Dental aesthetics are important for most individuals around the globe. People research many reliable but inexpensive options which enhance their tooth color for a brighter smile, and which consequently decreases the shade of teeth discoloration. This results in a more confident smile and better quality of life.
Teeth whitening is a process of removing extrinsic and intrinsic stains from the tooth surface and from the inside of the tooth respectively. A tooth reflects its color depending on many extrinsic and intrinsic factors such as plaque, tartar, consumption of many tannin-rich foods and drinks (coffee, black tea, wine).
Difference between Teeth Whitening and Bleaching
Teeth whitening and bleaching are often considered as synonyms, rather teeth whitening is procedure in which different techniques are performed including bleaching. Teeth can be whitened through physical (abrasive toothpaste, scaling and polishing) or chemical methods (bleaching).
Types of stains or discoloration
A thorough assessment of the patient’s oral habits will enable the dental practitioner to identify the reason for a specific type of staining. A patient should provide full disclosure regarding their regular oral habits or any other information requested by a dental practitioner. It is crucial to identify the cause of the staining so that a patient-centered whitening procedure is recommended. For example, the dentist may question the patient about the type, frequency, duration, etc., the intake of the diet, oral hygiene habits, lifestyle, occupation, tobacco consumption, and usage of any other recreational drugs, if any.
Stains could be intrinsic (inside the tooth) or extrinsic (outside the tooth, on the outside surface).
Extrinsic stains may vary in color depending on the type of staining agent. Yellow staining could be a result of plaque or tartar build-up due to poor oral hygiene. Green and orange staining could be due to chromogenic bacteria. Light to dark brown staining is the result of the consumption of various tobacco products. The spectrum of the extrinsic stains may vary depending on the usage of single to various agents.
genetics may also play a part in the intrinsic staining and natural color of the teeth. Usually, the intrinsic stains represent themselves as yellow, brown or grayish. white spots on the teeth can be seen due to fluorosis (excess amount of fluoride), demineralization and hypo calcification. Tetracycline can also be a factor, in addition to trauma and aging .
Patient selection for teeth whitening procedure
Once the cause of the teeth stains are identified, the dental professionals will recommend patient-centered whitening procedures. A thorough medical history should be performed to probe for any possible allergies, medication usage or any other health concerns. Dental history and assessment are significant to determine the oral health status of both the hard and soft tissue. The dentist will assess for tooth anatomy, type of stain, possible stain-causing agents, decay, sensitivity and teeth vitality. After the assessments are complete, dentists will qualify or disqualify the patient for whitening treatment.
Before any whitening treatment is performed, a basic procedure of scaling and polishing is necessary to remove all the debris and plaque (both supra and gingival) to stabilize the periodontal status of the patient.
Teeth Whitening options in the market.
The type of teeth whitening procedure recommended by dentists are dependent upon the health status and overall patient preference. Peroxide is the main ingredient in most whitening products which bleach the tooth surface and whiten the teeth. The degree of whitening depends on the strength (percentage) of the bleaching agent (peroxide) in the whitening product.
Over the counter methods:
Whitening toothpaste is a not bleaching product. It contains abrasive article particles or polishing agents / chemicals that remove the stains from the surface of the teeth.
Teeth whitening strips contain bleaching agents (peroxide) coated within thin plastic strips. Wearing these strips for around thirty minutes per day for two weeks may provide results for up to four weeks.
Whitening trays are available at the drug store or provided by the dentist. These clear trays, along with the gel, are usually worn for a couple of hours per day for a week until the desired effect is reached. Customized whitening trays are considered more reliable because they are fit to the individual’s teeth, also with better demonstration and patient-specific guidelines from the dentist.
In-office bleaching: Chair-side bleaching is performed by a certified dental practitioner with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide. precautions are taken to avoid gingival irritation by isolating the soft tissues. The desired shade of whitening may be achieved after one treatment or after several visits. The dentist may provide some take-home trays to use at home for better results.
In addition to the different whitening treatments, other cosmetic treatments can be provided for holistic dental care for example, porcelain veneers, crowns, bonding, and orthodontic treatment.
With all the methods of teeth whitening, please keep in mind that it is not a permanent solution for whiter teeth. However, the effects of whitening treatment can be maintained with meticulous oral hygiene. Brushing Twice a day, once in the morning 30 minutes after breakfast and once during bedtime. Daily Flossing should also be followed as one of the most important oral hygiene regimens. Regular dental or dental hygiene visits should be scheduled as per your oral health status.
In addition to oral hygiene, stain producing habits should be reduced to prolong the effectiveness of the teeth whitening treatment. For example, decrease alcohol, red wine and soda consumption, smoking, and other stain causing ailments. Also, it is best to have ADA seal whitening products for the treatment from reliable and specialized dental practitioners.