Here are some facts for those people who are looking for information on how they can whiten their teeth.
Tooth or teeth whitening is being done through bleaching methods and several other natural ways. It is a way of lightening the usual color of our teeth. Discoloration of the teeth often occur if you like to drink red wine, coffee and smoking. Age is also a factor here.
Although this has been very well documented, I strongly advise to follow still whatever your dentist says.
Brief information about Teeth Whitening
If you don’t know yet, there are different methods of whitening the teeth. There are natural ways of teeth whitening, tooth bleaching and teeth whitening pens too. You can personally buy your own bleaching kits and do it at the comfort of your home or you can just let your dentist do it for you. The main ingredient for bleaching is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As you apply it on your teeth, the chemicals breaks down and the oxygen gets into the enamel of the teeth that lightens the color of your teeth. Dentist can also use a laser to whiten your teeth.
As we age, it is just natural for us to have a darker teeth. It’s just normal. This process is usually often increased by drinking coffee, tea, red wine, smoking and other foods and drinks that has strong colorings. The most dominant of them all that causes teeth discoloration is smoking. It can make your teeth look yellow. Teeth discoloration also occurs if you have tooth decays, fillings and tar tar.
The tooth becomes darker once the nerves and the blood vessels in teeth are damaged through decay or a knock.
Some tooth staining could also be caused by diseases or medicines. As an example of this is, if an antibiotic (tetracycline) is given to a child whose teeth are still developing, their adult teeth may form yellow or green tinge.
Alternatives to Teeth Whitening
We have written several articles here on how you can improve the color of your teeth. Feel free to check them out but as an addition to those tips that we had, you can also do this.
- Teeth scaling and polishing to remove tar tar that has built up overtime really helps a lot. Consult your dentist about it.
- You read a while ago on what causes discoloration, it’s all up to you really.
- Brushing. Regularly. Not once, not twice a day but on a regular consistent basis for 365 days a year.
- Asking your dentist on how to prevent tooth decay. This helps a lot.
Whitening toothpaste can remove surface staining but they don’t actually alter the natural color of the teeth. Experts are still reviewing if tooth whitening toothpastes are effective.
Dentist can also replace metal fillings and crowns with tooth colored ones. You might need to check this too.
Porcelain which is usually a thin layer of tooth colored material is fitted over a discolored tooth.
On your first visit to your dentist, he may have a local anesthetic injection to numb your tooth. Sometimes it’s not necessary. The surface of your tooth can become thick because of the veneer, just bear in mind that this is an irreversible process. Your dentist will have a mould of your tooth and this is sent to a laboratory where the veneer is made by a dental technician. This usually takes two weeks and while you’re waiting, you will feel a slightly roughened sensitive tooth.
The dentist will then bond the veneer onto the front of your tooth on your second visit.
Veneers can last for many years but can be damaged through accident. Veneer’s edge is fragile so do not bite any hard food or materials on it, specially nail biting, ice or tearing a sticky tape using your teeth.
Advise about Tooth Whitening
The best person to ask is your dentist about different bleaching method. They surely know which one will be most effective for you. They examine the color of your teeth and determine the bleaching method to use. They also consider your skin complexion so that the treatment looks more natural.
Don’t try home kits yet. You have to know if you have damage nerves that causes discoloration. You’ll probably need a much stronger product that professionals only use.
Keep this in mind too. If you have a tooth colored filling or a bonding material on your teeth, bleaching will not work and if you do it will probably result in a much different color. Veneers may work better than bleaching if that is the case.
Over the counter teeth whitening kits. They are sold literally to almost major pharmacies across the country. It usually has rubber mouth trays – this are moulds that are approximately the same size of your teeth and bleaching gel tubes.
How to use? Squeeze the bleaching gel unto the mouth tray and place it on your teeth for thirty minutes. The dominant ingredient on this gel is hydrogen peroxide but they are less in value as compared to what stronger products that your dentist may use.
Always check the packaging for the level of hydrogen peroxide. The allowed content of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide is 0.1% for tooth whitening products.
Professional Tooth Bleaching
This can only be done by dentists before but as long as your dentist recommended that you can have the procedure, dental hygienists and dental therapists are also able to carry out tooth whitening.
These are also some of the techniques for tooth whitening.
External Tooth Bleaching
This is done by placing the bleaching gel on the outer surface of the teeth. Procedures that use this technique are described here.
- Home Bleaching. This one is the same to those over the counter teeth whitening kits but has two main differences. First, your dentist makes the rubber mouth tray so that it is precisely fit unto your teeth. Second, the bleaching gel for teeth whitening is much stronger and therefore much effective. Your dentist will give you proper instructions on how to do it. Like we said above about it, this needs to be worn for 30 minutes to a least 1 hour a day for two to four weeks. It usually takes 1 month to achieve the color you want. Gum irritation and tooth sensitivity are some of it’s possible side effects. This is highly recommended provided that you have consulted your dentist.
- Dental surgery ( Laser bleaching). The dentist puts a rubber seal around your teeth, this is for the protection of your gum. The bleaching gel is then placed onto your teeth and a special bright light is used. The light used here is to enhance the teeth whitening process. The overall process including preparation usually It takes two hours to complete.
- Combined bleaching aka Power bleaching. Home and surgery bleaching are used in combination. For the home bleaching process, you dentist will give you instructions. This can be done before or after the surgery and all depends on the type of treatment used.
Internal Tooth Bleaching
This is achieved by putting the bleaching product inside your tooth. This is only done if you have been successfully root treated. Rubber filling will replace the blood vessel and nerves inside the tooth.
The dentist will drill a hole at the back of your teeth if you’re working on your front teeth and then he will put the bleaching product in that hole. Most likely this is also the hole that has been used for root treatment. It will be sealed by a temporary filling to leave the bleach insde of your tooth. Don’t worry, it will not hurt because there are no more nerves inside it.
After one week, go back to your dentist to remove the filling and the bleach. If you’re satisfied with your new shade, the dentisit will then fill the whole with tooth colored filling. If not, then the process needs to be repeated.
For maximum result, it is sometimes best to combine it with other teeth whitening methods to achieve the desired effect.
How long will the Teeth Whitening last?
Teeth whitening usually last for three years but varies form person to person. You see, you still have to prevent those cause of teeth discoloration. Your eating, drinking, smoking and brushing habits may have an effect on how long the treatment lasts.
Research on ‘home’ bleaching treatments prescribed by a dentist has found that for people who achieved a lighter shade, only half of them still had whiter teeth six months later. Keep in mind that bleaching isn’t always the answer to have a successfully white teeth. Discuss other options with your dentist to prolong the teeth whitening treatment.
When not to have Tooth Whitening?
Bleaching is not always recommended by dentist. If you have tooth and gum problems, this needs to be treated first before tooth bleaching or starting any teeth whitening treatmets.
If you have a very sensitive teeth, bleaching is not for you.
Some types of staining, such as tetracycline antibiotic staining, don’t respond to bleaching as well as others. Bleaching, if successful, may take longer on tetracycline-stained teeth.
Bleaching doesn’t work on false teeth, veneers, crowns or fillings. Instead, your dentist may be able to replace these with lighter ones.
Is is not advisable to pregnant and breast feeding women. Anyone under 18 years of age are encouraged not to have bleaching too.
Side Effects of Tooth Whitening
- Temporary sensitivity to hot and cold water.
- Sore throat.
- Tender gums and white patches on your gums.
These should disappear after a few days. If not, consult your dentist.
There is no evidence to suggest that tooth bleaching is harmful to the gums, but it isn’t clear what the long-term effect on the nerves and blood vessels inside the teeth are.