What is teeth whitening?
What is teeth whitening?
Your teeth are like sponges. Just like your skin, they absorb stains.
If you brush regularly and properly, you floss and clean in-between your teeth every day, but you still do not like the ‘yellowish’ colour of your teeth, and you are considering making them whiter and whiter; you are considering teeth whitening.
Why did my teeth change color?
•Food and drinks: Tea, coffee, red wine are examples of drinks that can stain your teeth. These foods contain substances called chromogens and they stain the outer portion of your teeth called enamel.
•Age: Due to ageing and long years of brushing, the outer portion of your teeth wears down. This outer portion is the white enamel. The layer beneath the enamel called the dentin is more yellowish and as the enamel wears down, the dentin shows up.
•Tobacco Use: Tar and nicotine are found in tobacco. Tar is naturally dark while nicotine which is colorless turns to a staining substance once it mixes with oxygen.
•Medication: Discoloration can be a side effect of some drugs you have used to take care of yourself. In young children, antibiotics such as tetracycline whether used directly by the child or used by the mother while the baby was in the womb, can cause staining for the baby later in adult life.
Ageing, medication (and tooth trauma) often lead to discoloration within the teeth while smoking habits, food and beverages lead to discoloration on the outside of the tooth.
How does it work?
Whitening products contain hydrogen and carbamide peroxides. These are the major chemicals in teeth whitening substances. Stains on your teeth are broken down into smaller fragments by these substances. When this happens, their stain color is not so concentrated and your teeth are whiter.
Does teeth whitening work on all types of teeth?
It is good to consult your dentist to know whether teeth whitening can work for you. It does not work on crowns, fillings and veneers or other kinds of ‘false’ teeth. It also does not work in some cases when the discoloration is caused by medications. Teeth whitening might also not be suitable for you if you have gum disease.
What are the ways you can whiten your teeth?
Again, it is advisable to consult your dentist before you decide on the best way to whiten your teeth. The different and general ways to whiten your teeth are:
•In-Office bleaching administered by your dentist.
•At-Home bleaching worked out for you by your dentist.
•Over-the-Counter bleaching used on the advice of your dentist.
There are also a few do-it-yourself, at-home tooth-whitening products like kits, strips, toothpastes and rinses. In choosing the perfect teeth whitening option for you, your dentist will look at your type of discoloration, age, dental history among other things.
Are there side effects?
Although it varies from people to people, a side effect of teeth whitening is tooth and gum sensitivity.
Talk to your dentist before you go ahead with teeth whitening to assess the possible risks and side effects with respect to the different teeth whitening methods.
Is teeth whitening permanent?
Teeth whitening is not permanent. It can last from just a few months to three years depending on some factors such as whether you take coffee, tea, red wine, smoke or take any other substance that can stain the teeth.
This article does not however, substitute the professional care you should receive from your healthcare provider.
You can also read our article on health secrets your teeth can reveal here.