is not an emergency treatment, and can be done at whatever time, because of its aesthetic and as such, nonessential nature, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be, and the longer it will take, so I do suggest acting soonish. Aside from this, it is important to note that a hygiene session will be needed before you can have a whitening session,and if you need any dental work (fillings, root canals, etc) you need to get that done before the whitening procedure, otherwise you may incur some damage to your teeth. 

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