Brightening your smile is as easy as going to the dentist. Simply explained, whitening is the lightening of teeth to remove stains and discoloration. One must realize that whitening is temporary, and it is not a one-time procedure.
The doctors and the oral healthcare professionals at Friedler Dental Group, located near you in Guildford, want to educate their patients, current and new, on the types and the methods of teeth whitening.
The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. The color of teeth is produced by the reflection of light off the enamel and the color of the dentin underneath the enamel. Dentin is the yellowish, bony tissue beneath the enamel.
The natural smoothness and thickness of enamel is hereditary. A thin enamel enables the dentin color to show through. The reflection of light off the enamel is affected by its texture.
The common reasons for teeth to become yellowed or stained are:
The enamel will naturally become thinner, and the dentin will naturally become darker, with age.
Teeth whitening is the most common of the cosmetic dental procedures and the most effective for removing stains and discoloration from the surface.
The presence of dental conditions, like decay or receding gums, will affect the results of the whitening. All decay must be removed and the cavity filled. With receding gums, the exposed root may be yellowish, and the whitening agents will not brighten the root.
Whether the whitening procedure is in-office or at-home, the first step is for the hygienist to clean the teeth to remove food particles, plaque and other build-up from the teeth.
There are two types of whitening procedures. Vital whitening is performed on teeth with live nerves. Non-vital whitening is performed on teeth without a live nerve, like teeth subject to a root canal.
This procedure can either be performed at the dentist’s office or at home. The common type of vital whitening is the use of a gel containing a type of hydrogen peroxide activated by the heat from a light.
In-office whitening can take from 30-90 minutes over 1-3 office visits. The method will depend upon the type of stains being removed and the “whiteness” of the end result.
For at-home whitening, the dentist will take impressions of the upper and the lower jaw to fabricate a custom mouthpiece. The mouthpiece will fit snugly to keep the gel on the teeth and to protect the gums from the gel.
The length of time and the frequency of wearing the mouthpiece will depend upon the type of stains being removed and the “whiteness” of the end result. There are patients who need to apply the gel and wear the mouthpiece for as long as one month.
The whitening gel used for in-office procedures is more potent and fast-acting than the gel used for in-home treatments.
There are also over-the-counter whitening methods that can be effective. These treatments take longer, the mouthguards are not custom and the whitening gel is the weakest.
Teeth without a live nerve will not respond to the whitening procedure because the discoloration is coming from inside the tooth, not the surface. Therefore, the dentist needs to whiten the tooth from the inside.
A whitening agent is placed inside of the tooth and a temporary filling is placed over the opening. The agent is left inside the tooth for several days, and then removed. Sometimes, a non-vital whitening procedure needs to be performed only once.
Whitening is not permanent. If you smoke or ingest a lot of staining foods and drinks, then you will begin to notice the whiteness fade within one month. If the sources of staining are lessened or avoided, then the effects of the whitening procedure can last from 6-12 months.
To maintain your newly-white teeth, at-home treatments can continue. If you have a custom mouthguard, then speak with your dentist about the frequency of the treatment and the type of gel to use.
Generally, there are no serious side effects from this procedure. Some people will experience sensitivity or gum irritation for a short while. Since the effects of the whitening agents on a developing fetus are not known, pregnant women should wait until after birth to whiten their teeth.
If you would like a consultation for advice on teeth whitening specific to you, then please contact the oral healthcare professionals at Friedler Dental Group, located in Guilford, where new patients are always welcome.
Friedler Dental Group is trusted and highly recommended for teeth whitening procedures, as well as other treatments in cosmetic dentistry.