The color of our teeth is often enhanced by our skin tone.
Often, darker-hued people appear to have brighter teeth.
Usually, the natural color of teeth is grayish-yellow. Stains from foods, beverages, smoking can alter the natural color of our teeth and bleach teeth whitening is usually adopted to restore some of the natural colors.
Teeth whitening in simple terms refers to the process of removing stains and discoloration to make them whiter.
While teeth whitening may not make teeth a brilliant shade of white, it can lighten the existing color by a few shades. There are many teeth whitening products and home kits available.
Some beauty salons also offer bleach teeth whitening procedures. However, it is generally advised that teeth whitening is done by a qualified dentist.
There are 2 main categories of teeth whitening products available to consumers:
Surface Whiteners: Toothpastes and chewing gum come under this category.
They contain special abrasive ingredients which can remove surface stains and are not meant to replace professional cleaning.
They clean the teeth superficially and do not last long.
Bleaches: Even under this there are different techniques involved. Bleaches are usually made with peroxide.
They can lighten the existing color of teeth but some stains will not respond to them. Your dentist is the most competent person to decide which type of bleach is suitable for your teeth.
The dentist may use vital bleaching to clean stains caused by tobacco, food or age-related stains.
Non-vital bleaching procedures are done on teeth that have changed color due to a root canal or other procedures. This can lighten teeth inside out.
Bleach Teeth Whitening Procedure
If you decide to have bleach teeth whitening done at the dentists’, you will need to visit the clinic several times. In one procedure, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth and use this to make a mouth guard.
He will then give instructions on the right way to use a bleaching gel on the mouth guard. You will need to use the mouth guard at home and regularly apply the gel at specific times for 2-4 weeks.
The dentist will tell you about the time that the gel can be on. For example, some bleaching whitening gels can be left on for 8 hours.
The longer the gel remains on the mouth guard, the shorter will be the treatment period.
Laser whitening is another bleach teeth whitening system that some dentists may provide.
This procedure, also called power whitening is when bleach is applied on teeth and then a laser is used to activate the whitening process.
This procedure takes an hour and gives quick results. Sometimes heat may also be used to start the bleaching process. You may be given special toothpaste mixed with bleach to use.
Yet another and the most commonly used way is to use various home teeth whitening products which bleach for example toothpaste or rinsing agent. Many of these are approved by dental associations too.
Popular bleach teeth whitening ways
The following are some of the popular bleach teeth whitening products available. They can be used by those who have un-restored, healthy teeth and gums with no fillings.
Those with the yellow tinge to their teeth usually respond the best to such bleaching procedures. The extent of bleaching agent used and its power varies from product to product.
In High-concentration bleaching the chemical used is generally carbamide peroxide. Thus, first find out which procedure is right for you and use it under medical supervision.
Whitening toothpastes are called surface whiteners and contain abrasives to remove superficial stains.
Some may contain chemicals or polishing agents to be more effective.
They can whiten teeth by one shade. They are easy to use but not as effective as a bleaching product or a laser procedure that can lighten teeth by 3-8 shades.
OTC Strips and Gels
Both these have peroxide in them. Gels can be applied using a brush directly on the teeth, twice daily for 2 weeks. You can notice perceptible whitening after a few days.
Whitening strips are invisible to the naked eye and contain peroxide gel. They must be applied twice a day for 30 minutes, for 2 weeks and the results will be seen after a few days.
Final results for both can be got only after continuous use for 4 months.
These contain whitening ingredients that can improve gum disease, reduce plaque, freshen breath and whiten teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide is used in these whitening rinses and they can be used twice daily for 60 seconds before brushing teeth.
They are not as effective as toothpastes, strips or gels since they are in the mouth for only a few minutes a day.
Some manufacturers say teeth can whiten after using the rinse for 12 weeks.
These can be got from a dentist or purchased as an OTC product. It contains the mouth guard and whitening solution with peroxide bleach.
The gel is applied on the guard and placed on the teeth for 2 hours daily for 4 weeks or more.
This is the quickest way to bleach teeth. The procedure is done under a dentist’s care. A whitening product is applied to the teeth and then a special light, laser or heat is applied.
Several settings are required. However, the results are swift and longer lasting but more expensive. It is also safer since it is done under medical supervision.
Bleach Teeth Whitening : Issues and Limitations
Bleach teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure and must be done at periodic intervals.
The type of procedure also will determine the level of whitening which is achieved. It also depends on whether you use at-home bleaching products or go to a dentist. OTC products invariably contain lower strength bleaching agents (about 3%) when compared to professional whitening products that contain at least 15%-43% hydrogen peroxide.
Further, not all kinds of teeth can be bleached effectively. e.g. while yellow teeth respond to bleaching best and grey ones the least.
Thus bleaching will be much less effective in some cases. One should be aware of such limitations of bleaching before investing time and money.
Further, there are some people who may not be able to undergo bleach teeth whitening or for whom the results may not be adequate. These include:
- Children under the age of 16
- Pregnant women
- Those with sensitive teeth, receding gums, or defective restorations
- Those with allergies to hydrogen peroxide
- Those with cavities, worn-out enamel, exposed root or gum disease
- Those who have dental crowns, bonding, bridges, veneers, fillings or other restorative procedures on their teeth
- Those with extremely dark stains – e.g. stains caused by tetracycline.
Consider These Tips When Buying an OTC Teeth Whitening Kit
- OTC bleach teeth whitening products do not usually carry the seal of a recognized government body – e.g. American Dental Association. So, when buying these products, taking into account some tips can help you choose the right product.
- Ask friends or read online reviews of the product you wish to buy
- Get a product that allows adjustment to the mouth guard so that it is better suited for you.
- If you experience any irritation, tooth sensitivity or changes to the gum color, stop using the product and consult a dentist.
Precautions while using teeth bleaching products
While there are many home kits available for bleach teeth whitening, some of them are not really safe.
Also if you get it done at a beauty salon, there may not be competent professionals to undertake the procedure. Home kits may not contain adequate bleaching agent and this may not provide good results.
Sometimes the mouth guard provided will not fit our teeth properly since it will one that has not be made to fit you specifically.
In such a case, some of the bleach may seep into the gums and mouth causing adverse reactions like sensitivity or blistering.
In some countries, it is illegal for beauty professionals to perform bleach teeth whitening procedures.
Some in-office bleaching techniques have not had sufficient research performed to understand their safety and efficacy.
Always use home bleaching products which have been recommended by a dentist. They must be used appropriately for otherwise you can experience side effects.
It may be safer to use teeth whitening products that have the seal of an approved Dental Association.
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