If your teeth have lost their white healthy appearance you are not alone. Aging, diet, injuries along with many other factors cause teeth to dull and yellow. Whitening is a mild bleaching process using varying concentrations of carbamide peroxide (a hydrogen peroxide derivative) that restores stained or discolored teeth to a whiter, brighter colour. It is very safe under the supervision of a dental professional.
Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to whitening. Other types of stains (i.e. gray) by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline can be lightened but with less than satisfactory results. Those can be treated with dazzling porcelain veneers.
Ways of teeth whitening
- In-office bleaching. This procedure is called chair-side bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the oral soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light may be used. Lasers have been used during tooth whitening procedures to enhance the action of the whitening agent.
- At-home bleaching. Peroxide-containing whiteners actually bleach the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a specially constructed and fitted tray. Usage regimens vary. The only potential side effects are: temporary increase in sensitivity or gum irritation. Speak with Dr. Preis if you have any questions.
- Whitening toothpastes. All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. “Whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface. Please refer to hydrated silica info in the Home Care tips for patients.
Whitening toothpastes contain silica abrasive (most often hydrated silica ). They are approximately 10 times as abrasive as regular brands and greatly contribute to tooth wear, especially that one tends to brush harder to obtain better “whitening” result. It is advisable to avoid daily use of whitening toothpastes and use them only periodically to remove persistent stains.
The results from Whitening can last for as long as a year and with touch-ups treatments (at home) results can be almost permanent.
Please remember that whitening process affect only the natural tooth enamel and any restorations in the whitened teeth may need to be refreshed or redone.
Dr. Preis will be happy to discuss with you pros and cons of teeth whitening in your case.
Hydrated Silica: A whitener that damages tooth enamel.
Hydrated silica, which is primarily used as an abrasive in toothpaste, is made from a crystallized compound found in quartz, sand, and flint. Tooth enamel re-mineralizes daily from the supply of ionic calcium and phosphorus in the saliva. Scratching the surface of the tooth with an abrasive such as hydrated silica harms the enamel and prevents re-mineralization, much like using sand to clean glass. Severe wear could eventually occur.
Products containing the ingredients silica and cellulose, in particular, should be avoided when gum disease, tooth decay, sensitivity and receding gums are present. While these ingredients can remove tartar and make teeth whiter in appearance, they also may do harm to dental health by altering the acidic balance of the mouth, gums and tongue and are often the main reason for tooth sensitivity.