Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental treatment that involves removing surface stains and discoloration from the teeth. This procedure has become increasingly common as people strive for brighter, more radiant smiles. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of teeth bleaching, the benefits and risks associated with the treatment, and how to maintain a whiter smile.
Types of Teeth Whitening
Teeth bleaching can be done with two methods:
In-office teeth whitening
This teeth whitening method is typically performed by a dental professional in their office using specialized chemicals with a high concentration and short duration. The process typically involves the dentist applying an acid solution, known as etching, to the teeth before applying an oxidizing agent to the tooth enamel. The teeth are then exposed to an intense light or laser, commonly referred to as laser tooth whitening. A complete whitening treatment using this method typically requires three to four sessions, each lasting approximately 30 to 60 minutes.It’s important to choose a dentist who has the necessary expertise in this field to minimize any potential sensitivity or discomfort, such as gum pain or toothache. To protect the gums from coming into contact with oxidizing substances, the dentist will often use protective gels and fix them in place on the teeth with a blue light during the bleaching process. The cost of teeth bleaching in a dental clinic is typically higher than at-home treatments, and can vary depending on the specific materials used for the whitening procedure.
At-home teeth whitening
This teeth whitening method, known as at-home bleaching, is performed under the supervision of a dentist and can be done by the individual themselves. The materials used for this method differ from those used in a dentist’s office. The process typically involves the dentist creating a mold of the individual’s teeth, which is then used to create a plastic tray, or night guard, in a laboratory. The night guard is then filled with a bleaching gel and placed onto the teeth.
The length of time that the mold should be worn on the teeth typically ranges from one to six hours per day, depending on the individual’s teeth condition. The entire treatment period takes approximately one to two weeks for each jaw, as the mold should only be placed on one jaw at a time. It’s important to note that this method requires patience. For individuals who do not have enough time and wish to undergo teeth whitening quickly, it is recommended to opt for the in-office method. At-home teeth bleaching is typically less expensive than the in-office procedure.
Benefits of Teeth Whitening
- Improved Confidence: One of the most significant benefits of teeth whitening is improved confidence. A bright, white smile can boost your self-esteem and make you feel more confident in social situations.
- Better Oral Hygiene: People who have had their teeth whitened often report that they are more motivated to maintain good oral hygiene. This can lead to a reduction in cavities and gum disease.
- A Youthful Appearance: Teeth naturally darken with age, so having a whiter smile can make you look younger and more vibrant.
Risks of Teeth Whitening
- Tooth Sensitivity: One of the most common side effects of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity. This can occur during and after the treatment and can be exacerbated by hot or cold temperatures.
- Gum Irritation: Some people may experience gum irritation or sensitivity as a result of the teeth whitening treatment. This can be alleviated by using a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide or by shortening the treatment time.
- Uneven Results: Teeth whitening may not result in even coloration across all teeth. This can be due to differences in enamel thickness or previous dental work.
What are the materials used in teeth whitening?
The primary chemicals used in teeth whitening are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is typically used in dental offices or by dental professionals, while carbamide peroxide is often used for at-home treatments. However, it’s important to note that both methods should only be performed with the approval and guidance of a cosmetic dentist, and individuals should never attempt teeth bleaching without proper knowledge and understanding of the procedure.
How do these chemicals whiten teeth?
Bleaching chemicals work by penetrating the crystalline structure of the teeth and oxidizing the pigments that have accumulated on the teeth over time. This process results in a brighter appearance of the tooth’s dentin. It’s important to note that due to the chemical nature of these substances, they should never come into contact with the gums or face.
In recent years, there has been an influx of teeth whitening powders available on the market. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that these products can have negative side effects and cause serious damage to the mouth and teeth. For instance, they may cause wear and loss of tooth enamel layers. Therefore, it’s crucial to only use products that have been approved by cosmetic dentists to ensure the safety and efficacy of the teeth whitening procedure.
Care after teeth bleaching
- Start your day by cleaning your gums with warm water. Gently massage your gums to prevent gum pain and inflammation.
- Avoid smoking and hookah, as these habits can stain your teeth and harm your overall oral health.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with warm water to maintain good oral hygiene.
- For the first 24 hours after teeth whitening, avoid consuming foods and beverages that contain pigments, such as soft drinks. If these substances come into contact with your teeth, rinse your mouth immediately.
- Limit your consumption of drinks such as strong tea and coffee, as they can stain your teeth.
- Avoid eating very cold foods immediately after teeth bleaching, as they may cause sensitivity.
- Use an anti-allergic toothpaste for the first few days after teeth whitening to minimize sensitivity.
- Schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist one week after teeth whitening for a necessary examination.
- Opt for colorless drinks such as milk and water after teeth whitening.
- Choose fruits such as peeled bananas and apples, which are less likely to stain your teeth.
- Incorporate foods like rice, pasta, bread, and baked potatoes into your diet.
- Include dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and cream in your diet, as they are rich in calcium and other nutrients that are essential for good oral health.
Natural teeth whitening
Natural teeth whitening methods involve the use of ingredients found in nature, such as baking soda, activated charcoal, and coconut oil. These methods are generally considered safe, but the effectiveness can vary widely depending on the individual.
Frequently asked questions about teeth whitening
1) Which Teeth Whitening Method is Better: In-Office or At-Home?
If you’re considering teeth whitening, one of the questions you may have is which method is better: in-office or at-home bleaching? The answer to this question depends on your individual circumstances, such as the level of staining, tooth discoloration, your budget, and your personal preference. Here’s what you need to know about each method to help you decide which one is right for you.
2) How long does the effect of tooth bleaching last?
The longevity of tooth bleaching results can vary depending on a person’s oral hygiene and dietary habits. Individuals who consume fewer foods and drinks that contain pigments, such as coffee or soft drinks, tend to maintain their bleaching results for a longer time. However, typically, the brightness of the teeth starts to diminish after about 3 years, which may require a follow-up visit for re-bleaching.
3) Does teeth bleaching have side effects?
It is important to note that although teeth whitening is generally considered safe, it can have some side effects. The most common side effect is temporary tooth sensitivity, which can occur during or after the bleaching process. Some people may also experience gum irritation or discomfort. In rare cases, overuse or misuse of bleaching products can cause permanent damage to the teeth or gums. It is important to consult with a cosmetic dentist before undergoing any teeth bleaching procedure to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs.
4) Is tooth whitening light harmful?
It should be noted that the use of blue light during tooth bleaching is generally considered safe and does not pose a significant risk of harm to the patient. The light helps to activate the bleaching agent and speed up the process, but it does not penetrate deeply into the teeth or cause any damage to the surrounding tissues. However, it is important to follow the instructions of the dentist or dental professional and not to overuse the light, as prolonged exposure can cause temporary sensitivity or discomfort.
5) Can pregnant women bleach their teeth?
In all teeth whitening methods, chemicals are used, and there is a risk of compromising the health of the mother and the baby. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid teeth whitening during pregnancy. There is not enough research confirming the safety of teeth whitening during pregnancy, so it is best to wait until after the baby is born and weaned before considering teeth whitening.