Even if you brush and floss your teeth every day to keep them healthy and white, you may still feel the lack of sparkle in your smile. You’re not alone. Many people find teeth whitening as the only effective way to lighten the color of their teeth. Unlike home whitening with the help of low dose of whitening agent, professional teeth whitening or bleaching is carefully monitored by your dentist, is more safe and predictably much more effective.
Situations When You Need Teeth Whitening
Over the time, your teeth become less bright because of different reasons.
- Intense colored food and drinks
Coffee, tea, red wine and other deeply colored beverages and food affect your teeth, causing staining culprits. Moreover, acidic food, such as oranges, provokes enamel erosion, making the tooth surface more transparent and yellowish.
There is a direct correlation between the patient’s age and teeth darkening. Below the hard enamel part of your teeth there is a soft area called dentin. In the course of time, the enamel gets thinner and yellowish dentin shows up.
Your teeth can change their color as a response to injury by exposing the darker layer of dentin. Injures may also result in cracking teeth that collect stains and debris. Damaged blood vessels in the teeth can also cause the teeth to darken 2-3 weeks after injury.
Sometimes, teeth darkening can be a consequence of some medications, especially, antipsychotics, antihistamines, tetracycline and high blood pressure medications. Chemotherapy as well as head or neck radiation can also cause teeth darkening.
- Natural Color
All people have their inborn teeth color that range from yellow and brown to gray and greenish which can intensify over the years. Yellow and brown teeth are usually most responsive to tooth whitening than greenish and gray ones.
- Grinding habit
In severe cases, teeth grinding may cause cracks in the teeth, therefore, making the biting parts to darken.
What Is the Procedure of Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is made with the help of teeth bleaches (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) that remove stains and make your teeth brighter. Once an active ingredient of a whitening product is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel and makes the teeth color lighter. Teeth whitening is a simple procedure. First, your dentist will put some gel or a shield on your gums to protect them. Then, a whitening agent will be applied to your teeth. To fix the result, your dentist will use light before washing the whitening agent off. Sometimes, an in-office whitening is followed by a course of home whitening treatments. Before you start whitening procedures, make sure that your teeth and gums are dentally suitable and healthy to withstand whitening.
Who Can’t Be a Candidate for Teeth Whitening?
- Professional whitening is not recommended for patients under 16 years old. It is because the tooth nerve is growing until this age and whitening can be too aggressive.
- Teeth whitening is not recommended in case you are pregnant or breastfeed.
- Sensitive teeth and gums, receding gums can be a contraindication for teeth whitening. If you are allergic to peroxide, whitening shouldn’t be used as well.
- Patients with gum disease, cavities and exposed roots are usually discouraged from the procedure.
- Crowns, Veneers, fillings and other types of restoration can’t be whitened. That is why, using a whitening agent on the teeth that have restoration will result in uneven whitening. In this case, veneers or bonding may become a better option.
- Teeth whitening is not effective if your teeth are gray or greenish by nature.
Teeth Whitening After Root Canal
Once you have a root canal, you may notice the difference between your natural teeth and those that have undergone a root canal. The latter ones are usually darker and duller. As the problem comes from inside the tooth, traditional whitening won’t be effective. However, another procedure called internal or non-vital bleaching may be performed at the same time as a root canal or after the treatment. First, a root canal is made to remove infected pulp. Then, sodium perborate sulfate is put deep inside of the tooth. This safe material reacts with stains making your teeth whiter. After root canal treatment, the tooth is sealed to avoid further damage.
How Long Will My Teeth Stay White?
The effect of teeth whitening can last from 6 months to 2-3 years, but everything depends on a person. Your teeth will remain whiter less, in case you smoke, are addicted to drinking coffee, cola, tea and other products that stain your teeth.
Are There Any Risks To Have My Teeth Whitened?
One of the possible side effects is increased teeth sensitivity to cold. Some patients experience discomfort in the gums, complain about a sore throat and white patches on the gums. These symptoms are temporary and usually disappear within a few days after the whitening.
You can help keep your teeth white by limiting intense colored foods and drinks (ex. coffee and red wine) in your diet. Take proper care of your teeth: brush and floss them regularly, use fluoride toothpaste, cut down sugary foods and drinks. Regular dental check-ups will prevent your teeth from discoloration and severe staining.