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Fluoride and Whitening

by
author image Melissa McNamara
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Fluoride and Whitening
A close up of a woman's mouth smiling. Photo Credit Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

A whiter and brighter smile is often sought after to boost self-confidence and hide your age. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7 percent of adults believe a smile is an important asset, and the popularity of teeth whitening has made a great smile available to the masses. The downfall to whitening is sensitivity, but fluoride is the sensitivity solution.

Whitener Identification

The active ingredient in both in-office and at-home whitening products is carbamide peroxide. The concentrations will vary from product to product. Fluoride prevents tooth decay; however, it does not whiten teeth. According to California Dental Association, products that contain 15 percent or more peroxide should only be administered by a professional. If your whitening regimen will be done at home, a customized tray of your mouth will be molded so you can whiten your teeth. This process can take several days to a couple weeks, according to the California Dental Association. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry recommends consulting with a professional to find the whitening treatment that is best for your circumstances.

Discoloration Causes

Items we consume, such as coffee, tea and red wine, all cause staining of the teeth. Aging also causes teeth to become a yellowish color throughout the years. Too much fluoride during teeth formation years can discolor teeth to a gray or black color, according to the California Dental Association. Although whitening can improve the appearance of all these types of discoloration, too much fluoride is the most difficult to whiten. The enamel of your tooth around a filling may become discolored, causing dental work and your teeth to be different colors. Whitening products do not change the color of dental work.

Sensitivity Solution

Sensitivity after whitening your teeth is a common problem for both professional and over-the-counter whitening treatments. Many dentists will prescribe potassium nitrate and fluoride to reduce the intensity of the sensitivity, according to Family Gentle Dental Care. Studies have shown the use of fluoride cannot prevent sensitivity; however, according to the "Journal of the American Dental Association," daily use of fluoride and the prescribed fluoride gel reduces the intensity of how sensitive your teeth become.

Over-the-Counter Warning

It is not recommended to use an over-the-counter whitening product, especially over-the-counter products that use mouth trays because the tray will not fit your teeth properly. If the tray does not fit, the whitening gel can leak, which results in gum irritation and less effective whitening, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The ineffective fit can also cause you to swallow the whitening formula.

Discoloration Prevention

Once your teeth are white, avoid consumption of items that stain your teeth. Stopping smoking is advised since this can cause a yellow discoloration of your teeth. Whitening toothpaste does not noticeably whitening your teeth; however, it is effective at maintaining the white color, according to the California Dental Association. If you prevent discoloration of your teeth, the whitening should last one to three years, according to Dental Gentle Care.

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