Oral and Dental Diseases
Teeth Whitening

Summary:

  • The natural color of teeth is not too white, but the procedure of teeth whitening targets lightening their shade of white. 
  • The results of teeth whitening vary from a person to another based on the health and color of their teeth. 
  • In some cases, teeth whitening is advised against. It’s important to ask your dentist first. 
  • There are several ways of teeth whitening. Some of them are done at clinics and others at home.  
  • There are instructions you must follow to keep your teeth white and clean. 

Overview:
Brushing your teeth on a daily basis helps maintain their brightness, whiteness, and health. In some cases, though, people may feel that the shine of their teeth is gone, or that their teeth have become more yellow. This is why several ways were created for teeth to be whitened.

The natural color of teeth is not too white, so the whitening procedure is expected to only lighten their color only slightly. It targets the outer layer known as the enamel of the teeth, which varies in color from one person to another. Bleaching products contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These substances break the stains into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and the teeth brighter. Moreover, whitening does not require removing a layer of the tooth surface, which does not make the color brilliant white, but rather slightly lighter than the previous color. 

The difference between dental cleaning at a clinic and teeth whitening:
Dental cleaning at a clinic:
Teeth Whitening
​The main objective of dental cleaning at a clinic is to improve dental health. The procedure involves removing microbes found in the mouth and on the surface of the teeth through scaling and polishing. They are two methods that help prevent and greatly control gum diseases.
Scaling:  Removing plaque and tartar from teeth surface. 
Polishing:  Removing remaining plaque layer, which makes the teeth brighter and shinier. It also makes it more difficult for plaque to stick to the surface of the teeth.
When the the dental cleaning procedure at a clinic is done, your teeth may become whiter as the accumulated discoloration gets removed, but if the actual color of your teeth is very yellow, getting your teeth cleaned at a clinic won't change that. 

​The main goal of teeth whitening is restoring teeth natural shine and whiteness which have diminished over time with exposure to factors that cause discoloration.
Teeth whitening substances are used to remove stains and any pigmentation found in the tiny pores of the teeth.​


Teeth bleaching:  
Anyone can get their teeth bleached; however, it is essential for the teeth and gums to be in a good condition. It is also important to get medical advice from your dentist before you start the whitening procedure as it may not be suitable for everyone, and may have zero effects in the following cases:
  • Fillings or crowns on front teeth;
  • Veneers;
  • Severe discoloration due to certain medications;
  • Tooth discoloration due to injury.

Teeth whitening is also not recommended in the following cases:   
  • Being under the age of 16 
  • Having sensitive teeth
  • Having an allergic reaction to a bleaching substance
  • Being pregnant or breastfeeding   
  • Having gingivitis or gum disease
  • Having an exposed tooth root

Types of teeth bleaching:  
  1. Laser bleaching at a dental clinic: It is the fastest way to whiten teeth. It requires only one session and no anesthesia. To protect the mouth and gums and avoid the effect of bleaching materials, a semi-gel is applied to the gums, then the teeth are coated with a chemical solution made of hydrogen peroxide. Afterwards, laser is used to activate it. This type of bleaching may increase teeth sensitivity.
  2. Zoom:  It requires 3-4 sessions for desired results to be achieved. Each session usually lasts 45-60 minutes. Zoom teeth whitening works in a similar manner to laser, but the type of light used is different. Some home teeth bleaching products may be required after sessions to ensure results last. It is also less likely to cause teeth sensitivity. 
  3. Home teeth-bleaching trays:
    • Custom trays:  To make a custom-fitted tray, your dentist will take a dental impression. A suitable tray is then made so that it does not touch your gums. After the tray is ready, a gel (chosen by the dentist) is placed inside. You will be advised to wear it for 6 hours during sleep. How long you need to wear the tray depends on your own personal needs and your dentist’s advice. 
    • Standard trays:  They can be purchased at pharmacies and often come with a liquid that accelerates whitening and can be applied on the teeth immediately before the tray is worn. This tray comes in one size, which may cause the gel to leak. It is worn for 5-30 minutes, depending on the effectiveness of the gel. For best results, it should be used for 10-14 consecutive days.
  4. Whitening strips: They are available without a prescription. A strip is attached directly to the teeth, and then disposed of after the specified period of time (30 minutes). It is a cleaner and easier way than trays. You can also buy strips that dissolve naturally after 10-15 minutes. They give you quick and good results in at least seven days. However, this type of strips may not affect all parts of the tooth.
  5. Whitening pen: It is a small tube containing a gel that is applied directly to the teeth with a soft brush. It is easy to use. It should take 1-2 weeks for you to see results if you use it 2-4 times a day for 10-30 minutes each time, often depending on its type.
  6. Whitening toothpaste: The paste removes only surface stains rather than change the color of the teeth. So if your teeth are naturally yellow, using the paste will not change that, and may even scratch your teeth enamel and increase sensitivity when used for a long time. Nevertheless, whitening toothpastes can help prolong the results of other whitening treatments.  

Factors affecting teeth whiteness: 
  • Some foods with strong pigments that cause staining, such as: Raspberry and cherry.
  • Some beverages, such as: Tea and coffee. 
  • Accumulation of plaque, tartar, and other deposits. 
  • An injury to the mouth. The body's reaction to an injury may be to increase the formation of the dark-colored dentin layer, which is located under the enamel.
  • Smoking.
  • Weakening of the enamel layer due to old age.
  • Some medications (e.g. antibiotics)
  • Excessive use of fluoride in early age. 

The results of the teeth whitening procedure vary from a person to another based on the health and color of their teeth. If the discoloration is the result of a dead nerve in a tooth, the nerve canal can be filled with a white substance which may improve the tooth color from the outside.

Side effects of teeth whitening: 
  • Gingivitis;
  • Teeth sensitivity;
  • White spots on gums.
These symptoms are usually temporary and will go away in a few days. However, if they don't seem to go away, it is important to tell your dentist. 

Tips to address teeth sensitivity after whitening: 
Following the procedure of whitening your teeth, you may find them more sensitive than usual. Follow these tips to reduce the discomfort:  
  • Avoid foods that cause pain to sensitive teeth (e.g. Cold drink, sweets, etc) and rinse your mouth with warm water. 
  • Use a high-fluoride toothpaste, and apply it to your teeth for a few minutes.
  • Brush your teeth with a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. 
  • Stop the whitening procedure temporarily. 
  • Reduce the duration of applying the bleaching material to your teeth.

General guidelines:
  • Avoid eating foods and drinks that change the color of your teeth.
  • Use straws to drink beverages that cause teeth discoloration. 
  • Eat foods that protect your teeth from discoloration (e.g. Cheese, apples, etc) as these neutralizes the acidity of your teeth, which prevents enamel damage.
  • Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth immediately after having foods and drinks that affect teeth color. 
  • Maintain your dental health and hygiene.  
  • Stop using bleaching materials when you're satisfied with the results. 

FAQs:
  • Are teeth whitening results permanent? 
    • No, they last only 1-3 years. 
  • Can too much teeth whitening damage my teeth?  What is the potential damage?  
    • Your teeth may become sensitive from whitening. You can also get pulpitis (inflammation of the dental pulp) or dissolving roots. 
  • When should I get my teeth whitened again? 
    • If you notice a change in the color of your teeth, you can get them whitened again. It is often best to leave a 3-month duration between treatments. 
  • Will continuous use of whitening toothpastes damage my teeth?
    • Yes.
  • What is the best type of teeth whitening? 
    • At-home whitening. 
  • What problems should I expect after using a teeth whitening tray? 
    • Teeth sensitivity. 
Myths & Truths:
  • Rinsing your mouth with olive oil can bleach your teeth. 
    • Truth: There is no study to support this. ​
  • Drinking hot beverages causes more damage to the teeth than cold beverages. 
    • Truth: Not true. 
  • There are natural ways to bleach teeth using foods like  strawberries and banana peels.  
    • Truth: This is not true. No foods do that. 
  • Rubbing teeth with charcoal is a safe way to whiten teeth. 
    • Truth: No, because rubbing teeth leads to the erosion of the enamel layer.


Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 14 June 2021 07:58 AM
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