Tooth whitening is a common aesthetic procedure in general dentistry . A child’s milk teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth that follow. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral of the tooth, as the enamel becomes less porous. Teeth can also become stained by bacterial pigments, dietary habits (such as drinking coffee, tea, red wine) and tobacco. Certain antibiotic medications (like tetracycline) can also cause teeth stains or a reduction in the brilliance of the enamel. Tooth whitening is an affordable and effective way to combat common causes of tooth discoloration, while boosting your self-confidence and improving your appearance.
Tooth whitening is for the great majority of patients a very effective and safe treatment. Oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide are used to lighten the shade of the teeth. The oxidizing agent penetrates the porosities in the rod-like crystal structure of enamel and oxidizes interprismatic stain deposits. Over a period of time, the dentine layer, lying underneath the enamel, is also whitened.
Teeth whitening is considered to be a very safe treatment that does not cause any damage to teeth structure. The only reported side affect is temporary teeth sensitivity that always goes after 1 or 2 days.
There are many methods to whiten teeth: whitening strips, whitening pen, whitening light (very often is called laser whitening, but in fact is a machine operating at a certain wavelength of light which activates quicker the whitening agent) and whitening gel.
The tooth whitening method that shows most advantages and best results is at-home whitening with whitening gel.
They are only available from your dentist, who will supervise your treatment from initial consultation through completion. Your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will use them to make customised whitening trays which will perfectly fit to your teeth. Using for tooth whitening very accurately fitting customised trays is very important as they will keep the sticky, viscous gel in better contact with teeth surfaces to be whitened and for longer and prevent migration to gums. Whitening trays will need to be worn by patient for at least 4 hours for each treatment session and can be kept in mouth overnight.
The effects of whitening can last for several months, but may vary depending on the lifestyle of the patient. Factors that decrease whitening include smoking and the ingestion of dark colored liquids like coffee, tea and red wine. Whitening treatment though can be repeated and especially for at-home whitening with gel, patient can buy extra whitening gel from the practice and use it with the customised whitening trays. A new prescription from the dentist is not necessary.