Is there a process that whitens teeth and lasts for the rest of one’s life?

Teeth Whitening

Q: I heard that there is a process that whitens teeth which lasts for the rest of one’s life.  Is this true and if so, what is the cost?  Does it work on sensitive teeth and how many “applications” are necessary?  - Heidi L.

A: Great question Heidi!!  Sounds like you’re really interested in enhancing your smile or you know someone who would benefit.  If you could whiten your smile in the most permanent way with great results with a perfect color  that would minimize your visits, wouldn’t you?  The process is called veneering, and it takes just one or two visits depending on the number of teeth.

Yes, the color stability and function can be for a lifetime if you choose ceramics. Ceramic veneers are the material of choice for veneering because ceramic materials are the most resistant to staining, just like “fine china,” a true investment that lasts a life time.  We all must use our teeth to chew with and you would think that we would wear our teeth out, but the average person spends most of the time with their teeth apart and should be able to retain their natural teeth for a lifetime as well.

If you have worn out your teeth, then you may have a bruxism issue and will need to go through occlusal therapy in order to prevent further repairs in the future.  We still need to restore natural teeth as well as ceramic teeth, so a true lifetime for wear isn’t possible if you grind your teeth and you are not being treated for it. Does that mean you have to redo all the work? No, it means you just have to replace the tooth that is being most used. But for patients with only color issues, then the teeth whitening will be for a lifetime, assuming normal use and avoiding major accidents that would break a natural tooth.

The more teeth you do the better the long term results, since you’re dealing with the same material and controlling the bite pattern to make it ideal.  It’s like painting a car: you’re not going to paint one door at a time year after year. The perfect way is to do it all at once if you can; then I can control the color as well as the function and the final smile line that will match the best proportions. The adhesive process is amazing, too; it will seal the tooth so well that the tooth will not have long term tooth sensitivity and will help resist staining internally, keeping that tooth looking beautiful and more importantly keeping the tooth healthier.

Each dentist has his/her own fees and each patient has a unique smile, so I can’t suggest a specific rate, but as an investment, it would be inexpensive in the long run. I may, for the truly tough cases, fabricate two different veneers for the same tooth and choose the color that’s appropriate.

As to the question if it works on sensitive teeth, the answer is yes. I want to clarify that sensitive teeth in this context are healthy teeth that have exposed tooth structures due to fracture of the enamel and cementum walls in areas that require coverage. The process would only require a couple of visits for the entire mouth, so it truly is an inexpensive process in the long run because your time is a valuable part in the planning process.  Thanks for the great question.

If you should ever have any other dental questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We are located in West Linn and look forward to helping you achieve a long lasting bright, white smile!