Teeth whitening methods are a popular choice for individuals who desire to have a brighter and healthy-looking smile. These methods are done to restore the natural colour of the teeth and remove any stain-causing debris from the surface. A whiter set of teeth makes a person’s appearance look younger, and it establishes a positive first impression.
Many adults are concerned about how their teeth appear in photos, while others believe that an unappealing smile can affect their opportunities for landing a great career. These people’s effort in ensuring their teeth look great have driven up the demand for teeth whitening procedures.
Increasing one’s confidence levels through teeth whitening has now become easier due to several advancements in the world of cosmetic dentistry. Teeth whitening aims to lighten the teeth, removing discolouration and stains. It requires repeat treatments to achieve a significant, brighter change in colour.
Before differentiating the common types of teeth whitening procedures, let’s identify the reasons behind teeth discolouration and when teeth whitening proves useful.
The colour of our natural teeth is produced by the combination of the colour of the dentin and the light being scattered and reflected on the enamel (external layer of the tooth). The smoothness or thickness of the enamel is influenced by a person’s genes. A thin enamel prominently shows the colour of the dentin, in the same manner as having a rougher enamel changes the reflection of light and teeth colour.
A film coating called pellicle gradually forms on the surface of the enamel and collects stains. The enamel has pores that can gather stains. There are many reasons why teeth can darken over time. Among the common reasons are:
- Food and beverage – Eating certain fruits and vegetables and drinking teeth-staining beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and wines
- Smoking – Tobacco use is one of the leading reasons of teeth discolouration
- Poor dental care habits – Frequent brushing and flossing helps remove plaque and stain-causing substances, and inadequate mouth cleaning can cause these substances to build up on the enamel
- Medications – Antibiotics like doxycycline and tetracycline can stain the teeth, especially in children aged eight and below whose teeth are still developing. Mouth rinses that contain cetylpyridinium chloride and chlorhexidine are also known to discolour teeth.
- Diseases – A number of medical conditions can affect dentin and enamel formation, leading to eventual teeth discolouration. Pregnant women can also get infections that can alter the enamel development in their unborn child (usually during the second half of pregnancy), which may result in teeth discolouration.
- Dental instruments – Dental materials that contain sulphide can stain a gray-black colour to the teeth.
- Ageing – The external layer of the enamel wears away as we age. When this happens, the dentin reveals its natural yellow colour. And when the tooth lays down more dentin, the translucency of the tooth is reduced, producing a dimmer appearance.
- Trauma – Some external factors like trauma can disturb the formation of the enamel and cause discolouration, both in children and adult teeth.
- Environment – Exposure to too much fluoride (either from excessive fluoride levels in water or fluoride applications and supplements) can lead to tooth discolouration.
Bleaching and teeth whitening: What’s the difference?
Teeth whitening is effective for treating surface stains. If you have stubborn teeth discolouration that doesn’t go away with frequent cleanings and regular dental visits, consider getting a teeth whitening treatment. There are two popular approaches: laser teeth whitening and bleaching. Learn more about each procedure below:
This teeth whitening method use products that contain bleaches like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. A simple whitening process, bleaching lessens the concentration of colour on the tooth to make it brighter. There are four common methods of bleaching you can explore:
- Stain removal toothpastes – These include toothpastes that contain cleaning agents that remove teeth stains. Although they can have mild abrasives that cleanse the teeth, these toothpastes cannot change the colour of teeth as they only remove obvious stains.
- At-home bleaching products – Some dentists offer custom-made whitening products for at-home treatment. They give patients instructions on how to use the bleaching products and for how long they should use it. This bleaching method may take a few days to weeks to see results.
- In-office bleaching – Also known as chairside bleaching, this is a one-time bleaching method where the dentist applies beach to the teeth while protecting your gums and mouth.
- Over-the-counter bleaching treatments – These products can come in strips or toothpastes which you can apply on your own. OTC bleaching products have lower bleaching concentrations compared to those provided by your dentist. Before purchasing one, it’s best to discuss these options with your dentist to make sure the products are effective and safe for use.
Some individuals may experience tooth sensitivity when using teeth whiteners. This is a natural result when the peroxide in whitening products comes in contact with the enamel, gets into the enamel, reaches the dentin, and causes a reaction to the nerve of your tooth. The sensitivity is a temporary reaction. It’s important to consult your dentist before using any bleaching product.
Laser teeth whitening
Administered by a trusted dental practice, this procedure involves the application of bleach and laser to every tooth. The laser emits heat to hasten the whitening process and ensure its effectiveness. Laser teeth whitening uses a bleaching gel that contains hydrogen peroxide with a concentration level of 25 to 40 percent. Due to such a high level of concentration, dentists observe special precautions to minimize tooth sensitivity and protect the oral tissues, gums, and lips.
These precautions include the use of the following:
- Soft rubber dams to shield the gums
- Cheek retractors
- Desensitizing fluoride pastes to strengthen the enamel
Laser teeth whitening can take about an hour and may cost more than other whitening methods. Several treatments (about two to four sessions) may be required depending on the case of discolouration. But compared to over-the-counter whitening products, laser teeth whitening provides a deeper clean. Not everyone is a suitable candidate, and patients must undergo a dental assessment prior to the procedure.
If you desire to avail of whitening procedures and discover which option is best for you, talk to a cosmetic dentist in London, Ontario for a more informed choice. Visit London City Dental for professional teeth whitening and get a caring service delivered by a professional team. We also use recognized and effective teeth whitening technologies to give you a confident, beautiful smile.
Request an appointment with our reliable dentists today to explore your options!