Sometimes it’s just the smile you remember. If you’re like most, then a beautiful set of pearly whites is what you hope to show the world.
It isn’t surprising then, that teeth whitening is one of the most popular and fastest-growing cosmetic procedures. When it comes to a whiter and brighter smile, people are willing to put forth their cash to achieve it.
But before jumping into any teeth whitening treatments, it’s important to be informed and understand the pros and cons of the treatment you are about to receive before exposing your teeth to it. Don’t put your oral health at risk with any products or procedures which you are unfamiliar with, and learn the efficacy of teeth whitening before opting to have yours done.
What is teeth whitening and is it safe?
Teeth whitening is a procedure used to help lighten your teeth and remove any stains or discoloration. Teeth whitening is a multi-step process and the whitening process needs to be repeated every so often in order to maintain a bright colour.
Overall, the results of teeth whitening can last up to three years, however, this can vary and will be relatively lower if you consume beverages that stain, smoke, or maintain poor oral hygiene.
Teeth whitening can be a very safe and effective procedure if done correctly using the right type of tools. There is a wide range of options available for whitening your teeth, including at-home bleaching kits and special toothpaste, as well as treatments that can be performed at the dental office.
Whichever method of whitening you decide, you must ensure to be fully informed and educated about the possible risks involved and follow any and all instructions correctly. If you opt to have teeth whitening done professionally, choose your dentist wisely, as only professionally certified dentists should be performing teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening may sometimes be performed in unregistered beauty salons and shops, however, it can be risky. Similarly, teeth whitening kits that are bought over-the-counter or through online sources can also be a safety hazard because it can be difficult to know whether the level of bleach they contain is safe to use.
Teeth whitening focuses on the removal of surface stains which are found in the microscopic pores of your teeth. The bleach used to remove the stains does not penetrate inside the depths of your tooth and therefore does not affect or damage the enamel of your teeth.
What causes teeth to stain?
A number of factors can play a role in the slow but steady staining of your teeth over time. Some of the main staining agents include:
- Tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks
If you’re a frequent black tea or coffee drinker and consume multiple cups of either or on a daily basis, your teeth can take on a yellowish or darker shade over time due to the chemicals in these beverages. Additionally, the food colouring found in carbonated drinks can also cause staining of your teeth.
Not only are cigarettes bad for your overall health but they can be terrible for your teeth. Tobacco in cigarettes is one of the worst staining factors for your teeth.
- Red Wine
The dark purple grapes which are used to make red wine can stain your teeth as well.
One way to avoid your teeth coming in contact with beverages that stain them is to use a straw, so that your teeth do not remain in contact with the staining beverages for too long. However, this cannot always be possible and in many cases, avoiding carbonated drinks and excessive coffee is better for your overall health as well.
Teeth Whitening: The Process
There are two main types of whitening procedures, which include vital whitening and non-vital whitening. The difference between the two is the type of teeth they are performed on. Vital whitening is performed on teeth with live nerves whereas non-vital whitening is performed on a tooth that has had root-canal treatment and therefore does not have a live nerve.
When you undergo vital whitening at the dentist’s office, a gel containing some form of hydrogen peroxide is applied directly to the surface of the teeth. This gel is usually more powerful than the ones provided in home-whitening kits. This gel is then activated by a special light or laser which begins the bleaching process.
The whitening usually takes about 30 to 90 minutes and requires one to three visits to complete the process. The number of visits is based on the method of whitening being used and the extent of staining on your teeth.
Non-vital whitening is slightly different and is performed on teeth which have had a root-canal. These teeth require placement of the whitening agent inside of the tooth, after which a temporary filling is placed over the tooth and left this way for a few days. Usually, this will only need to be done once for the tooth or until it reaches the shade of white you prefer.
Is teeth whitening the right choice for me?
Before making any decisions related to your oral health, it is recommended that you visit a dental professional who can provide a complete examination of your teeth, diagnose any problems if any, and help you decide whether you are a candidate for teeth whitening.
In most cases, the dentist will give you the go-ahead for teeth whitening and you are likely to be pleasantly surprised with the results, however, there are some patients for whom teeth whitening may not be suitable.
If you’ve had previous work done on your teeth such as dental restorations – crowns, bridges, porcelain veneers, or fillings – then the bleach used to whiten your teeth may not be able to work on all your teeth.
Overall, teeth whitening is a safe and effective procedure to help brighten your smile, however, once it is completed it can cause your teeth to become sensitive to temperature, pressure, touch, and cause mild gum irritation.
All of these are temporary and if they progress for longer than expected or become severe in nature, you should see a dental professional right away.
Teeth Whitening: Aftercare
If you properly care for your teeth post-whitening, your newly brightened smile will be able to show off its new results. It’s important to avoid any dark-coloured foods and beverages for a period of at least 48 hours after the whitening procedure has been completed.
Immediately following the whitening procedure, the enamel of your teeth remains porous and when any dark coloured foods or drinks are consumed, they can easily penetrate the outer surface of enamel and cause your teeth to stain. Maintain your newly whitened smile by not only avoiding staining beverages but also practicing good oral hygiene daily to keep your smile shining bright.
If you’re looking for a smile enhancement and upgrading the colour of your teeth, then whitening is just the procedure for you.