Whether you are self-conscious because you have yellowed teeth from smoking or drinking coffee, or if you just want to look your best, tooth whitening is a sure way to brighten your smile and gain increased confidence in your appearance. Visit one of the best San Diego cosmetic dentists for a brighter smile.
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What is Tooth Whitening?
Tooth whitening falls under the category of cosmetic dentistry. The tooth whitening process eliminates discoloration and stains on the teeth, and can also brighten the natural pigmentation of the teeth. The degree of improvement will depend upon how severely the teeth are stained or discolored as well as the nature of the stains.
Why do teeth get discolored?
Coffee, tea, colas, wines, and certain fruits and vegetables (for example, apples and potatoes) can stain your teeth.
• Tobacco use
Smoking or chewing tobacco can stain teeth
• Poor dental hygiene
Inadequate brushing and flossing to remove plaque and stain-producing substances like coffee and tobacco can cause tooth discoloration.
Several diseases that affect enamel (the hard surface of the teeth) and dentin (the underlying material under enamel) can lead to tooth discoloration. In addition, treatments for certain conditions can also affect tooth color. For example, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can cause teeth discoloration. In addition, certain infections in pregnant mothers can cause tooth discoloration in the infant by affecting enamel development.
The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor teeth when given to children whose teeth are still developing (before the age of 8). Mouth rinses and washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain your teeth. Antihistamines (like Benadryl), antipsychotic drugs, and antihypertensive medications can also cause teeth discoloration.
• Dental materials
Some of the materials used in dentistry, such as amalgam restorations , especially silver sulfide-containing materials, can cast a gray-black color to your teeth.
• Advancing age
As you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow color of dentin.
Some people have naturally brighter or thicker enamel than others.
Excessive fluoride either from environmental sources (naturally high fluoride levels in water) or from excessive use (fluoride applications, rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements taken by mouth) can cause teeth discoloration.
For example, damage from a fall can disturb enamel formation in young children whose teeth are still developing. Trauma can also cause discoloration to adult teeth.
• Teeth have nerves and blood vessels inside them
If these nerves and blood vessels are damaged the tooth may become darker (this can happen because of decay, or if the teeth are knocked).
How Can I Prevent Teeth Discoloration?
By making a few simple lifestyle changes, you may be able to prevent teeth discoloration. For example, if you are a coffee drinker and/or smoker, consider cutting back or quitting all together. Also, improve your dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly and getting your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist every 6 months.
The Basic Idea of Tooth Whitening
The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. Every day, a thin coating forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains. Whitening is not a one-time solution. It will need to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the brighter color.
Before we get into the details of tooth-whitening, let’s take a minute to meet the enemy. What are tooth stains anyway?
Each of your teeth is made up of an inner dentin layer and a hard outer enamel layer, which protects the teeth. When you put stuff in your mouth — food, cigarette smoke, coffee, etc. — another layer gradually forms on top of the enamel layer. Basically, the foreign material accumulates to form a pellicle film over the enamel layer.
A dentist can clean away this film, through scraping and chemical treatments. Even brushing your teeth can knock out some of it — brushing with the abrasive toothpaste cleans the tooth in the same sort of way scrubbing with an abrasive pad cleans a dish. “Whitening toothpastes” are designed to work even harder on this layer.
The problem is, as this pellicle layer sits on your teeth for years and years, the foreign material gets into the enamel. The enamel layer is made up of hydroxyapatite crystals, which form microscopic hexagonal “rods.” Simply put, enamel is porous, which means staining agents can work their way down into the tooth, where you can’t simply scour them away. The deeper stains are basically harmless, but many people find them unattractive.
This is where true tooth whiteners come in. Basically, the whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the tooth enamel and set off a chemical reaction (specifically, an oxidation reaction) that breaks apart the staining compounds.
Most tooth whiteners use one of two chemical agents: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide (the same stuff that will bleach your hair). When used in the mouth, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the active whitening ingredient.
The Three Teeth Whitening Techniques
There are three options available to those considering this procedure – you can either undergo professional bleaching, try home bleaching or use whitening toothpastes.
The most effective teeth whitening techniques available today are in-office laser teeth whitening and at-home teeth whitening with custom-fit trays. Both teeth whitening techniques are best performed under your dentist’s supervision to ensure the safest results.
in-office laser teeth whitening is classified in to two methods(External bleaching) and(internal bleaching)
(External bleaching This means that the color of the teeth is lightened by placing a bleaching gel on the outer (external) surfaces of the teeth. Once again, using bleaching gels in this way may not work for certain types of discoloration, such as that caused by metal fillings or damaged blood vessels inside a tooth. )
(Internal bleaching This means that the color of a tooth is lightened by placing a bleaching product inside the tooth. Internal bleaching can only be done on teeth that have been successfully root treated. This means that the blood vessels and nerves inside the tooth have been replaced with a rubber filling.)
1-Of the three listed, the quickest and the most effective is professional bleaching. It is also referred to as In-Office or Chair-side bleaching. It usually requires two or more visits to a dentist. However, the effects are much long lasting than any other procedure.
In-office teeth whitening methods are performed with bleaching gel and laser light. This is a good method of teeth whitening for sensitive teeth, as the process may be closely monitored by the cosmetic dentist.
Your dentist may put a rubber seal around your teeth to protect your gums depending on concentration of bleaching agent used. Then, the bleaching gel is placed onto your teeth and a special, bright light is used. This light enhances the whitening process. The appointment may take between one to two hours.
2-The second option that is available to you is that of home bleaching.
You can buy a kit from any certified pharmacist or dentist. This kit would usually contain a hydrogen peroxide based bleaching gel or solution. You are supposed to place the solution or gel in the mouth guard and then follow the directions given with the equipment.
The frequency of use and the duration of treatment for home bleaching vary. Overnight treatments work for a much shorter period. However, if you are, say, required to use the kit twice a day, the treatment might be effective for a longer period of time.
3-Whitening toothpastes work in a different way from bleaching techniques because they do not aim towards a permanent alteration of teeth color. They usually contain polishing agents. They work to remove some of the deeper stains, which a regular toothpaste might not effectively dislodge.
How long will the whitening last?
The effects of the teeth whitening should last for 1 to 3 years. Daily brushing and flossing will assist in maintaining the whiteness. The duration of the whiteness will also depend on your personal habits. Drinking red wine, tea, coffee or smoking will shorten the life of the new whiteness. You may want to conduct a re-treatment in the future.
There are some instances when a dentist may recommend that you don’t have bleaching.
If you have tooth decay, this should be treated before starting any whitening treatments.
Similarly, your gums should be healthy, so if you have any gum disease this should be treated.
If your teeth are extremely sensitive to hot and cold food or drinks, bleaching may not be recommended.
Some types of staining (eg tetracycline antibiotic staining) doesn’t respond to bleaching as well as others. Bleaching, if successful, may take longer on tetracycline stained teeth.
Bleaching won’t work on false teeth, crowns, veneers or fillings (including tooth coloured fillings). Instead, your dentist may be able to replace these with lighter ones.
the best candidates for teeth whitening are those who have healthy teeth that do not have a lot of fillings.
Your dentist may want to see you a few days after in-office whitening to check your gums. If your gums were exposed to the whitening agent, they can become irritated.
Whitening is not a permanent solution. The stains will come back. If you smoke or consume a lot of staining foods or drinks, you may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as one month. If you avoid these sources of staining, you may not need another whitening treatment for six to 12 months.
Re-whitening can be done in the dentist’s office or at home.
Disadvantages of tooth whitening
• The most prominent side effect of teeth whitening is that the teeth become sensitive to temperatures. You will feel it when you have hot or cold drinks.
• Sometimes, the whitening becomes uneven. This can occur naturally as the effect of bleach is not even for every tooth. This may even result into patchy appearance on your teeth. The irregular whitening looks as if you have undergone a failed teeth whitening procedure.
• Frequent use of bleach or tooth whitening chemicals may cause removal of your teeth enamel. Teeth enamel helps in preventing decay of your teeth. Hence, there can be increased chances of tooth decay.
• You may also suffer from sore gums immediately after you have completed the teeth whitening procedure. Irritation of gums may also be observed.
• One of the many teeth whitening risks is that the chemicals used in for whitening the teeth may also cause allergic reactions.
• There are also chances of swallowing the chemicals mistakenly. If these chemicals are consumed, you may feel nauseous and even vomit.
• It is not advisable for young people (under16) to undergo teeth whitening. Similarly, pregnant as well lactating women must stay away from it.The effect of the whitening materials on the development of the fetus is not known. Since the procedure is cosmetic, it should be postponed until after delivery.
So what precautions do you need to take in order to prevent these dangers in teeth whitening? The first thing that is recommended is that you must have the procedure done through a dentist.
Most of the side-effects in whitening teeth are temporary , If done properly, you will definitely succeed in having that million dollar smile!
Teeth whitening cost
The cost of teeth whitening varies according to the type of teeth whitening method – whether professional in-office or at-home. In-office teeth whitening may cost between $100 and $800, while at-home bleaching trays that are custom fit by a dentist may cost between $300 and $2,000.
• After teeth whitening, it is necessary to take preventative measures to ensure that your teeth do not become discolored again.
teeth whitening is not permanent and you may experience discoloration after just a few weeks. To prevent new discoloration, avoid eating and drinking things that are known to cause staining, such as coffee, tea, dark wines and sodas and berries. Avoid smoking and brush your teeth regularly to prevent plaque buildup as well. Bleaching isn’t usually recommended for children whose teeth are still developing or for pregnant or breastfeeding women.