Teeth Whitening: What You Need To Know. Part 2

Teeth Whitening in general isn’t a cheap procedure and can cost anywhere from £200 to $700 to over N50,000 depending on your location. However, before you pay that significant sum of money, here are a few things you need to note. 

We talked about the causes of tooth discoloration, the importance of Scaling and Polishing, and why people whiten their teeth here. Check it out to get the full scope! 

Types of Teeth Whitening 

We’ve established that tooth whitening works to make the enamel, which is the outermost surface of the tooth, whiter. 

Did you know that there are many ways to whiten your teeth? Not all of them require a visit to the dentist. Some of them are:

  • Whitening Toothpaste: These pastes usually have some sort of abrasive agents like baking soda or charcoal which help to scrub stains away. These are not great for sensitive teeth and can damage the enamel if used for too long. 
  • Whitening Mouthwashes: These are mouth rinses that have a low concentration of bleaching agents that act on the enamel. They, as well as whitening toothpaste, are best used as a supplement to professional or home whitening. 
  • Whitening Strips: These are flat strips that contain a little quantity of whitening agents. They can be applied to the teeth for a particular amount of time before they are removed. They are somewhat effective for whitening and can be used as a quick fix for teeth whitening. But it is best used with professional or home whitening kits. 
  • Home whitening kits: These are products that have a considerable concentration of the whitening agents used. This means that they are gentle enough to be used at home and can be used repeatedly. They can be a quick solution to some discolored teeth but they also help to prolong the effects of professional teeth bleaching. These products come as kits that have a bleaching light that is used to activate the agent. 
  • Professional whitening kits: These are whitening products that should be used in the dental clinic by a licensed dentist or dental professional. They contain the highest quantity of bleaching agents and are used with Ultraviolet (UV) light which activates the whitening agent. Professional teeth whitening gives the strongest whitening effect and can be supplemented with the other methods listed already. The effect given may last for as long as a whole year or as little as three months, depending on how well it’s maintained.

What To Consider Before The Process 

Here are some factors to consider before whitening the teeth:

  • Children under 16 years: It isn’t recommended for children in this category because their teeth are fully developed yet. If done, it could lead to sensitivity or irritation of the pulp. 

  • Pregnant women: Teeth whitening is contraindicated in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. 

  • People with sensitive teeth: Teeth with receding gums or exposed dentine or clear cases of sensitivity should be examined by a dentist before teeth whitening. 

  • Peroxide allergies: People with Hydrogen peroxide or Carbamide peroxide allergies should not whiten their teeth. 

  • People with gum disease: Periodontal or Gum disease should be treated before a whitening procedure. 

  • People with cavities, fractures, worn tooth surfaces, or exposed roots: Cavities or holes in the tooth are an area of weakness that may be further weakened by the whitening agent. Cracked tooth surfaces, exposed roots, and worn tooth surfaces will cause sensitivity if exposed to the whitening agent. 

  • People with restorations: Fillings, crowns, bridges, and other dental restorations are not affected by the bleaching agent and will not change in color. It is better to whiten your teeth before placing any restoration. This is best done by a dentist or dental professional. 

  • People with darkly stained teeth: It has been found that teeth whitening yields better results on yellowish-colored teeth. Teeth with dark discoloration may need up to six sessions of whitening before any result can be seen. For best results, other treatment options like crowns and veneers should be considered here. 

  • Smokers: People who smoke frequently may not be able to maintain the results of the whitening unless they stop smoking. This is because the smoke will discolor the teeth. 

Is Teeth Whitening Permanent? 

NO. The effects of teeth whitening are not permanent but can last for as little as three months and as much as one year. It’s best to maintain it by using other means of whitening like whitening toothpaste, home kits, etc. Also, a change of diet to reduce dark-colored foods that can stain the teeth is beneficial. 

Does Teeth Whitening Damage the Teeth? 

Yes. If it is not done by a dental professional that can supervise the process and recommend it appropriately, teeth whitening may damage the teeth. It is best to see your dentist for safe, effective teeth whitening. 

Is Teeth Whitening Painful?

teeth whitening shade selection

No. You might experience some sensitivity but, if well done, it isn’t a painful procedure.

What are the Side Effects of Teeth Whitening? 

The two major side effects are :

  • Irritation of the gums. This may occur when the whitening agent comes in contact with the gums. It is usually mild and disappears after a while. 
  • Sensitivity of the teeth. This is a common side effect of teeth whitening and may reduce with time. Your dentist can recommend products to help treat sensitivity. 

In Conclusion

A good way to summarize everything we’ve learned so far is;

  • See a dentist before you whiten your teeth.
  • Do a scaling and polishing before teeth whitening.
  • Don’t whiten your teeth if you have holes, sensitive teeth, or exposed teeth surfaces.
  • Some cases of tooth discoloration require a more advanced treatment than teeth whitening.
  • Stay close to Health Facts blog for more useful information like this.

Till my next post,

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Dr. Omotola Oke


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