One of the most popular modern trends among adult dental patients is brightening their smiles, but it’s important to know that you can’t bleach teeth with cavities. Most dental professionals agree that bleaching teeth that already have cavities could cause additional and unwelcome problems such as irritation, pain, and further discoloration.
If you are thinking about getting your teeth whitened, make an appointment with a reputable Houston dentist to have a checkup and address any cavities. Although it may create an extra step in your plan for obtaining a brighter smile, it can potentially save you from unpleasant cavity-related issues.
At its most basic level, teeth whitening is a dental procedure designed to improve the appearance of an individual’s teeth by significantly brightening them. This is done via chemicals designed to remove stains on the teeth.
While teeth whitening kits can be found online or over the counter, it is recommended patients seek the professional services of a licensed Houston dentist for better and longer lasting results, as well as protection against problems with cavities.
What Is a Cavity?
A cavity is an area of decay in the tooth in the form of a hole that develops in the outer layer of tooth enamel. A cavity can damage a tooth if left unattended and can also cause extreme discomfort, sensitivity, and pain.
The most common symptoms of a cavity include:
- Pain originating in a specific tooth
- Inability to chew normally due to pain
- Discomfort or pain when eating or drinking extremely hot or cold foods or drinks
- Tooth discoloration
Why You Can’t Bleach Teeth with Cavities
When it comes to teeth whitening, most people choose either an over-the-counter product sold online or in pharmacies or grocery stores. This can be a grave mistake because in addition to teeth bleaching or whitening yielding better results when performed by a licensed dental professional, it also allows the dentist to identify and address any cavities prior to beginning the procedure.
Houston dentists that perform whitening treatments in their office typically utilize chemicals such as hydrogen carbamide and hydrogen peroxide as bleaching agents to assist with minimizing or eliminating stains or discoloration to the exterior surfaces of the teeth.
A problem can occur if these bleaching agents find their way to tooth decay in the form of a cavity. Not only could this potentially cause a patient irritation and pain, but it could also further damage the affected tooth.
Some individuals seem to be more predisposed to cavities despite limiting their intake of common offenders such as sweets, sugars, and sodas. However, it is worth noting that having a cavity does not generally preclude you from being eligible for a professional teeth whitening treatment. Although, it will likely require you have those cavities filled prior to the procedure.
Why There May Be Added Protection in Having a Dentist Perform Teeth Whitening
Most patients that choose over the counter options for teeth whitening do so because of their supposed convenience, but that may be a misguided notion.
An individual who decides to do an at home whitening treatment that has not just been to the dentist for a checkup may not be aware that they have a cavity. And while the bleaching agents in these kits tend not to be as strong as those used in a dentist’s office, they are still strong enough to be irritating or damaging to a cavity. This pain and discomfort has a way of making this option not quite as convenient as it initially seemed.
By making an appointment for a regular checkup at a dentist, patients can expect:
- Dental x-rays. Most dentists ask their patients to do dental x-rays about once a year to help protect against cavities or other complications from going unnoticed or unattended.
- A professional teeth cleaning. During this process, plaque is scraped off teeth and they are thoroughly cleaned and polished.
- Oral health evaluation. After the plaque has been scraped and the teeth have been cleaned, a dentist will do a final check and explain any important findings. If a patient has a cavity, this is typically the part of the exam where they will learn of it.
A Houston dentist can then address the cavities, set a schedule for treating the affected teeth, and proceed with the whitening procedure.
Options for Treating Cavities to Proceed with Teeth Whitening
While you can’t bleach teeth with cavities, there are a number of ways a licensed dentist may recommend correcting cavity issues. These solutions depend heavily on the state of each patient’s unique oral health and could include procedures such as:
- Composite resin. A composite resin is a material that can typically be matched to the same shade of a patient’s natural teeth. However, for a patient that is about to undergo a tooth whitening procedure, it may be a good idea to instead match the resin to the desired shade of the tooth post-whitening.
- Root canal. For cavities that have an immense amount of decay or other complications, a root canal may be needed. This often requires a crown for the affected tooth. These crowns are matched to the natural shade of a patient’s teeth, but if that individual will soon have a whitening procedure performed it can be a better idea to match the shade of the crown post-treatment.
It is essential for people to understand why you can’t bleach teeth with cavities. Fixing cavities before a whitening procedure can make for a much smoother and more pleasant process.