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Can Teeth Be Whitened If Enamel Is Damaged?

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A woman smiling and pointing at her newly whitened teeth

When you’re looking for a brighter, whiter smile, your dentist may recommend teeth whitening. This cosmetic treatment can benefit your teeth, but you may wonder if you’re eligible. If you have damaged enamel, can you still whiten your teeth?

Continue reading to learn more about teeth whitening, including if you can receive this treatment with damaged enamel and how teeth whitening works. 

What Is Teeth Whitening? 

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic treatment to brighten your smile, and it can improve the colour of your teeth by several shades. 

Your teeth are naturally a light grey to a yellow shade, but this colour can darken with time, depending on your lifestyle. Age, the food and drinks you consume, and habits like smoking can cause your teeth to look darker. 

Common foods that can cause staining include:

  • Berries & dark-coloured foods
  • Coffee & tea
  • Carbonated drinks like soda
  • Soy sauce, tomato sauce, & curries
  • Sports drinks

Teeth aren’t usually completely white, but many people want to feel more confident in their smile, desiring bright, stain-free teeth. Teeth whitening can help remove stubborn stains that regular dental hygiene may not fix.

You or your dentist can use peroxide-based bleach to whiten your teeth with at-home kits and in-office procedures.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work? 

The teeth whitening process is fairly straightforward. The products you use have a special chemical agent that whitens the teeth.

After applying an agent to your teeth, bleach breaks down stains into small pieces, reducing the colour. These broken-down stains help your teeth look whiter. The effectiveness of this whitening depends on the product you choose.

Does Whitening Work on All Teeth? 

Unfortunately, teeth whitening doesn’t work for all teeth. This treatment won’t affect fillings, veneers, or crowns.

Speak with your dentist if you’re curious about teeth whitening. They can explain this treatment in detail and discuss the options available to you. 

Teeth Whitening Options

You have different options when it comes to whitening your teeth. Your decision may depend on your preferences or what treatments you feel may best meet your needs.

The main difference between treatments is that in-office treatments tend to have a more powerful impact because they are completed by a professional.

In-Office Treatment 

In-office teeth whitening involves using special bleaching agents to whiten the teeth, giving you a brighter smile. Depending on your dentist, they may do this in several ways

  • A custom-made mouthguard filled with a special bleach, which you wear 
  • A special bleach is mixed into toothpaste and brushed onto your teeth

At-Home Treatment

At-home treatment is always available if you’re looking to whiten your teeth. However, speaking to your dentist before using these products is recommended. Your dentist can recommend an ideal whitening product or provide their own for you to use, keeping the health of your teeth in mind.

If removing stains is your primary goal, surface whiteners can help. These products include toothpaste and special gum with abrasives to remove stains without causing unnecessary wear on your teeth.

Regardless of the whitening treatment you pursue, can you whiten your teeth if you have problems with your tooth enamel?

A 3D image of a sparkly and healthy tooth

Can You Whiten Your Teeth If You Have Damaged Enamel? 

Your enamel is the outer protective layer of your teeth, their first line of defence. When enamel weakens or erodes, it can lead to sensitive teeth. Your enamel can erode due to your diet, medications, alcohol use, genetics, or general wear and tear. 

Almost anyone can have their teeth whitened, but your teeth may feel more irritated if you already have sensitive teeth. According to the Canadian Dental Association, tooth sensitivity and irritation to the gums can occur during teeth whitening, but these effects should be temporary. 

Your dentist can help you whiten your teeth safely. They can give you their professional opinion and recommend if this treatment is right for your needs. They’re here to help you feel confident in your final decision.

How Can You Maintain Your Teeth Whitening Results? 

Maintaining your teeth is important after your whitening treatment. It’s normal for teeth to darken or stain with time, but some foods and drinks can worsen this staining. Controlling your consumption of these foods and drinks can help limit unnecessary discolouration.

Learn More About Teeth Whitening 

While teeth whitening can help you brighten and whiten your smile, it’s beneficial to speak with your dentist first. They can explain this process in detail and teach you about the teeth whitening options they recommend.

Contact your dentist if you’re interested in teeth whitening.

Written by Dr. Matthew Rydant

Dr. Matthew Rydant graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry in 2006. That same year, he entered into private practice at Upper Gage Dental Centre.

Dr. Rydant is a general dentist who enjoys all aspects of dentistry, particularly cosmetic, family, and pediatric dentistry. If he had to choose a favourite treatment, he’d pick endodontics, more commonly known as root canals. He thrives on providing quality care in a trusting environment.

Dr. Rydant and Dr. Judith Kivinen are married with 3 children: Hazel, Noam, and Jemma. When he’s not working, you may find him on the local golf course or indulging in some delectable food.

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