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TEETH WHITENING

Teeth whitening is used to correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. The term "teeth whitening" can refer to a number of techniques to improve the brightness of the patient's teeth. Among them are chemical whitening, mild acid whitening, abrasive teeth brightening and the newest technique, laser teeth whitening.

 

What causes discoloration of the teeth?

Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea or cigarettes.  People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining.

Aside from staining, there are other factors that can affect the color of an individual's teeth. Genetics can play a role. Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease can also be a factor and certain medications can cause a discoloration of the teeth. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.

Teeth Bleaching

Teeth bleaching is chemical process used to lighten the color of the patient's teeth. The procedure can be performed entirely in the cosmetic dentist's office or it can be performed by the patient in their home, using a materials provided by the dentist. The home method is often used because it saves the patient from having to make an office visit for each treatment.

Before the patient embarks on the home teeth whitening regimen, the cosmetic dentist creates a custom mouth tray for the patient. The custom tray is a critical component of the treatment. It ensures that the correct amount of whitening solution is used and that the patient's teeth are properly exposed to the whitening solution. The custom made mouth tray provides for a better fit than a one-size-fits-all mouth tray to help increase the margin of patient safety.

The steps in the home teeth whitening regimen are fairly straightforward. The cosmetic dentist's office provides the patient with the materials and instructions and also answers questions the patient may have about the routine. Your dentist's office can also provide you with off-site supervision should you have any questions once you've begun.

A home whitening session can last for two to three hours, during which time you will have the tray and solution in your mouth.   Depending upon your needs and desired results, your dentist may instruct you to keep the tray in your mouth overnight.  Typically, you will follow your home teeth whitening regimen for two to three weeks, after which time you will return to your cosmetic dentist for a follow up visit.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure. Results can last for one to or more years, depending upon your personal habits. In most cases, the whitening procedure is very effective and the patient is pleased with the results.

Types of Teeth Whitening Procedures?

LASER BLEACHING (In-Office)

Using a laser with a whitening gel, this is an in-office bleaching system.

The translucent bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and a laser light is used to activate the crystals to absorb the energy from the light and penetrate the teeth enamel to increase the lightening effect on the teeth. The length of time in the cosmetic dentist's chair depends on the degree of discoloration you have.

Advantage: One visit is usually all it takes for a bright smile.

Disadvantage: The sudden change of color is likely to be noticed by those around you immediately. This is the more expensive of the procedures available, but also the quickest.

CUSTOM FIT TRAY BLEACHING (In-Home)

A custom fitted tray is worn over your teeth. A small amount of the bleaching gel is placed in the tray and worn for a brief amount of time each day. This is the most common technique because it's easy to use and costs less. Impressions are taken of your mouth and a thin custom made plastic tray is made which you take home and wear for about one to two hours per day. While some results may be seen in a couple days, it usually takes one to two weeks to see the full whitening of your teeth. This procedure is sometimes used in conjunction with the in-office laser bleaching if you have severe discoloration (dark grey or purple) or internal teeth staining.

Advantage: A gradual whitening of your teeth over time will be less noticeable to others that you're undergoing this procedure. The cost is relatively low.

Disadvantages: This procedure will require two to four visits to the cosmetic dentists office.

Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening

Advantages:

People typically have their teeth whitened to improve their appearance. Whiter teeth are associated with beauty and a healthier lifestyle. When people have a brighter smile, they tend to smile more often and are less self-conscious.

In addition, a whiter smile tends to minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles, giving way to a more youthful and energetic appearance.

Finally, a whiter smile gives people to whom you are speaking a place to focus on and gives you a friendlier appearance.

Disadvantages:

Although bleaching is very effective, there can be short term disadvantages, such as sore gums or teeth from the bleach. This disappears when bleach use is discontinued. Some individuals are more chemically sensitive. If you are one of them, inform your cosmetic dentist so that you can be tested for sensitivity to the solution.

Research indicates that bleaching is completely effective in more than 78% of people. In cases of serious teeth discoloration, bleaching may not be the best choice. Veneers or crowns may be the superior choice. Bleaching is usually the first solution to try due to its lower cost.

Some people experience discomfort from wearing the mouth tray. This typically goes away in short order, but if you suspect that there is a problem with the fit of your mouth tray, call your dentist's office. They can often make small adjustments that will minimize or eliminate the problem.