All the Teeth Whitening Basics You Should Know
What is teeth whitening?
In a nutshell, teeth whitening is a process that lightens the teeth and helps remove discolouration and stains. Teeth whitening is without doubt one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures available nowadays since it can help improve the teeth’s look dramatically.
What is teeth whitening for?
Every day, pellicles (thin coating) form on the teeth’s enamel and picks up stains. In addition, the tooth enamel also has pores that can also hold stains. There are several reasons for teeth to get stained and yellow and some of the most prevalent include:
- Not taking proper care of the teeth
- Drinking dark-coloured beverages like tea, coffee, and red wine
In addition, ageing can also make the teeth less bright as the dentin gets darker and the enamel gets thinner. Teeth whitening is considered effective on extrinsic or surface stains.
How is teeth whitening done?
There are two primary types of teeth whitening procedures. Vital whitening is done on teeth that has live nerves. Non-vital whitening on the other hand is performed on teeth that has undergone root canal treatment and no longer has a live nerve.
Vital whitening is considered the most common type of teeth whitening. It makes use of a gel that is directly applied to the tooth’s surface.
Ideally, teeth whitening should be done by a dentist. For in-office whitening, your dentist will use a powerful whitening gel. Laser or a specialised light will be used to activate the gel so bleaching can happen faster.
The procedure will often take 30 to 90 minutes and will most likely require 1 to 3 appointments. The number of sessions needed will depend on a few key factors such as the method used, how white you want your teeth to be, and how severe the stains are.
Vital whitening won’t be an effective option for those who want to whiten teeth that has had root canal treatment since the stain is from the inside of the tooth. In similar cases, a different approach will be taken.
In non-vital whitening, the whitening agent is placed inside the tooth and a temporary filling is placed over it after. The treated tooth will be left as it is for several days. Oftentimes, the procedure is done only once. However, it can also be repeated until the desired shade is achieved.
What are the risks involved?
Teeth whitening has not been known to cause any serious side effects although some may report a little teeth sensitivity for a short period of time. Some people may also get mild gum irritation.
Is teeth whitening for you?
Teeth whitening is not considered a permanent solution. If you smoke and consume a lot of staining foods and beverages, the whiteness can fade in as little as a month. However, if you avoid any sources of staining, you’ll likely won’t need another teeth whitening treatment in the next 6 to 12 months.