Teeth are an important part of appearance for many people. Whiter teeth are not only important for oral hygiene but are also important for confidence as it is said: “smile is one of the most interactive communication skills.” The public is also influenced by the portrayal of perfect white smile and has become aware of the colour quality of their teeth. There is no doubt that esthetics has become more important than ever.
But, tooth discolouration has become one of the most common complaints among patients visiting the dentist as it is esthetically displeasing with traumatising effects on the self-esteem of individuals. People who are esthetically motivated have sought methods to retain their white smile, and tooth whitening has thus become a frequently requested dental procedure by them.
In response, many choices of teeth whitening have been made available. Options range from simple home-based products to professional products like gels, bleaching toothpaste, and complicated procedures. Patients spend a large amount of money and time to improve the appearance of teeth. In fact, the global teeth-whitening market stands at US$3.15 billion (Source: Statista). But, can tooth whitening damage your teeth? Let’s find out!
How do Teeth Become Discoloured?
Why do our teeth colour changes to more yellow or becomes darker? Well, the colour of our permanent teeth is determined by the dentin and thickness of enamel. The internal portion can get darken over time due to deposition of a variety of pigments and the use of certain food or personal habit.
According to dentists, causes of discolouration can be categorised into two groups; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic staining can be attributed to factors like chemical ingestion, age, genetics, high level of fluoride, etc.
On the other hand, extrinsic discolouration is largely due to factors like antibiotics, smoking, food, metals like iron and copper, etc. Coloured compounds from these sources get absorbed into our teeth or get deposited onto the surface, leading to stains.
What are the Types of Teeth Whitening Procedures?
Tooth whitening can be achieved by physical removal of stains or by the use of chemicals to lighten the tooth colour. An array of teeth whitening procedures and approaches are gaining more visibility and interest among people who are demanding more healthy mouth. General teeth whitening approaches include whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, gels, whitening rinses, tray-based tooth whiteners, and in-office whitening.
More severe stains or discoloured tooth are best lighted professionally, while milder cases can be treated with over-the-counter products. All these processes include components that react with the colour causing the compound to make our teeth appear white.
Is Teeth Whitening a Good Option?
Tooth whitening is mostly successful in 90% of the patients. As a rule of thumb, yellow-coloured teeth respond well to whitening procedures. Similarly, stains from smoking or food get removed with time using these processes. The treatment time depends on the concentration of the bleaching compound. However, studies reflect that aggressive tooth bleaching or whitening when done incorrectly can cause tooth sensitivities, mild gingival irritation, tooth microstructure, and may also cause restoration changes.
Some compounds used in bleaching toothpaste include components like sodium chlorite, which can significantly reduce the hardness of the teeth raising the likelihood of abrasion. Whereas, some products contain components like hydrogen peroxide in huge quantities which can harm the teeth by permeating deep into the enamel.
Notwithstanding the above fact, it is also true that if used properly and safely, regular teeth whitening caused no to little harm to our teeth. So, before you decide to whiten your teeth, here is what you should consider:
1. Inspect Your Teeth Carefully
Sometimes, the development of sensitivity or discolouration is temporary, which can be corrected by changing our dental regime. In addition, if you are using any product and have developed sensitivity, that’s not a sign of long-term damage. Just stop using the product, and the condition will reverse with time.
2. What Does Your Dentist Advice?
Not all stains can be lightened using OCTs or general teeth-whitening products. Some conditions require professional treatment or dentist supervision to eliminate the risk of teeth whitening. In addition, your dentist will also be able to give guidance on procedures that are suitable to your dental condition.
3. Follow the Instructions
The products for tooth whitening are designed to use in a specific manner. Some products are designed to be used only once in a day, while others can be used twice a day. It is important that you read the instructions written on the product carefully.
4. Use Clinically Approved Products
There are plenty of whitening toothpaste, gels, and strips available in the market. It is wise to use clinically approved products that have the right proportion of components under the permissible level. Your dentist can also recommend products that are best for your dental condition.
5. Don’t Trust Everything Blindly
These days, one can find endless information on the internet regarding any topic, including teeth whitening. Don’t trust anything and everything available there. In addition, don’t self diagnose your condition and start using procedures. You should give a visit to a dentist’s office.
Today, aesthetics have become central and are gaining more interest in the society. Patient demanding whiter and more stain-free teeth for a pearly white smile can go for regular teeth whitening. Teeth whitening processes are generally risk-free provided they are done correctly. All you need to remember is don’t follow any teeth whitening regime considering its lower cost or ease of doing blindly. It is always wise to consult a dentist for advice on the procedures since teeth whitening cost comes second. When you follow all these, you will see a significant change in dental discolouration without any side-effects.
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