Tooth Whitening procedure will lighten up teeth & help remove discoloration & stain. Teeth-whitening is among one of the most popular dental treatments as it can drastically improve how teeth look like. However, teeth-whitening is not just a one-time treatment method but will require to be repeated from time to time so as to maintain bright color of dentures.
Outer layer of teeth are known as enamel. Color of natural teeth is basically created by scattering & reflection of light on the enamel in combination with color of dentin under it. Genes generally affect smoothness & thickness of enamel in individuals. Thinner enamel cover allows more of dentin color to show through. Having rough or smooth enamel will also affect reflection of light & also the display of color. Each day, it is the thin coating called pellicle which forms on enamel & thereby picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains many pores which can also hold stains.
Aging is another common cause which makes teeth less bright as enamel gets thinner & dentin becomes darker. Moreover, it is also possible for stains to form inside of tooth & which are known as intrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains are usually caused by exposure to large amounts of fluoride in childhood while teeth were still developing. Other causes of stains include tetracycline antibiotics which can stain teeth in children when mothers take them during the second half of pregnancy or when it is given to children below 8 years of age as teeth are still developing during these formative years. Trauma may also be a valid reason for darkening of teeth. Nevertheless, teeth-whitening is one of the most effective dental procedures on surface or extrinsic stains of tooth.
Other dental problems can effectively mar success of teeth whitening procedure. Like for example, cavities will be required to be treated prior to whitening of teeth. This is because whitening solution will eventually pass through decayed areas & reach inner parts of tooth. In cases where gums are receded, exposed roots of teeth will appear discolored or yellow & whitening products will not be able to make them any whiter. Moreover, whitening may make teeth more sensitive for patients having receding gums or tooth decay. Teeth whitening will also not work on patients wearing porcelain or ceramic crowns or veneers.
Two main types of procedures are available for teeth whitening. Vital Whitening is normally performed on teeth which have live nerves while Non-Vital Whitening is done on teeth that have undergone root canal treatment & no longer hold live nerves.
Teeth whitening dental procedures are usually performed in a dental clinic or hospital. Quite often, dentists may also photograph patients’ teeth first which will eventually help them monitor progress of treatment. Dentists will also examine patient’s teeth & ask them questions so as to find out the cause of staining. As the next step of treatment, dentists will then clean teeth which will remove food, film of bacteria & other substances which go on to contribute to staining. This is where the teeth whitening procedure actually begins.
Dentists will first apply a substance which covers & protects gums around teeth. Teeth whitening agent will then be placed on teeth. Quite a few teeth whitening agents are activated by special lights, laser light or by heat emitted from these lights. After application of the whitening agent, dentists will shine light on patient’s teeth. Dentists may also suggest patients continue bleaching process at home for a few days or weeks for patients with badly discolored teeth.
Dentists will take impressions of upper & lower teeth so as to make customized mouthpieces which will fit & serve in-home teeth whitening. This mouthpiece is required to close fit & will help the teeth whitening agent remain in contact with teeth. At home, patients are required to fill each mouthpiece with whitening gel that dentists provide for several hours each day. Most patients achieve the desired amount of whitening within a week or two. However, some patients may also need to wear the mouthpiece for almost 4 weeks or longer periods of time.
These are available as well & contain abrasives which can remove stains formed on the enamel. Several whitening products provided by dentists are also available in the market. But these are generally weaker whitening agents than products provided by the dentist & may take longer time for whitening of teeth. Most whitening agents are applied as gel which is placed in a mouthpiece or a whitening strip which sticks to teeth. But then over-the-counter mouthpieces fit less securely than customized mouthpieces which dentists provide. It would therefore be ideal to talk to the dentist in case patients want to use these home products. Teeth whitening patients should however be sure to follow directions on these products so as to avoid overuse & possible damage to teeth & mouth.
Teeth whitening patients must follow up with the dentist in case they find their gums sore or white. Moreover, stains are also bound to come back as teeth whitening is not a permanent solutions. Patients who smoke or consume plenty of staining drinks or foods may find whiteness begin to fade within as little as one month. It would therefore be wiser to avoid these sources of staining so as to postpone another teeth whitening treatment for another 6 – 12 months. So discuss ideal teeth whitening schedule with the dentist & ask him about which teeth whitening product would work best in your case.
It is most unlikely that teeth whitening treatment will cause any serious side effects. However, some people may find their teeth becoming more sensitive for a short period of time. Mild gum irritation may also be expected following teeth whitening treatment. Women patients must take care not to undergo teeth whitening procedure while they are pregnant. Nevertheless, effects of teeth whitening materials on development of fetus are not yet known. But then, since teeth-whitening is a cosmetic procedure, it can conveniently be postponed until after the baby is born.
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