Our tooth is made of upper layer enamel and below it lays the dentin. The dentin is darker in color and the upper enamel is the white portion that we see. This enamel grows to be less porous and transparent with age, this causes the lower dentin to be seen, and hence we see a darker tooth.
The darkening of teeth can also occur due to foods, tobacco and can be an effect of bacterial pigments.
Teeth whitening is a process where products or chemicals are used on the enamel so that it does not lose its brilliance and by so doing, the darkening of teeth can be prevented.
Teeth whitening can be done by more than one method. Some of these methods include:
- In-office whitening: This is done by professional dentists.
- At-home whitening: Products used at home by the patient himself for teeth whitening purpose. These products are toothpaste, gels, rinse, and chewing gums.
Now in the process of teeth whitening, there is also a choice of internal whitening in which the teeth is whitened from the inside. Certain fluids and blood leak causes internal stains of the teeth and hence this can be cured by the process of internal whitening.
This is generally done by drilling of a hole on the pulp chamber and then filling the cavity with a substance made of rubber and again inserting a certain gel which is a step in the entire teeth whitening process.
Natural Methods for Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening can be done naturally. The process of teeth whitening naturally is quite cheaper than when done artificially. One of the natural methods is the application of malic acid, which is a natural fruit ingredient which imparts a sour taste to fruits. This can be done by application of crushed strawberry pulp on the teeth. It contains malic acid and hence whitens teeth.
In addition to the above method, the use of products like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are also taken into consideration and are quite effective. However, teeth whitening also has its side effects like the effect of chemicals on the gum and this could result in pain. Some of us have sensitive teeth and application of gels might cause chemical burns. Additionally, there is a risk of tongue cancer.
Before starting to whiten your teeth, it's best to consult with your dentist to make sure you are aware of the pros and cons of the selected whitening procedure.
Home Teeth Whitening Tips
Firstly, we must brush twice a day, as recommended by all oral doctors. Secondly, we must consume food products which are healthy and hygienic for our teeth, and lastly we must not overstress them by eating too much sweet or sour food products.
The 'at-home' methods involve the use of chemicals or medicines at home. This involves:
- The use of toothpastes at home. As we all know, all of us must brush our teeth regularly. In fact, it is best to brush our teeth after every meal. This ensures our teeth remains germ free and bright.
- Teeth whitening can also be done by flossing our teeth periodically which is cleaning of plaque, germs and build up from our gums and teeth.
- Whitening of teeth can also be done at home with the help of strawberries. We can apply crushed strawberry pulp on our gums and teeth for about 5 minutes to get better results. This works as it contains malic acid which is a good teeth whitener.
- Hydrogen peroxide is another teeth whitener which can be used at home by patients. This bleaches the enamel and helps in teeth whitening. However, it has its side effects as it is strong and can result in pain due to its effect on our gums. Hence, it can be used when in diluted form.
- Brushing our teeth with baking soda sometimes might help in whitening of teeth. It also kills bacteria.
- Use of lime and lemon on our teeth while brushing can help in whitening of teeth.
Teeth Whitening at the Dentist
Teeth whitening also known as dental bleaching are a widespread procedure in the field of cosmetic dentistry.
Gel bleaching is done with the following two methods: one elevated concentration gel and the other using low concentration.
Elevated concentration whitening is mainly done by the dentist. It is done by using an oxidizing agent of elevated concentration on the teeth with the help of thin trays made of plastic. This process can be finished in a short duration and generates fast results.
Coming back to the low concentration whitening, it is less effective and is mainly done at home.
Although a course in whitening can produce great results in a short span of time, the patient should be aware of the fact that some stains may not respond to whitening at all. A yellowish tooth responds best to whitening. However, infected gums and decayed teeth cannot be restored with tooth whitening methods.
Another technique which has gained popularity recently is the light accelerated whitening or commonly known as laser whitening. It is mostly done in the dentistry by specialized dentists.
The commonly used light energy includes halogen and LED. The energy must be high enough to excite the molecules of peroxide and at the same time should not overheat the tooth pulp. The wavelength of light should fall within the range of blue light.
This technology has got its share of criticism with many clinical researchers claiming that the techniques are not good enough to whiten the teeth. In addition, another reason why this is being criticized is because of its lack of permanency.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
The side effects of teeth whitening are increased chances of tongue cancer, increased sensitivity to hot and cold food items and pain if the patient has a delicate set of teeth.
There may also be chemical burns if by any chance a gel of elevated concentration attacks the vulnerable tissues.
The common side effects usually disappear after a few days.