Who does not want sparkly white teeth and a great smile? White teeth boost the confidence and appearance of a person and for this reason teeth whitening is one of the most common dental procedures performed across the world.
Teeth can lose their colour and shine due to aging, dental issues, trauma to the mouth, prolonged medications etc. Sometimes genetics is also known to play a role. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking wine, using tobacco can also change the colour of the teeth.
Teeth whitening is one of the most affordable cosmetic procedures that brings in marked changes in the appearance of the teeth. This procedure can be repeated as and when needed. While teeth whitening is a relatively safe and painless procedure, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from your dentist before trying it.
How does the procedure work?
The type of stains on the teeth plays a role in determining what the treatment procedure should be like. The stain is checked by the dentist before starting the procedure.
There are three types of stains
- intrinsic stains
- extrinsic stains
- age related stains
In the intrinsic stain category, the teeth discolouration happens inside the teeth – in the region of dentin. The dentin gets darker or gets a yellow shade. These stains are more difficult to remove and can be caused by trauma to the mouth, prolonged medications etc.
The extrinsic stains are those found on the teeth exterior and are comparatively easier to remove. It is the dental enamel that changes colour due to lifestyle and diet of coffee, wine or habit of smoking.
The last category of age-related stains is a combination of both the stains. Lifestyle habits change the colour of the dental enamel and the inner layer also turns yellowish due to aging.
During the treatment, the stains are removed by applying bleach to them. The peroxide contained in the material that is used for the procedure will lighten the stains.
The amount of the whitening agent in the products varies, and so also the end effect that is obtained. The bleaching agent that is used in the dental clinic is much stronger than what is available over the counter.
Your dentist is a professional who knows how to apply the chemical safely to obtain maximum effect. For this reason, many people prefer to do the whitening procedure at the dental clinic.
Types of teeth whitening procedures
Here are a few different ways in which teeth can be whitened.
Teeth whitening strips are easy to use among the whitening products. They can be bought easily in drugstores.
These strips come with non-slip adhesives that help them stay in place on the teeth. They are applied to the teeth, both in the upper jaw and lower jaw. The side of the strip that comes in touch with the teeth contains the peroxide that works on the stains. These strips need to be left in place for some time as is mentioned in the instructions on the box.
Depending on the products, they need to be used for some days to get the desired effect. The teeth will stay bright and sparkly for about 3-4 months. There are some different types of strips available with varying amounts of peroxide available as some are sensitive to them. It is best recommended to check with the dentist before trying any new product on the teeth.
Trays are typically more effective, when compared with whitening strips. The trays are filled with whitening gels and they can be slipped into your mouth. The teeth need to be kept immersed in the trays for the whitening material to work on the stains.
The best thing about the trays is that the whitening materials do not spill out from the trays and do not come in contact with any other oral tissues.
Whitening trays can be bought over the counter, but the downside is that these trays are not custom made and hence there is the chance of the trays not being a good fit. This may cause the whitening material spilling out and coming in contact with the gum lining, thus causing irritation. In some dental clinics, dentists provide the option of giving custom made trays for whitening the teeth. This will help tide over the issue of the trays not being a proper fit.
Toothpaste has been designed to act as whitening agents themselves. While keeping the teeth clean, the toothpaste that has the peroxide content in them, helps remove some amount of stain from the teeth as well.
Unlike the other products, the effect from using the toothpaste is not visible immediately, but when used over time the teeth will lose some amount of stain and regain their sparkle. This product is especially useful for stains caused by food/drinks.
Like toothpaste, there are mouth rinses available with whitening agents in them that helps remove stains from the teeth. If unsure of the different products available, it is best to check with the dentist about which product will be suitable for you.
Whitening at the dental clinic
This is the safest way to whiten your teeth.
Teeth whitening is not a time-consuming procedure and can be completed in a short amount of time at the dental clinic. At the clinic, the process is speeded up by combining it with applying light/heat during the process.
While at the clinic, there is no concern if the whitening material gets in contact with the oral tissues, as your dentist is right there by your side. If the process is done at home, it is important the instructions provided on the cover of the product is followed carefully.
Depending on how severe the stains are, the type of stains that a person has-one can choose from the different products available. The result from each product varies and each product or method has its advantages. It is best to discuss the choice that is best suited by having a dental consultation with the dentist and choosing the method that will bring in better results.