Teeth whitening is a dental procedure where chemicals are used to get rid of stains on your front teeth. Teeth get stained for a variety of reasons. The stains on the teeth can bleached with solutions that are readily available over the counter and the same procedure can be done in the dentist’s office also. The results vary with the procedure you choose to whiten your teeth and what products are used for the same.
Is it harmful to undergo teeth whitening procedure?
Teeth are an important aesthetic that you are endowed with by nature. It is an important part of your personality. It is believed that the first impression you make on people is through your smile. If the smile is not up to the mark then it not only affects your social relationships, but also your self-concept.
Teeth whitening procedures are used by millions of people all over the world with either at home with products that are available over the counter, or with products supplied by the dentist and supervised by him, as well as procedures done at the dentist’s office. The results vary according to products and procedures.
How do teeth whitening procedures work?
Teeth whitening procedure is basically a bleaching procedure where hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (carbamide breaks down to produce hydrogen peroxide) is used as bleaching agent. Hydrogen peroxide works by breaking down stains on the teeth into very tiny pieces which get dismantled slowly making the teeth look a shade whiter and shinier.
The teeth whitening done by the dentist in the office produces better results and lasts for longer duration than the procedures done at home with products bought over the counter.
Teeth whitening procedures found to produce a few side effects with some people.
What do you need to watch out for after teeth whitening?
Sensitivity in teeth is a very common temporary after-effect of teeth whitening chemicals. The sensitivity occurs because the pulp in the tooth. The amount of peroxide in the solution affects the severity of teeth sensitivity. If you have restored teeth in mouth also affects sensitivity in the teeth. In some cases, sensitivity could be a result of light used to initiate the whitening procedure. The sensitivity will go away in a few hours to a few days. If it does not resolve than you will have to ask your dentist who may give with fluorinated products to help remineralize your teeth. You can also use toothpaste specially made for sensitive teeth.
If hydrogen peroxide, used in the solution for teeth whitening, touches your gum, it may produce irritation. If you do the procedure at home with whitening trays, take precaution that it fits snug on your teeth without touching the gums. In-office treatment done by the dentist will rarely have this problem because the dentist will take care to fit the tray properly on your teeth, and protect dental tissues. The dentist will use a gel to shield your gums from the whitening chemical agents. When you use solution trays they fit on your teeth. This minimizes the chance of chemicals running over to your gums and irritating them.
Some common teeth whitening techniques
Here are some common ways in which teeth whitening is generally carried out.
Teeth whitening strips
These strips are coated with hydrogen peroxide which are supposed to be applied on the front of the teeth. These strips have a lesser amount of solution to save irritation on the gums and since it is available over the counter, you may not know if there are any side effects. The lesser amount of the chemical is safer to use but may not produce very effective results. You may be required to repeat the treatment again.
Teeth whitening tooth pastes
These tooth pastes have hydrogen peroxide but they are in the mouth for a short period of time therefore cannot do the action effectively. They need to be used for many days to be effective.
Dental restorations and teeth whitening
Teeth whitening cannot be done on artificial crowns. They are also not effective when the patient is on medicines for cancer. The person who is using tobacco or drugs, will have no benefits from teeth whitening process because stains caused by tobacco will not yield to hydrogen peroxide. The stains caused by certain drugs also will not become white with bleaching.
Whitening treatments done on dental restorations may cause damage to teeth depending on what type of material is used in the fillings. Hydrogen peroxide in the whitening solution accelerates the mercury in dental amalgam if the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is high. It also depends on the time that the solution is kept on the teeth and how long the dental amalgam is in the teeth. The amount of mercury leached from the amalgam is not very worrying because it may not cause serious damage to health of the person. Crowns and implants are resistant to hydrogen peroxide and are not affected.
Safety of teeth whitening methods
Whenever you feel the need to whiten your teeth, or the stains on your teeth start bothering you, the best thing to do is talk to your dentist. The dentist is the best person to judge the condition of stains on your teeth and suggest the options. He will evaluate the health of your teeth and will deal with oral issues like cavities or gum disease, before starting the teeth whitening treatment. Since the dentist knows your medical history, he will know what kind of treatment will best suit you. When you choose the in-office treatment done by the dentist he will prepare the mouth tray which will fit your teeth snugly with the optimum amount of bleach and will keep the tray on, for the basic minimum time for it to be effective. Since the dentist is aware on your medical issues like allergies, he will keep that in mind.
If you choose to get the treatment done at home. Let your dentist supervise it with suggesting the method. He can make the trays in the office and give you instructions.
When you choose to use over the counter treatment products, do follow instructions properly.
Teeth whitening is absolutely safe if you follow the protocols and do it under supervision by an experienced professional.