What You Should Know About Professional Dental Whitening

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professional dental whitening

Dental whitening is the process of bleaching the teeth so they are whiter in appearance. People who desire to have whiter teeth can achieve this effect through a variety of methods. Some choose to visit a dentist to have their teeth whitened. Other people purchase a teeth whitening product from a store to whiten their teeth at home. Finally, a third group of people choose to use teeth whitening toothpaste on a daily basis to gradually achieve a brighter smile. (1 site)

Most cosmetic dental practices offer a combination of immediate in-office teeth whitening and professional take-home tooth-whitening kits with custom-made trays. Both procedures are based on a bleaching process that uses a peroxide-based compound of varying strength (3%-30% peroxide). The higher the concentration of peroxide in the compound, the more powerful the bleaching compound is. While this makes the product more effective at whitening teeth, it also has greater potential to cause damage to the surrounding gum tissue and your lips. (2 site)

Not everyone can use tooth whitening solution. Circumstances that may prevent the use of tooth whitening product are:

    • Teeth that have restoration

, such as veneers or white fillings, cannot be whitened with hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. These materials do not whiten past their original color. The color of these types of restorations was determined by the surrounding teeth. If the surrounding teeth are whitened, the restorations will stand out and look artificial. Replacing old or discolored restorations will allow you to change their appearance.

    • Teeth that have internal staining

, discoloration from developmental conditions, or have been root canalled may not be affected by the typical whitening process. Internal tooth whitening or permanent restorations may be an option to consider.

    • Natural tooth colors that are brown or gray in hue

may not produce desired results. Typically, teeth with a yellow hue will produce the best results.

    • Pregnant or nursing mothers

should avoid whitening their teeth, as there is not enough research to determine the safety of tooth whitening products during pregnancy or lactation.

    • People with hypersensitive teeth

should avoid tooth whitening because this process may enhance the level of sensitivity. (3 site)

Protection During Tooth Whitening

It is very important that your dentist isolates your gums and lips with a protective material in order to avoid any potential damage or burning of your soft tissue. Home whitening kits usually have a low concentration of peroxide so that there is less chance of any damage occurring. Recently, high-strength home whitening kits purchased online and from certain stores have attracted media attention with horror stories of people with badly burnt lips and gums. It’s for this reason that teeth whitening is a procedure that should always be carried out under the supervision of a dentist.

How Are Teeth Whitened? 
Enamel, the first layer of tooth surface, is actually semi-translucent, or clear. The layer underneath the enamel, known as dentin, is typically yellow, but may be gray, brown, or black. This hue is what is seen penetrating through the enamel. In order to whiten the dentin, a peroxide solution is placed on the enamel. This process opens the pores of the enamel, allowing the solution to reach the layer of dentin. The solution will then begin to lighten the dentin, resulting in the appearance of whiter teeth.
Several brands of tooth-whitening products are on the market that all promise one thing — noticeable results. Professional in-office whitening, professional take-home whitening, and over-the-counter whitening products remain the most common ways to whiten your teeth.
Side Effects of Tooth Whitening
Tooth whitening is considered to be a relatively safe procedure. Most people that use tooth whitening products experience little to no side effects and are satisfied with the results, while others may experience one or more of the following situations:

  1. Tooth sensitivity may develop during the process of whitening, and for a short period after the procedure due to the exposure of the dentin layer. People with tooth sensitivity prior to whitening should consult their dentist for options or brands that may help alleviate the increased level of sensitivity during the process.
  2. Soft tissue irritation, known as a chemical burn, may occur if the whitening solution is exposed to these areas.
  3. Depending on the initial shade of the tooth, the results may not be favorable, meaning some tooth colors will not lighten to the desired shade of white and may appear gray or translucent.

It is important to have realistic expectations when evaluating your final results; it may take several treatments to achieve a whiter smile. Whitening results may not be permanent, as your teeth will naturally develop stains from foods, beverages, or tobacco use. Remember to brush and floss daily and visit your dentist for regular cleanings and examinations. Tooth whitening results will vary from person to person, so choose an option that will suit your specific needs and budget. (4 site)

Teeth Bleaching
Teeth bleaching is a chemical process used to remove stains from the surface of the teeth and to whiten the color. The core of a tooth is made of a yellow substance called dentin. The dentin is covered in a whiter coating of tooth enamel, which creates the visible surface of the tooth. Over time, enamel can wear down and become stained, causing it to appear dull and yellow. Sometimes, enamel becomes so thin that the yellow dentin of the tooth begins to show through.
Tooth enamel stains for a variety of reasons. Normal wear and tear from the everyday use of teeth results in microscopic cracks in the enamel. These cracks can fill with organic debris over time, dulling the appearance of the tooth. Some teeth bleaching products and procedures help remove this debris, improving the appearance of the tooth and whitening its color.
Exposure to dark-colored foods and beverages can also lead to tooth discoloration. Red wine, coffee, tea, and cola are particularly prone to leaving a darkening residue on teeth. Smoking also has a significant yellowing effect on tooth enamel. Teeth bleaching on a more regular schedule may be required for teeth with a heavy exposure to these types of discolorations.
A wide variety of teeth bleaching procedures are available to help remove stains and return teeth to a whiter color. Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the primary active ingredients in most teeth bleaching products. Procedures done in a dental office generally utilize hydrogen peroxide, while those available for home use rely on carbamide peroxide as their primary active ingredient.
At-home teeth bleaching kits can come in the form of strips, paint-on gels, and standard-sized mouthpieces used as trays to hold a whitening agent. These methods usually require repeated applications over a period of days or weeks. They can be used by themselves or as maintenance to a dental office whitening procedure.
Teeth bleaching procedures done in a dental office take less time than the methods available for home use. This is mostly due to the higher concentration of peroxide in whitening gels available to dental care professionals. Due to the more potent ingredients employed by in-office teeth bleaching procedures, a greater change in the teeth’s color can be achieved in smaller amounts of time than with at-home teeth bleaching methods. They are also significantly more expensive.
Some side effects are common with teeth bleaching products. Increased tooth sensitivity and gum irritation can result from their use. Generally, these systems are temporary and go away after a few days. The color of dental work such as crowns and veneers are not affected by teeth bleaching procedures. (1 site)

Professional Tooth Bleaching
There are several different ways that dentists can bleach your teeth. These are separated into external techniques (where the bleach is placed on the outside of the tooth) and internal techniques (where the bleach is placed inside the tooth).

External Bleaching
This means that the color of the teeth is lightened by placing a bleaching gel on the outer (external) surfaces of the teeth. Once again, using bleaching gels in this way may not work for certain types of discoloration, such as that caused by metal fillings or damaged blood vessels inside a tooth. There are three ways to do external bleaching:

  1. “Home” Bleaching – This is similar to over-the-counter kits, but with two main differences. Firstly, your dentist makes the rubber mouth trays so that they fit your teeth precisely, and secondly, the bleaching gel is stronger so it tends to be more effective. Your dentist will give you tubes of bleaching gel and instructions on how to put the gel in the mouth trays. You will need to wear the mouth trays for at least a few hours each day. It may take a few weeks to achieve the color that you want. Your dentist will give you detailed instructions.
  2. In-Office Bleaching – This is also known as power or laser bleaching. Your dentist may put a rubber seal around your teeth to protect your gums depending on concentration of bleaching agent used. Then, the bleaching gel is placed onto your teeth and a special, bright light is used. This light enhances the whitening process. The appointment may take between one to two hours.
  3. Combined Bleaching – This may also be known as “power” bleaching – both the home and in-office bleaching are used in combination to obtain the desired result. The home bleaching stage may occur before or after surgery treatment depending on the type of product used. Your dentist will give you instructions.

Internal bleaching
This means that the color of a tooth is lightened by placing a bleaching product inside the tooth. Internal bleaching can only be done on teeth that have experienced a successful root canal. This means that the blood vessels and nerves inside the tooth have been replaced with a rubber filling.

To bleach a tooth in this way, the dentist will drill a hole and place the bleaching product inside (the hole will be on the back of a front tooth so that it is not visible). The hole will be sealed with a temporary filling, leaving the bleach inside the tooth. The procedure will not hurt because the tooth has no nerves.

You will have to go back to your dentist about a week later to have the temporary filling and bleach taken out. If you are satisfied with the new shade, your dentist will fill the hole with a tooth-colored filling. Sometimes, the color does not lighten enough, and the process needs to be repeated. Occasionally, internal bleaching needs to be combined with other whitening techniques to achieve the desired effect. (2 site)

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