Cosmetic Dentistry - Tooth Whitening
Tooth Whitening is the latest craze and it is becoming increasingly popular to whiten your teeth. Whether you go for tooth whitening because you are self-conscious of yellowed teeth from eating, smoking, drinking coffee, wine or teas, or if you just want to brighten your smile, tooth whitening is a sure way to and gain confidence in your smile. Below is more information on the different types of tooth whitening products and procedures you could consider to get your bright smile back!
What is Tooth Whitening?
Tooth whitening is in the class of cosmetic dentistry. The tooth whitening process eliminates staining and marks on the teeth, and can also brighten the natural shine of the teeth. The degree of improvement will depend upon how badly the teeth are stained as well as the nature of the stains. When teeth are brown or yellow due to coffee, tea, or smoking, stains will normally improve four to five shades. Teeth that are grey due to natural pigmentation or antibiotics use will improve by two to three shades. In any case, your teeth will be evidently brighter after the teeth whitening procedure. While there are many of teeth whitening methods available from supermarkets and chemists that make various claims, only a professional dentist can advise the best teeth whitening program for you.
How does teeth whitening work?
The bleaching agent used is typically hydrogen or carbamide peroxide which breaks down into oxygen molecules; these molecules go into the tiny pores of the enamel on your teeth and break up the stains that block out the light; gradually as the stains are broken into smaller bits, more light can pass through the teeth making them look brighter. Stains that are accumulated over time that are yellow to slightly brown will accomplish best results. Teeth that are dark brown to blue-gray are the most difficult to bleach because the stain is intensely rooted into the tooth. These types of stains are usually caused by medications taken during the development of the teeth such as tetracycline, and can take up to six months for the full results to be known.
Depending on the bleaching agent used during the teeth whitening and the length of time the whitening gel it is worn on the teeth, results should be seen within an hour, overnight or within three to four days, depending on your teeth. Complete results can be achieved in as little as a week or as much as several months depending on the stains. The whitening practice may last for up to three years -- even longer in some cases, depending on personal habits, if you have been a smoker then stopped your whitening will last for longer that you would expect.
Tooth Whitening at the Dentist:
During the procedure for laser and power teeth bleaching, a dentist begins by applying a shielding material to your gums and lips so the whitening product only goes on the teeth. The bleaching product – usually containing hydrogen peroxide - is applied directly to the teeth; then a high intensity light is pointed at the teeth and starts the bleaching agent working, causing the whitening product to release the oxygen molecules. Treatments for both power and laser teeth whitening can take as little as quarter of an hour, or up to one to two hours.
These techniques work well for a single discolored tooth too. If the tooth has become dark due to trauma but has not had a root canal, the whitening product is placed on the outside of the tooth. If the tooth has had a root canal, the whitening product can be placed on the outside as well as the inside of the tooth. Leaving a whitening product inside the tooth and sealing the opening is referred to as “walking bleach”. The solution inside the tooth for a “walking bleach” is changed about once a week. Results for this do take longer to show but you don’t have to do any home maintenance.
Home Tooth Whitening:
Home tooth whitening is performed in your own home, under the indirect supervision of a dentist. At the first appointment, the dentist takes impressions of the patient’s teeth and then creates a perfectly fitted mouthpiece. This mouthpiece will allow the patient to apply a bleaching solution to the teeth while protecting the rest of the mouth from contact with the whitening products.
The concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in the gel is not as strong as that used in power or laser bleaching procedures. No strong light source or laser is needed to activate the bleaching agent. Instead, it is contact with something organic, in this case the teeth, which causes the gel to release oxygen. In most cases, home bleaching can take from one to three weeks to achieve maximum results. During this time, the dentist may want to check the progress of the treatment.
Side Effects of Tooth Whitening:
Use of Teeth whitening products can produce side effects such as increased tooth sensitivity to pain in the gums, tongue and other soft mouth tissues. Over bleaching can also occur; the result will be a translucency that may appear gray from the shadows of the mouth. Only a very low percentage of people who whiten their teeth will experience this, and it will only happen if the whitening process is over-extended. It is best to check with your dentist to avoid encountering this problem.
With home bleaching, there is a small risk of swallowing the tooth whitening product. The chances of this occurring are relatively small since your bleaching tray should fit almost perfectly around your teeth. If the gel is swallowed, it may result in nausea, vomiting or burning. If this happens you should contact a doctor immediately.
Another option for badly stained teeth is a set of porcelain teeth veneers.