Shine bright like a diamond, apart from Rihanna’s popular song, we could also associate the feeling with our teeth!
Teeth whitening is not a new invention. People have been choosing this cosmetic dental procedure to get whiter teeth for years. However, the procedure has changed and improved over the years, and today’s teeth whitening is a much safer and less invasive process than it was in the past.
Some people want to get rid of stains and discolouration; while others want to appear younger and have a more attractive smile. Having white teeth can help people feel more confident and less self-conscious about their teeth.
Teeth whitening is an easy and safe procedure that is done in the dentist’s office. However, before you choose to whiten your teeth, it is important to learn the facts. Before jumping into the details, let’s have a quick recap of the basics of teeth whitening.
What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is a way to make teeth whiter to improve the appearance of your smile. There are two main ways that teeth whitening can be performed, either with whitening products used in the dental office or products that can be used at home.
What caused your teeth to discolour?
Tooth discolouration happens naturally and is influenced by your regular oral habits. Ageing is another factor in teeth becoming yellow; as you grow older, your tooth enamel wears down and results in yellowing. Discolouration can be staining present on the outside surface of teeth (extrinsic) or darkness emulating from the inside (intrinsic).
Some of your regular habits that cause teeth to discolour are:
- Drinking coffee, red wine or fizzy/aerated drinks
- Consuming foods rich in colour
- Accumulation of plaque or tartar over time
Can you get rid of discolouration?
Superficial staining can be removed either by having a good clean and polish with the dental hygienist or tooth whitening. If there is discoloured dark Enamel, it should whiten!
Can I go for Over-the-counter(OTC) or DIY teeth whitening kits?
Over-the-counter products are easily available and affordable but they may contain chemicals that in the long run do more harm than good to your overall oral health. Bleaching products are more powerful and so are harmful to your gums and may cause severe irritation.
On the other hand, home remedies such as using baking soda and lemon juice are acidic and cause abrasion which causes the enamel to weaken or wear away.
Can I Prevent my tooth from discolouration?
Like they say, prevention is better than cure, it holds true in the case of teeth whitening as well. If you are happy with the current shade of your teeth, you can do your best to keep it that way. This will help you avoid considering whitening treatments.
You can start by avoiding the activities or habits we talked about earlier. While natural factors such as age can lead to the yellowing of teeth, your everyday habits, such as diet, smoking, coffee/tea intake also play a role in it.
PRO TIP: Avoid brushing right after having something sweet or acidic. The acid tends to break down the tooth enamel. Instead, take a mouthful of water and swish-rinse your mouth soon after. If you still would like to brush, leave at least thirty minutes after having something sweet and sixty minutes after something acidic.
What’s the process of teeth whitening?
There are generally two types of tooth whitening procedures, after a thorough assessment and considering your suitability-
- Take home kits- your dentist would take an impression/ digital scan for close-fitting tooth whitening trays to be made. A demonstration on how to use them along with the tooth whitening gel prescribed and generally supplied by your dentist is done. Clear instructions on its use are given for you to then carry on using the product at home until a desired shade is achieved.
- In office tooth whitening- An impression or a digital scan is still taken for the manufacture of custom made whitening trays is done firstly. Then you would be booked for a fairly long session where the tooth whitening products are applied onto your teeth repeatedly with a bright lamp being shone on as an adjunct. Once this is done the custom made trays are then given out to you to continue and top up at home.
In all honesty, if you are not in a hurry it’s easier and perhaps more economical to use the at home products !
- Internal whitening- If the tooth has got discoloration coming from the inside of the tooth due to the tooth losing vitality or due to trauma then a more specialized treatment called internal whitening is utilized. This is where the dentist would ask you to apply the gel to the inside part of your tooth at regular intervals to speed up the process. Once the tooth matches the adjacent teeth, then generalized whitening of the rest of your teeth can carry on.
Am I eligible for Tooth Whitening?
Most people are a candidate for tooth whitening treatment if they have mild to moderate discolouration. However, discolouration caused by certain factors cannot be fixed by treatment procedures. Some of these factors are:
- Synthetic fixtures such as dental crowns, caps, fillings, porcelain veneers, or dental bonding do not respond to bleaching products or the treatment. You may have to consider getting these replaced to make them appear whiter.
- Tougher the stains, the harder it would be to get rid of them! If there is severe loss of enamel and areas of dentin (layer of natural tooth material under the enamel) exposed, then this may not change shade.
- Stains appearing from the inside of the tooth may need more specialized treatment as discussed above and sometimes may not give a total desired effect.
How do I make the right choice?
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with so many options in front of you. Not to worry, we’ll clear that up for you!
The first step you need to take is to consult with your dentist and talk to them about what you are deciding to go for. They will help you understand which is best based on the assessment they do regarding your overall oral condition.
The next step is to understand how white you want your teeth to be based on their current colour. Further, consider how much time you are willing to dedicate. We hope you have arrived at a decision by now. If you are still feeling confused about how to go about the whole process or what treatment method to choose, we are here to help you. Consult with our expert dentists who will assess you and suggest an option that suits you the best.
On the whole, as much as whitening procedures help a great deal in restoring your confidence and smiling bright, your habits determine how long they’ll last. It is advisable to reconsider smoking and monitor your dietary habits.
Smile bright and laugh heartily!