How it works and how much it costs to whiten teeth.
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular forms of cosmetic dentistry because it is quick, doesn’t hurt, and doesn’t cost much. Men and women both want their teeth to be whiter, and there are whitening (or bleaching) treatments for every budget, time frame, and personality. There are lots of ways to get whiter teeth, such as one-hour whitening sessions at a dentist’s office or bleaching kits you can buy at the drugstore. Almost everyone who uses a teeth-whitening product sees a slight to a major improvement in how bright and white their smile is. Still, it’s not a permanent fix for stains and needs to be maintained or “touched up” for the effect to last. In this article, we explain everything about teeth whitening, including how teeth get stained, what causes stains, the different ways to treat stains, and the costs and risks of each.
What’s the difference between bleaching and whitening?
The FDA says that the word “bleaching” can only be used when teeth can be made whiter than their natural color. This only applies to products with bleach, which is usually either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
“Whitening,” on the other hand, means restoring the color of a tooth’s surface by getting rid of dirt and stains. So, in a technical sense, a whitener is any product that is used to clean the teeth, like toothpaste. Since “whitening” sounds better than “bleaching,” it is used more often, even when talking about products that have bleach in them.
Hydrogen peroxide is the best bleach for whitening teeth in a dental office, where time is limited. It works quickly and is very strong. When hydrogen peroxide is used to whiten teeth, the concentrations range from about 9 to 40 percent.
Carbamide peroxide, on the other hand, is the best bleach for whitening teeth at home because it works more slowly and breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is about three times as strong as carbamide peroxide. This means that a solution of 15 percent carbamide peroxide is roughly the same as a solution of 5 percent hydrogen peroxide.
An Evaluation of Tooth Enamel
Most of us are born with teeth that look like porcelain on the outside, which makes them white and shiny. Tooth enamel is made up of tiny rods of crystalline material. Its job is to protect the teeth from the effects of chewing, gnashing, trauma, and acid attacks from sugar. But as time goes on, enamel wears down and becomes more see-through. This lets the yellow color of the tooth’s core material, dentin, show through.
Normal chewing doesn’t damage the dentin, but it does cause millions of tiny cracks in the enamel. These cracks and the spaces between the crystalline enamel rods are where dirt and stains build up over time. Because of this, the teeth eventually look dull and lackluster.
When you whiten your teeth, the stains and debris are taken away, and the cracks in the enamel are left open and visible. Some of the cracks are quickly remineralized by saliva, while others are quickly filled with organic debris.
Extrinsic stains vs. intrinsic stains on teeth
There are two types of tooth stains: those that come from the outside and those that come from the inside.
Extrinsic stains are the ones that show up on the outside of the teeth. They are caused by dark drinks, foods, and tobacco, as well as normal wear and tear. Extrinsic stains on the surface aren’t too bad and can be removed with brushing and regular dental cleanings. Extrinsic stains that are hard to get rid of can be done so by doing things like whitening your teeth. If you don’t take care of persistent surface stains right away, they can get into the dentin and stay there.
Intrinsic stains happen on the inside of your teeth. Intrinsic stains can be caused by trauma, getting older, being exposed to minerals (like tetracycline) during tooth development, or taking too much fluoride. In the past, people thought that bleaching couldn’t get rid of intrinsic stains because they were too strong. Today, experts in cosmetic dentistry think that even intrinsic stains that have been there for a long time can be removed with supervised take-home teeth whitening that is kept up for months or even a year. If nothing else works, you can get dental veneers or something similar to cover up intrinsic stains.
Why do teeth get stained?
There is a direct link between the color of your teeth and your age. Teeth get darker as time goes on because of wear and tear and stains. Whitening is likely to have immediate and dramatic effects on teenagers. When you’re in your 20s and your teeth start to look yellow, it may take a little more work to whiten them. By the age of forties, the yellow has turned to brown and may need more care. By the time you reach your fifties, your teeth have taken on a lot of stains that are hard to get rid of, but not impossible.
The color at birth:
Our teeth are born with a color that ranges from yellow-brown to greenish-grey, and this color gets stronger over time. Most of the time, yellow-brown responds better to bleaching than green-grey.
Translucency and thinness
Translucency and thinness Even though all teeth have some level of transparency, those that are opaque and thick have an advantage: they look lighter, have more shine, and can be bleached. Teeth that are thinner and less opaque, like the front teeth, have less of the pigment that bleaching needs. According to cosmetic dentists, the only thing that teeth whitening can’t fix is teeth that are too clear.
Eating habits: Tooth enamel also wears away when you eat acidic foods like citrus fruits and vinegar. Because of this, the surface becomes more see-through, and more of the yellow dentin can be seen.
Nicotine leaves brownish deposits which slowly soak into the tooth structure and cause intrinsic discoloration.
Drugs/chemicals: Too much fluoride causes fluorosis, which is a discoloration of the teeth that looks like tiny white spots. It can also cause white spots in other places on the body.
Teeth grinding (gnashing, bruxing, etc.) is most often caused by stress. It can cause tiny cracks in the teeth and make the biting edges darker.
Falls and other injuries can cause cracks in the teeth that are big enough to collect a lot of stains and debris.
How Can You Whiten Your Teeth?
There are three main ways to whiten your teeth today. All three use different amounts of peroxide and different amounts of time to apply it.
Whitening at the Dental office
The main benefit of in-office whitening is that it makes a big difference in color in a short amount of time. This method involves a dentist carefully controlling the use of a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after the gums have been protected with a paint-on rubber dam. Most of the time, the peroxide stays on the teeth for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. This adds up to an hour (at most). People with stains that are especially hard to get rid of may be told to come back for one or more bleaching sessions, or they may be given a system to use at home.
Cost: $100 per visit (35,000 LKR)
Take-home kits that are given out by professionals
Many dentists think that take-home whitening kits that are professionally given out can give the best results in the long run. Take-home kits have a low-concentration peroxide gel that is easy to use and stays on the teeth for at least an hour (sometimes overnight). The less peroxide there is, the longer it can stay on your teeth without hurting them. Personalized bleaching trays that look like mouth guards are used to put the gel on the teeth.
Price: from $ 85 – $100 (20,000 – 35,000 LKR)
Products you can buy without a prescription
Over-the-counter bleaching is the cheapest and most convenient way to whiten your teeth. It involves using a store-bought whitening kit with a bleaching gel that has a lower concentration than the take-home whiteners you get from a dentist. The gel is put on the teeth with trays, strips, or paint-on applicators that fit everyone. Unlike custom trays, which can whiten the whole smile, this may only whiten a few of the front teeth.
Price: from $20 to $50.
How White Is White Enough?
Results are very personal and vary a lot from person to person. Many people are happy with the result right away, while others may be disappointed. Before you start any whitening treatment, you should talk to your dentist about what kind of results you can expect and how long it should take to get those results.
Shade guides are often used in a dentist’s office to compare the color of your teeth before and after a procedure. These are portable displays of many different colors of teeth. (Dentists also use them to pick the right shade for crowns and other dental work.) The Vitapan Classic Shade Guide has been the one that sets the standard for a long time. This shade guide standard has four color groups with 16 different shades, arranged from light to dark. It gives a universal way to talk about tooth colors. Whitening can sometimes lighten the color of teeth by nine or more shades, but most people will only see a change of two to seven shades.
Teeth-whitening treatments are considered to be safe as long as the instructions are followed. But you should be aware of the following risks that come with bleaching:
Sensitivity: This is most likely to happen when bleaching is done in a dentist’s office, where the bleach is stronger. Some people get sudden, sharp pains (called “zingers”) in the middle of their front teeth. People with receding gums, large cracks in their teeth, or leaky fillings are most likely to experience sensitivity after whitening their teeth. It has also been said that redheads are more likely to have sensitive teeth and zingers, even if they don’t have any other risk factors.
Whitening sensitivity usually only lasts a day or two, but it can last up to a month in some cases. Some dentists suggest that people with sensitive teeth use toothpaste with potassium nitrate.
Gum irritation: Usually, this kind of irritation lasts for a few days and goes away when bleaching stops or the amount of peroxide is lowered.
Restorations like bonding, dental crowns, and veneers don’t react to the bleach, so they stay their natural color while the teeth around them get whiter. People often say that this gives them “technicolor teeth.”
Keeping the Good Results
For teeth that have just been whitened to last longer, dentists usually suggest:
- Follow-up or maintenance whitening at home, which can be done right away or as little as once a year.
- After whitening, you should stay away from dark foods and drinks for at least a week.
- When you can drink dark-colored drinks through a straw.
- Take good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing after meals and before bed.
In addition to the risks already mentioned, there are a few other things to think about before getting your teeth whitened:
- No amount of bleaching will give you teeth that are “too white.”
- About two weeks after bleaching, you won’t be able to see the full effects of whitening. This is an important thing to think about if you’re getting ceramic restorations and want to make sure they match the color of your newly whitened teeth.
- If cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers, or other restorations are part of your treatment plan, they shouldn’t be put on for at least two weeks after bleaching. This is to make sure they stick well, work well, and match the color of your teeth.
- Tooth-colored restorations will likely need to be replaced after bleaching so that the Technicolor effect doesn’t happen.
- When gums recede, the yellow roots are often visible at the gum line. It has been hard to get that yellow color out.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing are told not to whiten their teeth. We don’t yet know what might happen to a fetus or baby if bleach is swallowed.