Why do my teeth have white stains after whitening?

Teeth whitening is one of the most common general cosmetic dentistry treatments that we offer at all of our Martindale Dental clinics.  It’s super popular amongst our patients and for good reason; it really works to bring brightness back to a smile that’s lost its lustre.  It’s also a fairly cost effective, non-invasive treatment, and you’ll only have to spend a couple hours in the dentist chair, instead of requiring multiple appointments.  Martindale dental teeth whitening is great used as a touch up tool and can be paired with take-home whitening trays to further enhance the results.

Our patients are almost unanimously thrilled with their teeth after a whitening but there is one main thing we get asked about after the treatment is complete.  That is why their teeth show patchy or streaky white marks immediately after whitening.  Let us explain why the is.

To explain, we won’t go over the entire whitening procedure and begin with the last few steps, or the clean up if you will.  Basically, once the whitening treatment is completed, your hygienist removes the UV light (the whitening gel is UV activated), takes out the whitening mouthguard and cleans off the gel.  They will then show you your new smile in the mirror, at which point some of our patients notice that something doesn’t look quite right.

“What are those white lines I can see on my teeth?”, they ask, with a worried look on their faces.  Undoubtedly, we agree, as it can be surprising and unsettling to see your teeth looking this way, especially when you were expecting an improved smile, not further damage.

Luckily, there’s nothing to worry about! The white patchy, streaky, or lined look of teeth after whitening is normal.  This happen because the whitening gel that is used to professionally whiten your teeth (in-office treatment), is quite powerful and contains hydrogen peroxide.  This will dehydrate your tooth enamel, causing it to exhibit bright white patches.  However, it’s normal, disappears in time and won’t cause any harm to your teeth or oral health.

Dehydration is part of the process that happens as the bleaching gel permeates through the enamel of your teeth to reach the dentin layer below where the staining and discolouration have occurred over time.  That’s where the gel needs to get to do its work, but as a side effect it can leave teeth temporarily looking less than perfect.  To reiterate, don’t worry – it’s only temporary dehydration.

If you’re interested in speaking with your dentist about teeth whitening, don’t hesitate to give our office a call or ask about it during your next checkup appointment.  It’s important that you as a patient are informed about what the treatment entails and that your dentist can check your teeth to make sure teeth whitening is safe for you.

 

Dehydrated enamel doesn’t only happen during whitening, in fact it can occur if your body is dehydrated in general, which is why some people may notice little white streaks in their teeth in the morning or if they haven’t been drinking enough.  The level of streakiness is of course increased after whitening but it will go away in a couple of days. 

 

What can you do to help rehydrate tooth enamel?

 

 

The enamel of your teeth is porous and will naturally soak up the hydration it needs on its own.  However, you can help the process along by making sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water over the next few days but stay away from coloured liquids (and foods).  Water is always best, but it’s especially important after whitening to stick to clear liquids only for a few days while the pores in your enamel reseal the barrier, otherwise stains can re-enter the dentin layer very easily and undo all the work the whitening treatment just did.

We also recommend using a high mineral toothpaste such as Sensodyne Repair, so that your teeth have an ample supply of the stuff they need to rehydrate properly.  It can really help speed up the process.

Most patients report that the white streaks in teeth after whitening are much less visible the next day after treatment and are gone two days later.

 

What if the white streaks don’t go away?

 

In rare cases, the white patches or streaks can remain prominent and don’t go away.  If this happens then there could be another issue at play, like thinning tooth enamel, which would mean the streaks were already present in the tooth enamel prior to the treatment, and whitening has just made them more noticeable.  This issue is something that your dentist or hygienist will have discussed with you prior to booking a whitening appointment.  That’s why a consultation is required for all patients before a whitening appointment can be booked.  We also check for gum recession, thinning enamel or other tooth decay issues that could cause side effects during or after whitening.

Another reason that white lines can appear in teeth is Hypocalcification, a process which usually precedes a cavity formation.  This is the demineralization of teeth cause by bad diet (lots of sugar) and bad dental hygiene.  The acid which is produced by excess bacteria on your teeth begins to weaken the enamel, causing white craze lines to develop in the process.

 

Treatment options for white lines or spots that don’t go away

 

White lines or spots that are not caused by dehydration do happen, and to get rid of them you’ll need to visit a cosmetic dentist.  A consultation appointment is necessary but typical treatment options include dental bonding and dental veneers.  Both of these options work by covering up the front facing side of your teeth, so that any imperfections are hidden.  These options will also work to strengthen weak teeth and reduce tooth sensitivity caused by thinning enamel.

 

Are you interested in teeth whitening?

 

If you’re interested in speaking with your dentist about teeth whitening, don’t hesitate to give our office a call or ask about it during your next checkup appointment.  It’s important that you as a patient are informed about what the treatment entails and that your dentist can check your teeth to make sure teeth whitening is safe for you.

 

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