Teeth whitening or tooth bleaching is the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure because it can significantly improve the appearance of teeth
at much less cost than other techniques such as porcelain veneers or tooth bonding.
Human teeth naturally vary in color. Not all people are lucky to have a bright white as the natural color of their teeth.
The process of bleaching your teeth can truly improve the appearance of your teeth
Advances in modern cosmetic dentistry have made available a wide variety of
treatment options for people who are unhappy with their smile.
Teeth Whitening methods used will vary in effectiveness, cost, durability, and side effects.
Stained teeth is a very common dental problem that makes a lot of people to feel uncomfortable when they have to talk or smile,
due to the color of their teeth.
Stained or discolored teeth are caused by many different reasons but the acquisition of colored substances onto the tooth pellicle
is the main reason that makes teeth to lose their natural white color.
Regular tooth brushing can only remove some of the extrinsic stains from the outer surface of the tooth enamel.
Only ‘teeth bleaching’ can actually whiten teeth removing deep intrinsic stains and lightening their color.
The procedure can be done in the dental office or at home.
How does Teeth Whitening work?
Whitening your teeth is achieved using oxidising agents such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
These agents teeth and gradually bleach them over time.
The oxidising agents penetrate the enamel and bleach the dentine.
The degree of color change that occurs during bleaching depends on the types of stains present, the peroxide dose,
the amount of time on the teeth and how frequently it is performed.
Before you start Teeth Whitening
A dental examination is necessary to help determine if the patient is a good candidate for bleaching and what treatments are best.
This examination will include a dental history focusing on the factors that may have caused the stains.
People with gum disease and worn tooth enamel, and pregnant women are not good candidates.
Some areas, including artificial crowns, veneers and the roots of the teeth, cannot be whitened by bleaching.
1. In-Office Teeth Whitening
In-Office Teeth whitening also known as "power bleaching" is the quickest and the most effective method, but it is also the most expensive one.
It is also referred to as Chair-side bleaching.
It usually requires two or more visits to a cosmetic dentist.
A usual treatment appointment might last from 30 minutes to an hour, making it the quickest type available today.
However, it can be accomplished in a single one-hour appointment for certain patients.
A protective gel or rubber dam is placed over the gums to protect them from the bleaching agent.
The dentist then carefully applies the bleaching agent directly to your teeth.
During in-office bleaching, the bleaching agent used by the dentist is a 15 percent to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide gel or paste.
In some cases, blue light, heat or a laser may be used on the coated teeth to accelerate the whitening action of the bleaching agent.
The treatments available in a dentist’s office are far more effective, as they are usually about 5-10 times stronger than commercial products.
In office treatments offer teeth whitening of around 7-10 shades. and their effects last for several years much more than any other procedure.
In-office bleaching produces immediate results.
For those patients who urgently need whiter teeth, and for whom cost is not an issue, in-office bleaching is the best choice of teeth whitening treatment..
Laser teeth whitening
Laser teeth whitening is considered the top of the line treatment.
Laser tooth whitening is the fastest and safer way to whiten your teeth, but it's also the most expensive.
Laser teeth whitening is the most modern bleaching method that can offer you the Hollywood smile you always dreamed of.
2. Take Home whitening kits
At-home dentist supervised teeth whitening (bleaching trays)
It's also possible to remove discoloration with at-home bleaching trays and gel given to you by your dentist to whiten your teeth at home.
The bleaching gels designed for use at home aren't as strong as those applied by your dentist (usually 10% carbamide peroxide or 3% hydrogen peroxide),
so the process takes longer.
The technique is as follows:
The dentist takes an impression of your teeth which will then be used as a mold to make custom whitening trays that look like a mouth guard.
Once the whitening trays are ready you will have another appointment with your dentist where he will test if the trays fit properly to the teeth.
Also the dentist will provide instructions and demonstrate how to use the trays in conjunction with the whitening gel.
Usually the first application is done at the dental office.
You will then have to place the peroxide whitening gel in the trays at home and wear them for a certain amount of time each day
(usually twice a day for 30 minutes to 2 hours for a 2 to 4 week period)
The custom-made tray minimizes the bleaching gel’s contact with the gum tissue.
A whitening effect will be seen after daily bleaching within two weeks. The shade change will be stable for 6 to 12 months, or longer
The advantage of using dentist-supervised bleaching is that teeth can be properly assessed to have the correct chemical concentration, correct method and length of treatment and to be sure the patient is even suitable to have their teeth whitened.
There are disadvantages, however, mainly the cost is very high and it may take several weeks before the treatment is effective.
3. Over the counter teeth whitening
Over the counter treatments are designed to be cheaper and convenient.
Out of office treatments, ranging from tray treatments, pen treatments, gel treatments, strips and more,
are designed in a fashion where even the busiest individual will have enough time to get the whiter smile they want.
Unlike the office treatments, these treatments take time and effort over a longer period of time in order to get the results that you want.
Commercial products are really just diluted versions of the whiteners found in the dentist’s office.
They’re diluted in order to prevent damage to your mouth and lips.
Unfortunately this means that their effect is also significantly diminished.
The benchmark for home-use whiteners is typically only a few shades of improvement towards pure white.
Before using any over the counter tooth whitening product, you must visit your dentist for a complete dental examination.
Ask the dentist about your intentions to start a whitening program.
The dentist will check if there are any indications that would limit the success of teeth whitening or cause side effects,
and he will suggest any appropriate treatment.
There are several types of over-the-counter tooth whitening products :
a) Whitening Trays
Although the whitening tray kits that can be found in drugstores or internet may look similar to those provided by the dentists
for at-home teeth whitening, they will cost you much less, but there is another major difference.
The whitening trays are not custom fitted to the exact shape of your mouth.
Non-custom made trays that do not come in perfect contact with your teeth can cause striping or uneven whitening of the teeth.
They may also cause leaking and potential swallowing of the bleaching agent. This can irritate the gums and reduce the bleaching effectiveness.
It is better to prefer whitening kits with boil-and-bite kind of trays but even these do not offer perfect fit.
The concentration of the whitening gel provided in these kits (up to 6% hydrogen peroxide) is much lower from the gels used by
dental professionals at in-office teeth whitening. The way and time of use is similar to that of at-home teeth bleaching trays.
b) Whitening Strips
Tooth whitening strips are very thin, almost invisible strips made of flexible polyethylene (plastic) that work by bleaching the front teeth.
The strips are coated on the one side with a thin film of a peroxide based whitening gel.
Whitening strips with hydrogen peroxide up to 10% are available over the counter. Two separate strips are provided,
one for the upper and one for the lower teeth with different shape for better fit.
Each whitening strip is positioned across the teeth and then gently pressed into place, trying to achieve the maximum contact with teeth.
The dosing of whitener they deliver per treatment is extremely precise, as it is already applied on them by the manufacturer.
This is one of the main advantages of whitening strips, minimizing the safety risks associated with usage errors arising from their unsupervised use.
With whitening strips the bleaching agent comes in less contact with the gums compared to the tray based whitening systems,
therefore the possibility of gum irritation is limited.
Whitening strips generally cover only six to eight center front teeth.
They can only whiten the teeth they are in direct contact with, so only these front teeth are whitened.
This could be a problem especially for those who have a wide smile, because the strips, unlike trays,
can not always cover and whiten all the visible teeth.
c) Paint-on teeth whiteners
Paint-on teeth whitening products is another category of over the counter teeth whitening products.
Their action is also based on bleaching teeth with the use of peroxide just like strips.
The main difference is the method to apply the bleaching agent on the surface of the teeth.
The whitener (peroxide-based gel) is applied directly onto the surface of the teeth using a small brush.
d) Whitening Toothpastes
Tooth whitening toothpastes provide an inexpensive alternative method of tooth whitening for those who do not want to spend too much for a professional treatment.
You should not expect, of course, the same whitening result as with the in-office treatments,
but whitening toothpastes can provide significant results for lightly stained teeth with a fraction of the cost.
What they actually do is to restore the natural tooth color by removing extrinsic stains from the outer layers of enamel, they do not bleach teeth.
Most of the whitening toothpastes work through the action of mild abrasives.
Actually all toothpastes contain some kind of abrasive in order to improve their cleaning action.
Whitening toothpastes contain either additional polishing agents or abrasives similar with the regular toothpastes but with higher granularity.