Teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dental treatments. Teeth whitening gives you a confident smile and we all know self-confidence is the key to success in life. Brushing and flossing daily keep your teeth white, bright, and healthy. If you are feeling that your teeth are lacking some sparkle or they are more yellow, then you must be thinking of teeth whitening.
Get the facts first. Read about the most commonly asked questions about teeth whitening before getting it done like causes of staining, various treatment options available, risks, and costs.
Tooth discoloration: Extrinsic and Intrinsic stains
There are two kinds of stains on teeth- extrinsic and intrinsic stains.
Extrinsic stains– are those stains that appear on the outer surface of the teeth due to dark-colored food and drinks, tobacco, and routine wear and tear. Superficial stains can be removed with the help of brushing and professional dental cleaning. Teeth whitening can be done for some stubborn stains.
Intrinsic stains- are those stains that form on the interior of the tooth due to trauma, fluorosis, aging, or due to chemicals. Intrinsic stains can be improved with teeth whitening, and if not improved there are alternative cosmetic solutions nowadays like dental veneers.
Why did my teeth change color?
Your teeth can change from white to yellow due to a number of reasons:
Aging- There is a direct correlation between age and the color of the tooth. The hard outer shell of teeth called enamel is white in color and the inner softer layer called dentine is yellowish. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more yellowish dentine will be seen through. Teeth get darkened as a result of wear and tear and stain accumulations which can be difficult to remove.
Food and drinks- Major cause of tooth staining is regular consumption of tea, coffee, red wine, cola, and other deeply-colored beverages and foods. Chromogens, intense colored pigments present in these drinks attach to enamel and cause discoloration. Acidic foods such as vinegar and citric acid can cause tooth erosion. The yellow-colored dentin shows through this transparent tooth surface and eventually the teeth develop a dull appearance.
Smoking/ Tobacco chewing- Tobacco contains tar and nicotine which causes brownish discoloration on the tooth surface. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco both causes stubborn stains.
Trauma- if your tooth is injured due to falls or trauma, then it got discolored with time as the tooth reacts to an injury by depositing more dentine.
Grinding/ Bruxism – teeth grinding due to stress or any other reason can cause micro-cracks and the biting edges of teeth will darken with time.
Starting color- the natural tooth color varies from yellow-brownish to greenish-grey which intensifies with time. The yellowish-brown shade will show better results of bleaching as compared to greenish-grey.
Chemicals /drugs- Young children when exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline or doxycycline during their teeth formation stage can cause discoloration of their permanent teeth. Other medicines which can cause discoloration are antipsychotics, antihistamines, etc. Radiation therapy of head and neck and chemotherapy can also cause tooth discoloration. Excessive consumption of fluoride during childhood causes fluorosis and white mottling of teeth.
Translucency and thinness- teeth that are thicker are more opaque and appear whiter in color. Thinner teeth are more transparent and they show less response to bleaching as compared to thicker teeth.
What are your teeth whitening options?
Having a smile that is white, healthy, and bright is everyone’s dream. Teeth whitening treatment can help you restore the color and shine of your teeth but it is a must to consult your dentist before starting for teeth whitening. Some of the popular options available are-
Stain removing toothpaste
All toothpaste help in removing surface stains as they all contain mild abrasives. Teeth whitening toothpaste or gels contain additional polishing agents that help in stain removal. They are inexpensive, easy to apply, and readily available. These do not change the color of your teeth but they will sparkle due to the removal of surface stains. Teeth-whitening strips are also available that contain mild bleaching agents. Always use these products after your dentist’s consent.
In-office teeth whitening
It is a single sitting procedure in which you get a significant change in tooth color in a short time, however, it is more expensive than other treatments. This protocol involves the application of a protective gel on your gums. The bleaching agent that is highly concentrated peroxide gel is applied to your teeth for 15 to 20 minutes in one cycle. The whitening gel is activated with the help of UV light or laser. The number of cycles may vary from one to three depending upon the severity of stains on teeth. It is a safe and powerful treatment that can provide dramatic results.
This is called chair-side bleaching. Those with particularly stubborn stains are recommended to come for one or more additional bleaching sessions or advised to continue with home-use whitening kits for a few days.
Home whitening kits
Teeth whitening kits use slower-acting carbamide peroxide which breaks into hydrogen peroxide. This whitening kit will whiten your teeth faster and lighter than any other system. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and will make customized whitening trays that will fit your mouth precisely. This will ensure that the whitening agents stay intact on your teeth while providing a protective shield for your gums.
How does teeth whitening work?
Teeth whitening is a very simple and safe process. Whitening products contain bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These bleaching agents make the color less concentrated and teeth will appear brighter.
Does teeth whitening work on all teeth?
Although teeth whitening products are easily available, be it laser treatment, toothpaste, or gels, you must talk to your dentist as whiteners may not correct all types of discolorations. Always remember that different types of treatment are suitable for different types of teeth and have their own benefits. For example, yellow teeth may bleach well as compared to brown teeth while grey teeth will not respond at all. Teeth bleaching treatment will not work if tooth discoloration is caused due to tooth injury or medication. It also won’t be effective on fillings, crowns, or veneers. Only a dentist will be able to advise you on the best treatment which is perfect for your oral health.
What are the side effects of teeth whitening?
Teeth bleaching is considered a safe procedure, however, it is associated with certain risks.
Teeth sensitivity- Teeth whitening may cause sensitivity in some patients for a few days. It happens when peroxide gets through the enamel to the softer layer of dentin and irritates the nerve endings. But this sensitivity is temporary in most cases and usually resolves in a few days. Your dentist may recommend a toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for sensitive teeth.
Gums irritation- Overuse of teeth whitening agents can damage your gums and tooth enamel due to the concentration of the bleaching agent or due to contact with trays. So be sure to follow the instructions of your dentist carefully.
The difference in colors– Teeth whitening has no effect on veneers, crowns, or fillings. They maintain their default color, while the surrounding teeth are whitened. This results in technicolor teeth.
Other things to keep in consideration before teeth whitening
The effect of teeth whitening will be fully seen in approximately two weeks. So if you want to have ceramic restorations or veneers, they should be planned after two weeks so that they can exactly match the shade of newly bleached teeth.
Tooth-colored restorations need to be replaced after teeth whitening to prevent the Technicolor effect.
Recessed gums are difficult to bleach as they often reveal yellowish root surfaces.
Pregnant females should not get the teeth bleaching done. They can plan after their delivery.
Do’s and don’t after Teeth Whitening treatment
After your teeth bleaching, you should follow the after-care instructions to ensure the best results.
- Do not smoke for at least 12 hours, 24 hours if possible. Cigarettes contain such ingredients that can stain the teeth, especially in the 24 hour time period after treatment.
- Do not drink coffee, tea, dark-colored juices, or red wine. Best thing is to drink water for first 24 hours after teeth whitening.
- Do not put lipstick or lip gloss for 24 hrs as it can cause staining.
- Do not use home whitening kit on your teeth for at least a month or two. Be very cautious even after that time since you can weaken your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth after every meal to ensure not to leave staining food and drinks in your mouth for too long.
- Brush and floss regularly and maintain good oral hygiene.
- Use a straw as much as possible while drinking anything to minimize staining.
- Eat only white foods. This is a rule of thumb- stick to white chicken, pasta, potatoes, and cauliflower.
What is the cost of Teeth Whitening?
The cost of teeth whitening treatment depends on the technique and the product used. It also depends on the oral health situation of your teeth. Your dentist can tell you an estimate after the complete evaluation of your teeth and smile. The approximate cost varies from 4000 rs to 8000rs ($500 to $1000).
Remember that no matter what whitening treatment you choose, results won’t last forever. Your teeth can re-stain due to food, drinks, and smoking. Maintenance is always required for a sparkling smile.
Say goodbye to yellow teeth and Hello to new pearly white smiles with our amazing whitening treatment. If you are interested in getting a whitening treatment for your teeth then we can give the results you wish, contact us to arrange a consultation with our dentist.