Dr. Bergquam Newberg Dentist - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ

Should I bleach my teeth?

There is no known long term problems known with home bleaching products. However, composites (tooth colored fillings) will not change color with bleaching. It is recommended that you have your dentist check for any tooth colored fillings to avoid them appearing darker when your teeth lighten. Some people will have increased cold sensitivity that usually is short term and is helped by using desensitizing toothpaste. Rarely some people will have irritated gums, lips, or throat from bleaching agents. These usually resolve themselves in a few days after discontinuing their use.

Do over the counter bleaching agents work?

Typically whitening agents in toothpaste have little effect on the color of teeth. They don’t stay on the teeth long enough to be very effective. The white strips and trays are quite effective. The trays that are made in dental offices normally will shorten the length of time you need to bleach your teeth by a few days, and some people find them less troublesome. However, they are generally more expensive and time consuming initially since impressions need to be taken in the dental office.

Are amalgam (mercury containing) fillings safe?

Dental amalgams have been around for over 150 years and are the most thoroughly studied and tested fillings in use. They are composed of elemental liquid mercury (43-54%) and an alloy powder made up of silver, tin, copper, and sometimes small amounts of zinc, palladium, or indium. They are long lasting and relatively inexpensive to place. The American Dental Association, FDA, and World Health Organization all have concluded that amalgams are safe and effective for restoring teeth. There are rare incidences of allergies to a component of the fillings.

As for the mercury poisoning: everyone has a small amount of mercury in their bodies, but the presence of dental amalgams has not been shown to raise the amount with any clinical significance. The article written by the nonprofit consumer protection organization, the NCAHF in 2002, is a great reference for an overview of amalgam fillings and has a nice list of references for even further review: http://www.ncahf.org