Teeth whitening, also known as bleaching, refers to any procedure that enhances the whiteness of teeth. It is a non-invasive treatment aimed at brightening and whitening teeth that are stained, discolored, darkened, or yellowed. This technique became widely known in the 1980s and has gained significant popularity since then. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the most common answer when people were asked what they would like to improve about their smile was having whiter and brighter teeth.
The perception of tooth whiteness is influenced by how light is reflected and scattered off the outermost layer of the tooth called enamel. Teeth may appear dark or discolored due to various reasons. External tooth stains are often caused by the consumption of certain foods and tobacco. On the other hand, internal tooth discoloration can be attributed to genetic factors, certain medications, tooth decay, restorations, or trauma. Furthermore, the natural aging process can contribute to the yellowish tones of teeth as the outer layer of enamel gradually becomes thinner, revealing the underlying layer of dentin.
What benefits does a dentist-officiated professional teeth whitening process offer?
Over-the-counter teeth whitening systems have gained popularity, both for purchase in stores and online. However, it is important to acknowledge the health concerns and limitations associated with these products. If the instructions provided by the manufacturers are not followed correctly, certain products have the potential to harm the teeth and soft tissues in the mouth, and may not provide the promised results.
Teeth whitening systems typically contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which function as bleaching agents. It is important to note that teeth whitening procedures may not be suitable for individuals with sensitive teeth, exposed roots, cavities, broken fillings, cracked teeth, or loose dental work. Additionally, when planning for treatment, the presence of dental fillings, crowns, or bridges should be considered as teeth whitening systems do not alter their color. This consideration is crucial for cosmetic purposes.
Generally, individuals with yellow-toned teeth tend to respond better to teeth whitening procedures. On the other hand, teeth with brown or grayish tints may require longer periods of dentist-supervised tooth whitening or alternative cosmetic treatments.
Lastly, it is important to exercise caution when considering teeth whitening if you have sensitive teeth, worn enamel, or significant gum disease, as it may not be recommended in these cases.
Typically, the most beneficial and efficient methods for brightening teeth are those that are supervised and administered by a dentist. A teeth whitening procedure carried out by a dentist in their clinic is the most dependable and safest approach to attain optimal results rapidly. In just one hour, a dentist-performed in-office whitening procedure, utilizing a prescription-strength solution, can substantially lighten and enhance the natural color of teeth by several shades. This process ensures that the surrounding tissues and any sensitive areas of the teeth are carefully shielded from the bleaching agents.
Moreover, an excellent alternative is a home whitening system provided by a dentist, which consists of custom-fitted trays for the teeth. The custom trays effectively maintain close contact between the bleaching agent and the teeth, while keeping it away from the other areas of the mouth. Although a home whitening system takes longer to achieve maximum results compared to an in-office procedure, it can still deliver remarkable outcomes over time.
Furthermore, a home whitening system can be used independently or as recommended by a dentist as a follow-up to an in-office procedure, ensuring the perfection or maintenance of the desired results.