Teeth whitening is a process by which the stains on the teeth are lessened and removed. Who doesn’t love a gorgeous white smile?
As teeth whitening becomes more common, the different options that are available also increase every year.
Two types of teeth whitening
There are two ways of getting teeth whitened.
One is getting teeth whitened professionally by your dentist in the dentist’s office and another is to get it done at home with the home-kits available over the counter.
Before you decide that you need the teeth whitening, it is a good idea to know the facts about how teeth whitening is carried out by a dental care professional and at home by individual users.
One of the important factors to know about before going for teeth whitening is the cause of stains on your teeth. The cause will tell you whether or not to get the teeth whitening done.
Reasons for discolouration of teeth
As we age our teeth also change colour. The second layer beneath the enamel on our teeth is dentine which is naturally yellowish in colour. With age, the enamel on the surface gets thinner, and more of the yellow tinge of the dentine gets visible on the teeth. There are many reasons, the most common among them is food and drink. Coffee, tea, and alcoholic drinks like red wine are majorly responsible for stains and discolouration on the teeth.
Smoking is another big reason for stains on the teeth. Nicotine and tar in tobacco cause the dark stains on the white enamel on the surface of the teeth. With injury or trauma in the mouth, your teeth are unable to get enough blood flow which makes the teeth die which in turn will turn black.
Some medications taken for cancer or depression have a side effect which makes the teeth darken. Even when unborn babies are exposed to high dosage of antibiotics in the womb, may get stains and discolouration of their teeth when they become adults.
How does teeth whitening work?
Teeth whitening works on the principle of chemical reaction taking place on the surface of the teeth and going deeper slowly. The teeth whitening products use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These ingredients work on the teeth surface by breaking up the molecules of stain and then flush the debris by oxygenation and diffusion. The reduced concentration of colour molecules, make the teeth look whiter.
Teeth whitening process is not the same for everyone and it may not work at all on some teeth. Also, there are individual differences on the kind of product to be used and also there are various concentration of the product needed for different individuals. For example, yellow teeth respond well to whitening than brown, and grey teeth may not respond at all.
Whitening can be done only on natural teeth. Crowns, veneers and artificial teeth cannot be whitened.
If the reason your teeth have become discoloured is medicine, then whitening of teeth will not work because the medicine will prevent the work of teeth whitening products and processes.
If your teeth are discoloured or stained because of factors that are external, they can be whitened with teeth whitening process, but when intrinsic factors like dentine colour is concerned, they cannot be whitened because it is genetically controlled.
Professional teeth whitening procedure
When you are wondering about getting your teeth whitened, it is very important to talk to your dentist before you decide what and how you want to go about it. You can opt for dentist’s office, or you may choose to do it at home with over-the-counter kits, but in both cases talking to your dentist is advisable.
When you decide to get teeth whitening done professionally, your dentist will give you an appointment to discuss the entire process with you. In the first visit, the dentist will take into account the condition of your teeth. He will ask you about any medicine that you are on. He will also check your teeth for any possible cavities or gum disease. He then will ask about what exactly you want from the teeth whitening process. After the initial examination he will explain how many sittings will be required for the kind of effect you want.
First, the gums will be covered with a rubber sheet so that they can be saved from the chemical effects of the solution being used on the teeth. The solution for the teeth whitening is put in a tray which is like mouthguard to be worn over the teeth. It will be kept in place for a stipulated time to allow the solution to do its work. After it is removed, the effect is measured and you may be asked to visit the office again for a second sitting. Depending on the extent of stains, and your age, you require additional sessions to get the desired effect. The whitened teeth will remain white for many months.
It is safer to do the procedure in your dentist’s office because he knows your medical history and can decide on how much or how long solution is needed to pe used to get what you want.
At-home teeth whitening
There are many options for doing teeth whitening at home. Many products are available over the counter with instructions about how to use them. Even when you are doing this at home. It is best to ask your doctor about what products are best suited to your needs, because products differ in their strength and application methods. He will guide you as to which product to use, how long it should be kept on the teeth, how many times it should be repeated, and what tools should be used.
The variety of products available for teeth whitening include, tooth pastes, gels, mouth rinses, strips, lights, and brushes.
At-home tool kits are readily available but you can ask your dentist to make you a mouthguard like tray that fits into your mouth rather than using the one supplied with kit which may not fit exactly. With the made to order tray you just have to pour the gel into the tray and wear the tray for a while during the day, or you can keep it on for the whole night. Your dentist will advise on duration because too much exposure to peroxide may irritate your teeth.
Professional teeth whitening is more time consuming and little more expensive, but the results are more durable and better than at-home teeth whitening.