Teeth whitening has turned into a modern and frequent dental therapy in contemporary dentistry. Nowadays, having bright and beautiful smile is a chief concern in our society.
However, when the time comes to choose the best materials and methods, the number of options in the market can be overwhelming.
Next, we will recap the options available in modern dentistry and how this excellent solution can help you achieve the smile you dream with.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening, also known as dental bleaching, is a conservative cosmetic dental treatment meant to improve your teeth color. It is an effective and fast solution to deal with multiple types of tooth stains and discolorations. This therapy uses different substances to change the enamel structure and make your teeth look whiter.
What Causes Teeth Staining?
Generally, teeth have a white translucid color. This color can vary from yellowish, blueish, or greyish white tones, depending on multiple factors. Although teeth are strong, they can be affected by extrinsic and intrinsic factors.
In a nutshell, teeth can get stained by the following causes:
- Some diseases like dental fluorosis and enamel hypoplasia.
- Tobacco usage.
- Some drinks and foods such as coffee, tea, wine, and fruits and vegetables with intense colors.
- Dental trauma and root canal treatments.
- Prolonged use of some prescription drugs such as tetracyclines.
These factors can induce stains that can vary from yellow to brown and even black colorations, compromising your esthetics and personal image.
It is important to consider that physiologically teeth change their color due to aging and constant use as you grow older.
When Do You Need to Whiten Teeth?
Teeth whitening is indicated for any person who has mild to severe stains and discolorations in their enamel. Also, this treatment applies to natural teeth and teeth with root canal treatment.
However, not everyone can enjoy the benefits of dental bleaching. Thereby, you should consult your dentist before considering having any type of teeth whitening. The following are some situations when you should not whiten your teeth:
- During pregnancy or nursing.
- When you have extensive decay or gum conditions.
- If you have braces or had them in less than 6 months.
- When you are allergic to any of the components.
- If you are under 13 years old.
How to Whiten Your Teeth?
Essentially, there are 3 main types of teeth whitening treatments: in-office bleaching, at-home bleaching, and over-the-counter (OTC) whiteners.
- In-office whitening
This method is also called professional teeth whitening, and it is the fastest and most effective technique for dental bleaching. As its name indicates, it is performed inside the dental office and requires professional specialized equipment and supplies. It also needs a specialized LED light to enhance the gel properties.
This whitening method uses chemical agents, usually carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, in higher concentrations than other presentations. Moreover, clinicians have multiple protocols and techniques that they can use to obtain the best results.
Before the procedure, your dentist needs to establish if you qualify as a candidate for the therapy or require further dental treatment before the whitening.
Most times, this method has evident results in just the first session.
- At-home whitening
Unlike professional teeth whitening, this type of bleaching uses custom-made trays that you fill with the whitening agent at home. These trays are made from molds of your bite, leaving a small space to pour the whitening gel. The exact duration and protocol on this type of bleaching depend on the product that your dentist decides to use.
Usually, at-home whitening is a more convenient, less expensive, and comfortable way to whiten your teeth. However, it requires your full collaboration to obtain the best results possible without hurting yourself. Also, it requires more time than in-office bleaching.
- Over-the-counter products
Currently, there are numerous over-the-counter whitening products available in the market. These products are applicable at home, following the instructions and regulations of the fabricants and your dentist.
OTCs include the following self-applications whiteners:
From the above, whitening strips and toothpaste are the most used in the world. However, indistinctively of the product you acquire, you must ensure that it has been approved for your safety with quality materials and manufacturing.
Which Method Should I Choose?
The method that you decide to use depends on multiple factors such as your dentist's criteria, your needs, your case, and your budget.
Each product is designed for different purposes and goals, with its own indications. Some cases can show significant improvement with OTCs whiteners, while others might need in-office therapies.
Remember to follow the instructions of your dentist carefully to avoid complications and guarantee a beautiful smile.
Finally, you might experience some sensitivity after the treatment. But do not worry. These symptoms fade out shortly, leaving you with a white smile.
--- By Dr. Samuel I A Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) from Central University of Venezuela. He is also the Member of the National College of Dental Surgeon of Venezuela. Boasts almost 10 years experience in general dentistry.
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