Teeth whitening is the most common and desired cosmetic dental procedure. It is performed to enhance the appearance and shade of the natural teeth. It can help improve the appearance of the patient and can provide a boost in confidence and self-esteem. There are two basic kinds of whitening treatments available, in-office whitening treatments and at-home whitening treatments.
The in-office procedure involves a thorough examination of teeth for any pre-existing conditions and diseases. If there are no problems with the teeth, the procedure can continue further. A whitening solution or gel containing hydrogen peroxide is applied in an even layer on the surface of the teeth. Then, a heating lamp or a laser lamp is applied to the solution to activate the bleaching agents present inside. The teeth are carefully observed for changes in shade. When the desired shade is achieved, the laser light is removed. The solution is then washed off and the patient is recommended several at-home whitening kits and procedures that can help maintain efficient results. Some patients are also advised to visit the clinic again in a few days for proper follow-up appointments.
At-home whitening treatments are also a good option if the patient can’t afford or doesn’t want an in-office whitening procedure. Whitening trays, whitening strips, whitening solutions, and whitening toothpaste are some of the most common whitening products recommended by dentists. Dental trays are custom made-plastic coverings that fit as a shell on teeth. These trays usually contain bleaching agents that are either pre-loaded into them by the dentist or bleaching agents are added to them before use. These trays ensure that the bleaching agent doesn’t leak out and is not diluted or weakened by the saliva.
are the most convenient and perhaps the fastest way of teeth whitening. They are made of thin plastic material and contain a low concentration of bleaching agents to whiten the teeth. Very convenient; however, excessive use can damage the teeth. They can help whiten the teeth within a span of a few minutes.
are also common. They contain both fluorides as well as peroxides. Dentists recommend using them daily to ensure good results. Toothpastes with a high concentration of bleaching agents should be avoided, as they can make the teeth porous and can promote tooth sensitivity.
It is to be noted that not every dental patient is a candidate for in-office teeth whitening procedures.
If the patient has any of the following conditions or procedures done on the teeth, a teeth whitening procedure is not recommended:
1. Dental veneers
Dental veneers are custom-made shells used in the treatment of discoloured, misaligned, and, crooked teeth. These veneers are generally porcelain-derived and are available in various types to suit the patient. Porcelain veneers to resist stains. Composite resin veneers to cover up aesthetic problems of the teeth.
The procedure for porcelain dental veneers involves the preparation of veneers with the help of a mould. This preparation takes one to two weeks. Within this period, temporary veneers are provided. Just after the porcelain veneers are ready, they are applied onto the teeth surface with the help of dental cement and are allowed to dry. They are reshaped to attain a natural look. Whereas, the composite resin procedure involves direct application of resin material to the teeth surface and allowing the resin to harden. The teeth surface is roughened prior to this application to promote adhesion.
Patients with porcelain, resin, or any other kind of dental veneers should not opt for dental whitening treatments as these generally do not respond to whitening treatments, i.e., they show no result. Teeth whitening treatments can do more harm than good if the patient has veneers. It is best to discuss with the dentist the best solution for whitening teeth with veneers and trying any DIY whitening methods should also be considered with the dentist first.
2. Tooth sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is defined as the inability of the teeth to remain stable and constant inflammation and pain in the tooth. In such a condition, the teeth are too fragile and are easily irritated with the simplest of things. Such teeth cannot tolerate foods that are either too hot or too cold, beverages that have high acidic content, and foods that are too spicy can also not be tolerated by such teeth.
Sensitive teeth can easily be damaged, the patient should avoid any harsh dental treatments without treating sensitive teeth. Such teeth will also be damaged by a whitening procedure since it involves laser application and the use of strong bleaching agents. The procedure may make the teeth more brittle and even more fragile than before.
3. Gum diseases
Gum diseases or periodontitis are a set of diseases or gum disorders that eventually lead to tooth loss. Poor oral hygiene and genetics at the two major reasons why gum disease may occur. Red, swollen gums or bleeding teeth, as well as gums, are some symptoms of gum disease that should not be ignored.
Gum diseases cause the patient to suffer a lot due to irritation in nerves and gum tissues. The bleaching agents present in a whitening solution can worsen this suffering as it will also cause pain in gum tissue and irritation. The pain is too much to bear, that is why gum disease patients are advised to avoid this procedure.
4. Intrinsic discoloration
The condition in which discoloration of teeth takes place on the inner surface that is not visible to the eye, but causes all the teeth to appear discoloured, is called intrinsic discoloration. Such a discoloration occurs due to mainly three reasons, excessive use of fluoride, use of medications with extreme side effects, and an oral injury that has affected the teeth severely. Intrinsic teeth do not respond to teeth whitening procedures at all. They show no reduction in discoloration after undergoing a dental whitening procedure. For whitening such severely stained teeth, dental bonding is recommended as an alternative.