Types Of Teeth Whitening Treatments and Risk Associated With Them
Teeth Whitening Treatments: What Are the Options Available?
Tooth discoloration is a common problem, but there’s a wide range of teeth whitening products available these days, depending on your budget, comfort, time (you can spare for treatment) and the amount of discoloration/staining. Let’s look at why this happens and how it can be treated.
Common Reasons for Tooth Discoloration
When teeth get stained, it’s usually due to enamel damage. Enamel is a hard coating that protects our teeth, but it can get eroded or stained due to:
- Ageing – It’s normal for teeth to darken with age, especially if exposed to stain-promoting materials. Teeth whitening treatments can help at any age, but you may need to opt for more intensive stain removal as you get older.
- Wear and Tear – Tooth enamel constantly comes under attack from bacteria, acids and even chewing/biting actions. Over time, it can become worn out and transparent, allowing the yellow-hued core of the tooth (dentin) to show through.
- Color – Just like skin and hair color, our teeth may range from yellowish-brown to greenish-grey hues as we age, based on the tooth color we’re born with. Yellowish-brown hues are usually easier to whiten.
- Transparency – Teeth that are thin and translucent have less pigment, making them more prone to staining, and less responsive to bleaching. Thicker, opaque teeth tend to look lighter and are easier to whiten.
- Diet – Regular consumption of dark-colored foods and beverages (such as red wine, cola, tea, coffee, carrots and oranges) or acidic/enamel-eroding foods (such as sugar, vinegar and citrus fruits) can promote discoloration.
- Bruxism/Injury – Stress-induced tooth grinding/gnashing can lead to small cracks in teeth, as well as darkening of biting edges. Large cracks in teeth (caused by falls or other trauma) are also prone to collecting debris and stains over time.
- Drug/Chemical Exposure – Teeth exposed to tetracycline during their formative stage will develop tough grey/brown ribbon stains, while the excessive use of fluoride can lead to mottled white patches from fluorosis
- Smoking – Tobacco use can cause both intrinsic (interior) and extrinsic (surface) discoloration, since the brownish deposit from nicotine builds up on the surface and soaks into the tooth structure as well.
Teeth Whitening Options: An Overview of Benefits and Risks
The most popular teeth whitening treatments include:
- OTC (Over-the-Counter) Products – These include whitening toothpastes, gels, rinses, whitening trays and strips. Toothpastes generally include mild abrasives that whiten teeth without bleaching, but all other OTC products typically include peroxide or other bleaching agents.
They are quite cheap when compared to professional whitening options, but results might be inconsistent or ineffective.
- Custom-Fitted Trays – Similar to OTC trays, these are more comfortable since they’re customized to fit your teeth perfectly. Store-bought trays can allow the bleaching gel to leak and irritate your gums or cause tooth sensitivity, so you may not be able to use them for as long as required.
Your dentist can also suggest the duration of use or other products that you should use alongside.
- In-Office Bleaching – If you want dramatic whitening, in-office treatment offers the best results. The dentist will use a stronger peroxide concentration than in OTC or at-home whitening trays, the effects of which may also be enhanced with formatted lights or dental lasers.
Dental lights allow the bleaching gel to penetrate your tooth more deeply, and you may also be prescribed an at-home solution to use after the treatment.
Whether you choose to whiten your teeth at home or opt for professional treatment, remember that the results are not permanent. You need to follow proper oral hygiene, dental cleaning and regular whitening to maintain your pearly whites for longer!
Author Bio :
Amruta Patel is a warm and compassionate dentist caring for the community of San Antonio, TX. Dr. Patel attended Marquette University, where she received both her dental degree and her bachelor’s degree.
Dr. Patel practices at All About Smiles, where she provides cosmetic braces, endodontic treatments, implants, and veneers, as well as basic general dental services. She welcomes patients who speak English, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, and Gujarati to her practice.
Outside of practicing dentistry, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs. During her consultations, Dr. Patel fully explains patients’ conditions and helps them choose an appropriate treatment plan.