Teeth whitening refers to a variety of processes that aim to make someone’s natural teeth appear brighter and whiter. The American Dental Association (ADA) describes “whitening” as any process that will make teeth appear whiter, using one of two ways:
– A product can bleach the tooth, therefore changing the natural tooth color. A bleach contains peroxide that helps remove deep and surface stains.
– A non-bleaching whitening product contains substances that help remove surface stains only.
Teeth whitening can be done in several ways, including in-office bleaching, dentist-supervised at-home bleaching, and over-the-counter products. In-office bleaching is done while you are in the dental chair, while dentist-supervised at-home bleaching is more economical and gives the same results in many cases. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they may not provide the same dramatic improvement as professional treatment options.
Teeth whitening can be effective on both extrinsic and intrinsic staining, but only natural teeth can be whitened, not tooth-colored restorations. Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are commonly used in whitening interventions and can readily permeate dental hard tissues. Temporary tooth sensitivity and gingival inflammation are the most common adverse effects of vital tooth whitening.
Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be carried out by a dentist or another regulated dental professional, such as a dental hygienist or dental therapist, on the prescription of a dentist. Laser whitening, also known as power whitening, is another type of teeth whitening system that a dentist can provide. A bleaching product is painted onto your teeth, and then a light or laser is shone on them to activate the whitening. Laser whitening takes about an hour.
The most common side effect of teeth whitening is temporary tooth sensitivity, and mouth and gum irritation is also common. People with dental implants, veneers, crowns, or bridges might not be candidates for teeth whitening, depending on the location of this dental work. If it is in the back of the mouth, a person may still receive whitening, but if it is in the front of the mouth, whitening is not recommended. It’s important to note that teeth whitening treatments are usually not covered by health insurance.
Some hesitations someone might have when it comes to teeth whitening include:
- Tooth sensitivity: One of the most common side effects of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity, which can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. Whitening products can cause temporary damage to the enamel, leading to increased sensitivity.
- Gum irritation: Overuse or misuse of teeth whitening products can lead to gum irritation, which can be uncomfortable and painful. Ill-fitting teeth whitening strips or trays used for at-home whitening treatments can also exacerbate gum irritation.
- Enamel damage: Overuse or misuse of teeth whitening products can lead to enamel damage, which can cause discoloration and other dental problems.
- Pre-existing dental issues: People with pre-existing dental issues, such as sensitive teeth or gum disease, may not be good candidates for teeth whitening. The strong bleaching agent used in professional treatments could cause pain and discomfort if you have sensitive teeth, and you may have to manage your gum disease before undergoing professional teeth whitening.
- Cost: Professional teeth whitening can be more expensive than at-home treatments.
- Fear of pain: Some people may be hesitant to undergo teeth whitening because they are worried about pain and discomfort during or after the procedure. However, the treatment itself doesn’t cause any pain, and any sensitivity or discomfort can usually be managed with a special gel or pain reliever.
Teeth whitening can provide many benefits, including making your smile look more attractive and boosting your self-confidence. Here are some of the benefits of teeth whitening:
- Improved appearance: One of the most obvious benefits of teeth whitening is that it instantly gives you a brighter, more appealing smile. Professional teeth whitening can remove deep stains that regular brushing cannot remove, making your teeth look brighter and healthier.
- Boost in self-confidence: With teeth whitening, your self-confidence will skyrocket. A whiter, brighter smile is often seen as being more attractive than a yellow or discolored one, and people with an attractive smile are regarded as more intelligent and successful.
- Improved oral health: Professional teeth whitening can help to improve your oral health by removing stains and discoloration from your teeth. This can help to make your teeth look brighter and healthier, and can also help to reduce the risk of cavities and other oral health problems.
- Quick and easy: Teeth whitening is a quick and easy cosmetic treatment that can be done in a dental office or at home. Professional teeth whitening can achieve dramatic results fast, by lightening both tooth enamel and the underlying dentin in a procedure tailored to your individual needs.
- Safer and more comfortable: Professional dentists provide safer tooth whitening treatment options because they’re the experts. They’ll also carefully monitor your teeth’s progress to ensure they’re not exposed to any damage. Your teeth are completely protected from attack through the adjustment of the whitening agent’s concentration, which only the dentist knows the right amount.
- Affordable: Teeth whitening is an affordable cosmetic treatment that can boost your self-confidence and produce life-changing benefits at an extraordinarily low cost given the benefits it brings.
Overall, teeth whitening can provide many benefits, both cosmetic and health-related. It’s important to consult with a dentist before undergoing any teeth whitening treatment to determine the best approach for your specific needs.