Most of us are born with teeth that are fairly white. The porcelain-like enamel is responsible for this colour. However, over the course of time, the enamel breaks down due to sugar release by sugary foods, foods with extreme temperatures, tobacco, aging, trauma or injury to teeth, certain medications, etc. This breakdown results in the yellow or brown staining of teeth.

When the teeth cannot turn back to their clean white state by general dental hygiene practices, teeth whitening is suggested. Teeth whitening is one of the most demanded and popular cosmetic dental procedures. It is a quick, effective and affordable way of enhancing your smile.

Teeth whitening removes stains

Teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide with carbamide peroxide. These products work by breaking the stains on teeth into smaller pieces, making the tint less concentrated and the teeth brighter. It is important to consult with your dentist for the correct treatment because different whitening procedures are available and they may not be suitable for everyone. Stain removal toothpaste, over-the-top bleaching products, at-home bleaching by the dentist, chairside bleaching, etc. are some teeth whitening procedures.

It is a common concern of the patients that the teeth may get damaged during the procedure. However, rest assured, this is not the case. The whitening solution travels through the hard enamel layer to the soft dentin layer, whitening the tooth along the way, causing no damage. The patient may experience some side effects like irritation in gums and sensitivity to hot and cold edibles. Although these symptoms too subside after a few days.

There are procedures like laser procedure, side bleaching which are conducted in the dentists’ clinic. The dentist carries out these procedures with utmost precaution and care.

Here’s how teeth are whitened without causing any damage to the teeth.

1. Thorough examination

Before carrying out the whitening procedure it is essential to properly examine the condition of the mouth and teeth to prevent mishaps. If conditions like tooth decay, cavities, etc. are present they will be treated before continuing the procedure. Doing so reduces the risk of extreme pain and discomfort. The patient should also inform the dentist if they are prone to teeth sensitivity.

 Teeth whitening treatments often result in hypersensitivity for a few days, informing the dentist will help them in taking extra precautions.

2. Understanding the procedure

Dental whitening procedures begin with a thorough examination of the teeth and mouth condition as well as the current shade of the teeth. The teeth will then be polished to remove plaque and debris. It will then be coated with whitening solution containing hydrogen peroxide. The solution will either be left for a few minutes or will be activated by laser or light. Once the desired shade is acquired, the teeth will be thoroughly rinsed.

3. Precautionary tools

The teeth whitening procedure can potentially make teeth sensitive and sore. To prevent this, various protective equipment are used. For example, a gauze is used to isolate the operative area in the mouth. This will help keep the teeth dry. A retractor is also used to isolate cheek, tongue, lips, etc. sensitive spots of the mouth away from the whitening solution. To protect the gumline from the same solution, a barrier is used.

4. Fluoride application

After the treatment is successfully carried out, it is common for patients to experience sensitivity in teeth. To provide relief to patients, a fluoride solution is applied. Fluoride treatment also infuses the teeth with much required minerals and helps the teeth heal faster.

5. Aftercare instructions

It is essential that the patient follows the given instructions for care and maintenance of the newly whitened teeth. If the patient fails to do so, the teeth may not be able to heal fast and the outcome of the whitening treatment may not be as effective.

If over the counter teeth whitening methods are used, the patient should strictly avoid wearing whitening trays longer than recommended. They should also make sure to avoid taking pain killers which are not prescribed. Limiting consumption of extremely hot or cold beverages also helps in healing the teeth faster. More precautions and instructions are given at the dentist’ clinic, make sure to follow them for fast recovery.

6. Eligible patients

It is essential to remember that not everyone can receive this treatment. That is so because some teeth are too damage by previous tooth ailments and haven’t fully recovered or can’t recover. Teeth with stains from inorganic substances, teeth with history of trauma and injury, fluorosis patients, etc. patients should avoid receiving a whitening procedure. Continuing the procedure on such teeth will result in damage to the teeth.

However, these patients need not be discouraged as there are still many other teeth whitening options other than in-office procedures. For example, whitening strips can always be used by almost everyone.

7. Benefits

As expected from the name, obviously the patient will observe dazzling white teeth after receiving the procedure. There are, however, some more advantages of receiving this procedure.

The major advantage is that this procedure is extremely safe and harmless since it is carried out by a certified professional. It also produces results very fast. Other procedures take 5-6 procedures for completion, whereas, the in-office whitening procedure is completed in 1 or 2 visits. It also effectively heals and helps in teeth sensitivity experienced prior to and after the treatment by providing whitening trays with fluoride solution.

8. Drawbacks

Just like any other procedure, teeth whitening procedure also has its own drawbacks and disadvantages. Also, factors like age, teeth conditions, etc. have a huge impact on the procedure. The results can’t always be as per expectation due to these factors. This procedure also requires follow-up treatments to maintain results. Otherwise, the teeth will again start to accumulate stains and tint.

Teeth sensitivity is also reported among patients, but it is not a cause of concern since desensitizing medications are provided and the sensitivity only lasts for a few days. You can always reach out to your dentist in case of prolonged discomfort.