Daily brushing and flossing are the commonest ways to keep your teeth bright, aesthetic and healthy. Still, if you might feel like your smile is lacking some expected sparkle or is more discoloured than it used to be, you’re not alone,TEETH WHITENING is the answer.
When DENTAL CHANNEL NG CREW asked people what they’d most like to improve about their smile, the most common response was whiter teeth. Many dental clinics in Nigeria can also attest to it that larger percentage of patients often request tooth whitening in the recent times.
Thinking about teeth whitening? Get the facts first. Here are five of the most commonly asked questions about the process.
- WHY DID MY FORMERLY WHITE TEETH GRADUALLY CHANGE COLOUR?
Most of us often notice the sharp difference in whiteness between baby teeth and adult teeth and we complain but get no positive response. Generally speaking, baby teeth are whiter than adult teeth. Over time, our teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for a number of reasons:
FOOD AND DRINK
Coffee & tea lovers often battle with this time to time, red wine consumers are also not left behind. What do they have in common? Intense colour pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth called Enamel. This pigment becomes internalised into teeth structure and change the appearance of all the teeth
TAR & NICOTINE are two chemical ingredients found in tobacco that create stubborn stains on consumers’ teeth. When one consumes tobacco in any form, one will be exposed to their effects. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colourless until it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into a yellowish, surface-staining substance. No wonder smokers’ teeth changes from white to yellow to brown and to black over time. This too change the appearance of all the teeth
Below the hard, white outer shell of your teeth (enamel) is a softer area called dentine. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentine shows through. This also change the appearance of all the teeth. You can read more about dental issues with ageing here
This is seen as colour change on the affected tooth especially front upper teeth. If you’ve been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change colour because it reacts to a long term pulp injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel. Many often come to the clinic due to a discoloured front tooth which they have been keeping for long.
Babies who are exposed to antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxycycline when their teeth are developing either in the womb or during breastfeeding may have brown discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Tooth darkening can be a side effect of some anti-hypertensive and anti-allergy drugs. Cancer drugs and head and neck x-ray radiation can also darken teeth after a long time.
- HOW DOES TEETH WHITENING WORK?
Teeth whitening done by dentists is not harmful and it is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaching agents which are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These bleaching agents break stains into smaller pieces, and make the dark colour pigments less concentrated and your teeth become brighter.
- CAN ALL TEETH BE WHITENED?
This is a sort of bad news to some people. THE ANSWER IS NO, which is why it’s important to talk to a certified dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as bleaching agents may not whiten all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as expected and teeth with grey tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on restored tooth which has dental crowns, filling materials which are artificial. It also won’t be very effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by drugs or a tooth injury.
- WHAT ARE MY WHITENING OPTIONS?
Talk to your dentist before starting. If you are a candidate, there are four ways to put the shine back in your smile:
Whitening/ Stain Removal Toothpastes
Generally speaking, all toothpastes have mild abrasives that help remove surface stain as one scrub the teeth. Look for whitening toothpastes that have earned the FDI seal of acceptance for stain removal (it will tell you on the package). These toothpastes have additional polishing agents that are safe for your teeth and provide stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these types of products do not change the colour of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface. READ MORE ABOUT TOOTHPASTE HERE
This procedure is called In-Office Bleaching and usually requires only one dental office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect your gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth under an hour.
At-Home Bleaching from Your Dentist
The dentist can provide you with a customised tray for at-home whitening. In this case, the dentist will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time. This may be a preferred option if you feel more comfortable whitening in your own home at a slower pace, but still with the guidance of a dentist. Out-of-office bleaching can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products
In this present days, one may see different options online especially on Facebook or Instagram or in your local grocery store, such as toothpastes or strips that whiten by bleaching your teeth. The concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than what your dentist would use in the office. If you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, discuss options with your dentist and look for one with the FDI Seal of Acceptance. That means it has been tested to be safe and effective for teeth whitening.
- ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS FROM TEETH WHITENING?
Some people who use teeth whiteners may experience tooth sensitivity. That happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth. In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay treatment, then try again.
Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.