Most Common Teeth Whitening Procedures

By: Lesley Lyon

Teeth whitening is recommended for those who have had no treatments done like filling to their teeth. People with yellowish tint on their teeth will have a better result of teeth whitening. Toothpastes contain a mild abrasive that cleans the teeth, only on the surface level. But bleaching or professional whitening solutions have hydrogen peroxide that enables a deeper action in the teeth.

The factors that affect the color of the teeth are tobacco in any form, coffee, tea, wine, high pigmented foods, tartar and too much fluoride during the teeth formation phase. The external or visible marks can be removed through intensive cleaning solutions and more intrinsic ones can be whitened thorough bleaching treatment. Only a dentist can decide the appropriate type of treatment depending on the level and the type of stains and tooth specifications.

Generally, there are three methods available for teeth whitening namely whitening toothpaste, bleaching at home and over the counter strips.

Whitening toothpaste: Teeth can get whiter with whitening toothpaste but at the dentist there can be 3 to 8 level difference from actual tooth color. Whitening gels are based on the peroxide element, which is applied using a small brush on the surface of the teeth. This system is advisable for bi-daily use over a 14-day period. The main appealing feature of this type of whitening products are their cheap price as compared to a professional care.

Bleaching at home: This procedure requires the filling of mouth guard tray with a gel containing a bleaching agent of peroxide based solution. This tray must be worn around one hour everyday for around 4 weeks or more depending on the amount of stain to be removed.

Strips: Strips have a light coating of peroxide gel on them and are almost invisible due to their thinness. Applying for 30 minutes twice a day for 14 days gives visible results.

At home whitening is the most common method where the dentist manufactures a tray filled with whitening gel and applies to the teeth for a couple of hours daily for 14 days. Whereas in office whitening which is a little costlier, the teeth are applied with gel only on the restricted area isolating the gums through a rubber shield. The bleaching agent is applied to the teeth and this session may last for half to one hour.

The risks associated with teeth whitening are a high sensitivity in the teeth or some kind of irritation of the gums or other tissues. Sensitivity is noticed at the beginning of the bleaching process whereas irritation of soft tissues, mainly, is due to the wrong fitting of trays rather than the bleaching agent itself. These drawbacks can be overcome by not using the tray for longer periods, discontinuously the whitening process for some days, using a high fluoride content to restore the mineral level of the teeth and using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.

Teeth whiteners are not regulated by FDA since they are not drugs.

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