We’ve all seen someone with white or brown spots on their teeth. It’s such a common occurrence that perhaps you’re one of them! Even after bleaching, many patients still struggle with noticeable white blotches or brown spots. A result of demineralization or perhaps even fluorosis, these kinds of minor surface stains and texture irregularities can prove difficult to address, even with professional in-office or take-home tooth whitening. After bleaching fails, many clinicians will often turn to more invasive solutions, such as porcelain veneers or crowns, without the knowledge that there is, in fact, a conservative, safe, and clinically effective procedure that can correct and eliminate most of these surface color and texture abnormalities: enamel microabrasion.
Enamel microabrasion involves buffing and polishing the spotted or stained tooth with a mild hydrochloric acid gel containing fine-grit silicon carbide microparticles (such as Ultradent’s Opalustre 6.6% hydrochloric acid slurry), using polishing cups (such as OpalCups) attached to a low-speed/high-torque handpiece. Without eliminating any noticeable or significant tooth structure, this microabrasion procedure gently removes unsightly white and brown decalcification or fluorosis spots (less than 0.22mm in depth), and smoothes, polishes, lightens, and brightens underlying enamel. In addition to a highly esthetic appearance, the newly microabraded, smooth surface makes the tooth more resistant to future acid damage and plaque buildup, contributing to the overall long-term health of the tooth.
Dr. Jaimeé Morgan, an avid believer in minimally invasive dentistry and tooth whitening, often pairs the use of Opalustre with take-home or in-office whitening treatments for optimal results. “Opalustre is one of those products that is way underused, and yet, it does such a tremendous job at ramping up and aiding the whitening or bleaching process. A lot of patients have white teeth, but they’ll also have little white or brown spots that are difficult to get rid of with traditional bleaching products. Opalustre gets rid of those stains.”
Although enamel microabrasion is safe for the tooth and doesn’t require anesthetic, it is imperative to isolate the intended area prior to the procedure in order to prevent possible hydrochloric acid damage to the patient’s tissues. To prevent later sensitivity, apply an in-office fluoride gel to the treated enamel for four minutes.
The availability of enamel microabrasion treatments such as Ultradent’s Opalustre provides a safe, conservative, inexpensive, and extremely effective alternative to more invasive restorative procedures for eliminating minor tooth stains and texture abnormalities. However most importantly, it affords the patient the ability, as Dr. Fischer says, “to speak and laugh with greater ease. It’s life changing!”