- by Dr. Karanjit Dhillon
- September 19, 2022
Teeth whitening is one of the most famous cosmetic dentistry treatments offering a speedy, non-invasive and inexpensive way to enhance a smile
Several reasons can cause staining and discoloration of teeth which can affect not only your smile but also hamper your self-confidence.
However, with advances in dental science, there are now many safe and highly effective options for teeth whitening available.
- Professional whitening treatments at the dentist
- Use of whitening products at home
Most traditional whitening treatments, though deemed safe can have some side effects too and a few current researches are suggestive of the negative effects of popular teeth whitening treatments. However, being aware of them can help you to make an informed decision.
Morgan Hill Dentistry is a highly reputed and popular dental office and our team makes sure that our patients are always prescribed treatments that are safe for them.
What are the Causes of Teeth Discoloration?
Discoloration of teeth can be caused due to many reasons and in fact, it is a sign of healthy teeth, opposite to what people usually believe. The tooth color can experience changes because of many reasons like:
- Bad health
- Wearing down the enamel
- Staining from the foods and drinks.
Types of Tooth Discoloration
Tooth discoloration is of two types mainly:
1. Extrinsic discoloration
The stains or discoloration of teeth caused by foods, beverages, or smoking is called Extrinsic discoloration.
The main contributors to this type of discoloration are tea, coffee, red wine, foods containing dyes, and tobacco. These stains can be treated with whitening toothpaste as they affect only the exterior of teeth.
2. Intrinsic Discoloration
Intrinsic discoloration is from within the tooth and is caused by medication use, childhood ailment, infection, tooth trauma, or aging. Professional bleach may be needed in this case to obtain a similar grade of teeth whiteness.
The procedure for teeth whitening should be selected depending on the kinds of staining and discoloration affecting the patient.
Also Read: Urgent vs. Non-Urgent Dental Emergencies
What are the Various Teeth Whitening Options?
Many types of techniques and products are nowadays available for teeth whitening. Our dentists at Morgan Hill Dentistry can suggest you the best methods suited to your needs after a thorough checkup of the reasons behind the staining and discoloration.
Professional Teeth Whitening
The safest, most effective, and preferred option for whiter teeth that delivers significant & long-lasting results is professional teeth whitening treatment when performed by a qualified dentist at a well-equipped dental office.
Dentists use different methods to whiten teeth in their offices or even at home.
Bleaching the teeth with carbamide peroxide to break them down to hydrogen peroxide and urea, targeting the tooth’s color in a chemical reaction is the most popular and safest among all the methods.
A form of dentistry, teeth whitening should always be performed by a qualified dental professional. The dental specialists use prescription-only materials which are regulated and safe whereas any whitening carried out by an unqualified person without sufficient dental skills can end up putting your health at risk.
Sometimes a few illegal materials may also be used by non-dental professionals which may lead to several complications like increased sensitivity, inflammation of the lips and tongue, and even cause burns to the mouth and gums. This can end up causing you a lot of pain and moreover even damage to the tooth surface.
At-Home Treatment with a Prescription from Your Dentist
Your dentists can also help you to whiten your teeth at home. This can be done with the help of custom-fit trays that dentists make to fit into your mouth.
The tray is worn for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day, after adding gel to it. The tray is recommended to be worn for a few weeks to achieve white teeth.
A professional whitening kit to take home may also be prescribed by a qualified dental specialist and can prove to be as effective as professional whitening.
However, more time may be needed to achieve results as compared to the instant result from professional whitening treatment.
Teeth Whitening Products and Other at-Home Options.
There are Some over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products that are available to help with stained or discolored teeth. These products contain almost negligible or no carbamide peroxide at all, just like professional whitening products.
However, they may not work as effectively and also take longer to whiten intrinsically discolored teeth. Our experts advise that to ensure safety, you must always choose products that have the seal of acceptance of the American Dental Association.
Otherwise, there can be serious risks involved in buying products that are unregulated and you can not be sure of their components or concentration.
The safety instructions on the products must be duly followed though even that might not reduce the risk involved.
Non-professional whitening can lead to damage or sensitivity due to the whitening substances coming in contact with the gums.
The regular toothpaste used to brush teeth twice daily is sometimes swapped for the one that promises to whiten the teeth.
Brushing with regular toothpaste does remove some surface stains while they clean teeth and oral health whereas whitening toothpaste can help to remove more surface stains.
Though most whitening toothpaste cannot cause you any issues, one needs to be careful as these toothpastes normally include abrasive ingredients, like silica, to scrub the surface of the teeth.
Some whitening toothpaste like charcoal toothpaste which has gained immense popularity recently can do more harm than good, leading to the erosion of enamel in the process, exposing yellow dentine tissue, increasing sensitivity, and making teeth more vulnerable to decay.
Tooth Whitening Strips and Gels
These peroxide-based tooth bleaching strips are applied directly to the teeth with a brush or a thin strip. These need to be applied once or twice a day for about 10 to 14 days. Results can last for four months or more.
Are there any Side Effects of Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening treatments are usually very safe when performed by a qualified dental professional. However, like any treatment, it may cause some side effects like:
- Tooth Sensitivity: Some extra sensitivity may be experienced for a few days after the teeth whitening treatment, but it dwindles in a few days.
- Gum Irritation: Some patients may experience irritation of the gums which is also known as gingival irritation as the gums come in contact with the whitening product. But it goes away after the treatment is over.
We are often asked if teeth whitening is a permanent treatment. The answer is ‘No’. Teeth whitening has temporary results and regular treatment for both extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration is important to maintain your sparkling white smile!
At the same time, it is extremely important to keep in mind that one must always opt for the dentist-approved methods for whitening the teeth to ensure the safety of your oral health.
If you suffer from tooth discoloration and have often wondered if teeth whitening methods are safe for you, then our team at Morgan Hill Dentistry is here to help you and resolve all your doubts!
A discussion with your dentist will help you decide the method that suits your needs. Book an appointment with us.