Teeth Whitening: Everything You Need To Know
Teeth Whitening: How It Works?
- Teeth whitening or teeth bleaching is a procedure used to lighten the teeth colour.
- Whitening is commonly required when there is staining which could be due to a wide range of reasons.
- Patients who undergo teeth whitening procedures see great results after the treatment.
- Teeth whitening does not completely change the color of teeth but it helps to lighten the shade.
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Teeth Whitening: When Is It Needed?
- Teeth whitening is usually recommended in case of tooth discolouration. There are many reasons for tooth discolouration, it could be because of regular consumption of staining food and drinks like tea, coffee, and red wine.
- In people with excessive tartar and calculus tooth discoloration can occur.
- Sometimes staining occurs under the tooth surface which could be due to tiny cracks in teeth or the use of certain antibiotics.
- Teeth whitening is usually recommended in patients who have no restorations or crowns and patients who have no gum disease.
Teeth can be discoloured or stained due to many reasons including diet, dental hygiene, medication, and even ageing. Tooth discolouration can occur over age even if the teeth are maintained properly.
There are mainly two types of tooth discolouration.
1. Intrinsic Stains – These stains occur under the tooth surface. It occurs due to trauma to teeth, excessive use of certain minerals or fluoride in toothpaste or water, ageing, etc. They can be corrected using teeth whitening procedures, but may sometimes require cosmetic dental procedures like veneers or crowns.
2. Extrinsic Stains – These stains occur on the tooth surface. It could be due to tooth abrasion, exposure to certain beverages like tea, and coffee, excessive consumption of tobacco, smoking, etc. They can usually be improved by brushing twice daily and having regular dental scalings. But in case of excessive staining one can opt for a teeth whitening procedure.
What Causes Teeth Staining?
1. Age: Ageing and tooth discolouration are directly related. As age advances the teeth start changing colour due to wear and tear. In teenagers, there is less staining because of which teeth whitening is most effective for them. In the ’40s and 50’s the teeth might have absorbed most of the stains and yellow stain usually turns brown, which is why teeth whitening in the 40s-50s is difficult, but not impossible.
2. Starting colour: We all have an inborn tooth colour that intensifies over age. Usually, teeth' colour ranges from yellowish-brown to greenish-grey. Yellowish-brown is considered to be the most responsive to teeth whitening.
3. Translucency and thinness: translucency and thinness both are genetic traits. Opaque teeth that are thick appear lighter in colour, and sparkle, and are responsive to teeth whitening procedures. Teeth that are thinner like the front teeth are transparent and less responsive to teeth whitening.
4. Eating habits: regular consumption of coloured foods and beverages like red wine, tea, and coffee can cause staining. Sometimes excessive consumption of acidic foods like citrus fruits and vinegar cause enamel erosion because of which the yellow-coloured dentine is exposed.
4. Smoking habits: Nicotine present in cigarettes cause intrinsic staining as the brownish stain from it gets absorbed inside the tooth.
5. Drugs/chemicals: Consumption of certain medicines like tetracycline during tooth formative stages can cause red ribbon-like stains that are very difficult to remove. Excessive consumption of fluoride causes teeth discolouration called fluorosis.
6. Grinding: It usually occurs due to high stress or anxiety. Excessive teeth grinding also called bruxism causes micro-cracks on the teeth and darkens the edges of the teeth.
7. Trauma: any trauma or accident can cause breakage or cracks on the teeth which can harbour stains.
What Are Your Teeth Whitening Options?
Nowadays there are many products available in the market like teeth whitening toothpaste, teeth whitening kits, teeth whitening strips, and teeth whitening gels. But getting treated by the dentist is the best and safest option.
Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
- All kinds of toothpaste help remove a little surface stains, but teeth-whitening toothpaste has additional compounds that help lighten and brighten the teeth temporarily.
- Teeth whitening toothpaste contains carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide that helps lighten the tooth colour.
- Teeth whitening toothpaste can lighten the teeth up to one shade whereas, professional in-office teeth whitening helps reduce up to 8 shades.
Over-The-Counter Teeth Whitening Strips And Gels
- Teeth whitening gels are clear gels containing peroxide. They are to be applied directly on the tooth surface.
- Instructions for their use may vary depending on the strength of the peroxide used.
- Follow the instructions mentioned precisely.
- Initial results can be seen in a few days and the final results last for around 4 months.
- Duration of full course- 10 to 14 days
- One can buy these strips and gels from their local pharmacy, dentist, or online.
- It is always advised to consult your dentist before buying and using one of them.
In-Office Teeth Whitening
- It is one of the quickest and safest ways to achieve teeth whitening.
- In this procedure teeth whitening agents are applied directly to the teeth by the dentist.
- It can be used in combination with heat, a special light, or a laser.
- Results are seen after just one- 30-60 min treatment.
- However, to achieve dramatic results in severe cases, several appointments may be required.
- This type of teeth whitening is the most recommended procedure.
What Are The Different Types Of In-Office Teeth Whitening Procedures?
- Nano Teeth Whitening
- Zoom Teeth Whitening
- Laser Teeth Whitening
1. Nano Teeth Whitening:
This is a very comfortable and painless procedure. It may take up to 1 hour for a single sitting procedure. The procedure is completely performed in a dental clinic.
First, the dentist will perform an evaluation and clean all your teeth.
Then, the lips and gums are covered carefully so that the whitening agent is applied only to your teeth.
The hydrogen peroxide gel is then applied to your teeth. Generally, three layers of teeth whitening agent are required for the procedure.
The gel layers are removed at an interval of 15 min and then activated using light.
After the last whitening gel layer is applied, a fluoride gel is applied to prevent the sensitive reactions caused by the teeth whitening agent.
Then the patient is given follow-up kits containing teeth-whitening gels and teeth-whitening strips which are to be used at home for maintenance.
2. Zoom Teeth Whitening:
This procedure takes 1 hour.
It is recommended to get a professional cleaning done before the treatment. The procedure begins by applying to isolate and protect lips and cheeks so that only the teeth are exposed.
The dentist or dental assistant then applies the zoom teeth whitening gel on the tooth surface and it is light activated for 15 min.
The gel is applied for 3 sessions of 15 min and the total treatment duration is 45 min -60min.
Individuals with a gag reflex or anxiety may find it difficult to undergo the entire procedure.
At the end of the treatment, a protective fluoride gel is applied to reduce sensitivity issues.
3. Laser Teeth Whitening:
It takes around 30-60 min for the entire procedure.
A rubber dam or mouth prop is used to keep the patient’s mouth open.
Protective eyewear is given to protect the eyes from lasers.
A light-cured resin gum barrier is added to the gums to protect them.
A bleaching agent is then added to your teeth and activated using a laser.
The laser heats the agent and activates it.
Later the gum barrier is removed and the teeth whitening agent is rinsed off.
What Are The Risks Of Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is usually considered a safe procedure, but certain risks are to keep in mind before undergoing the treatment
- Sensitivity: Teeth whitening can cause temporary sensitivity due to the high concentration of bleaching agent used. Usually, patients with weak gums, faulty restorations, and cracks are more susceptible to sensitivity. Sensitivity due to teeth whitening lasts usually up to 1-2 days, but in some patients may last for 1 month. Usually, toothpaste containing potassium nitrate is recommended after the procedure. This commonly occurs in in-office teeth whitening procedures.
- Gum irritation: Gum irritation can occur when the tray containing peroxide contacts the gums. It usually lasts for several days.
- Technicolor teeth: dental prosthetics like veneers, crowns, or restorations are not affected by teeth whitening because of which they retain their color, whereas the surrounding natural teeth are lightened resulting in a condition called “technicolor teeth.”
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Maintaining Your Results
To extend the longevity of newly whitened teeth, the following steps are to be taken.
- Using At-home teeth whitening kits or teeth whitening pastes at least once a year for maintenance
- Avoiding dark-colored foods and beverages like tea, coffee, soft drinks, etc. for at least a week after whitening.
- Using a straw to consume dark-colored beverages so that it does not come in contact with the newly whitened teeth.
- Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing twice daily.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
- The cost of teeth whitening can vary quite significantly from product to product, procedure to procedure.
- In-office teeth whitening is the most expensive procedure, teeth whitening in Dubai cost 750 AED approximately. however, the advantage of it is that it is performed by an experienced professional, and the results are seen quickly.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening strips and kits can cost somewhere between AED250 TO AED500. But dramatic results cannot be achieved using these kits as they have a lower concentration of peroxide.
Note: The Teeth Whitening Procedure Is Not a Permanent Fix. To Maintain the Whitened Teeth You Need to Maintain Them Using Teeth Whitening Kits and Having Regular Visits With Your Dentist.
Teeth Whitening: Risks
The two most common side effects of teeth whitening are
1. Increased sensitivity
2. Soft tissue irritation
- Both of them are temporary side effects that last only for 1-3 days. But if you do experience these effects, they can be reduced by taking few precautions.
- Wearing the tray for a shorter period (for example, two 30-minute sessions instead of a single 60 min session ).
- Stop whitening your teeth for 2 to 3 days to allow teeth to adjust to the process.
- Using a high fluoride-containing paste. apply it using a tray for 4 min before and after the treatment.
- Using toothpaste specifically designed to reduce teeth sensitivity which contains potassium nitrate. They help soothe the nerve endings thereby reducing sensitivity.
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FAQs About Teeth Whitening
1. Do teeth whiteners damage tooth enamel?
Many studies have shown that the use of 10% carbamide peroxide in teeth-whitening agents does not damage the enamel.
2. Do teeth whiteners damage dental restorations?
The use of teeth whitening agents containing 10% carbamide peroxide for several years has shown that they do not affect any dental restorations or prosthesis.
3. Do teeth whiteners damage a tooth's nerve?
No studies are showing a direct effect on tooth nerves due to teeth whitening. After several years of follow-up and research, none of the whitened teeth required root canal treatment