Let's Talk About Teeth Whitening

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15 Jul 2016 - General

So you want whiter teeth? Maybe you are jealous of the celebrity smiles on the pages of magazines and would want to sport the same attractive set of pearly whites. If you cannot make a decision because of certain things you’ve heard let me give you some answers.


What are the different teeth whitening methods? There are two main types: take home and in-office treatments. Take home techniques are in form of toothpastes, mouthwashes, gels, strips, pens and polish—some may be directly applied, and some will require the use of a tray. In-office treatments may be performed with or without the use of a whitening lamp. The main difference between the two methods is that in-office treatments make use of stronger solutions, thus requiring the careful handling of a trained professional.


Does teeth whitening make my teeth thinner? Some people think that teeth whitening procedures work by abrading the outer layers of teeth, possibly like skin peels. It is not like that at all. The whitening agent contains two main components: one that carries out the whitening action and another that activates the tooth. The activation is carried out by opening the pores of the teeth. The outer-layer of the teeth (enamel) is made up of rods and when they activate, they allow the whitening agent to penetrate into the tissues and bleach the teeth. This is how the whitening procedure is carried out and not at all by abrading teeth because if that is true, then you will expose the second layer of the teeth (dentin) which is more yellow-brown in tinge.


Is teeth whitening painful? Unfortunately, given the activation that happens to the rods of the enamel, the inner layer of the teeth become exposed and cause sensitivity. Degrees vary, depending on patient tolerance and strength of solution, but note that any sensitivity is temporary and may be resolved by desensitizing pastes, oils or medication. After a few days everything will be back to normal again, but your teeth will be whiter and more beautiful.


What is the whitening lamp for? Most teeth whitening agents work without the special lamp but what it is, is an accelerator that hastens and enhances the action of the solution. In other words,


Are teeth whitening results permanent? Just as you teeth can discolour from the different substances you take in (food, beverage, medication, etc) the results you shall obtain in the whitening procedure will fade. A patient will have to maintain the results with follow-up treatments after 6-8 months.


Are there other ways for me to whiten my teeth? Yes. If you wish not to go through the bleaching procedure, you can opt for composite laminates or veneers. Composite laminates are directly applied to the teeth and they make use of composite (the same material for fillings) and veneers are indirect cosmetic coverings that could either be made of ceramic or porcelain. These options may or may not require a degree of tooth reduction, but the whitening results are more exact and also more permanent in nature.


What is the most effective, painless, and fastest teeth whitening procedure? As this is Xiwei’s special question, I’ve kept it to the very end. Given everything that I’ve mentioned the most effective and fastest will be an in-office technique that uses a lamp, but the promise of a painless procedure will depend on the patient’s tolerance. In my experience, I’ve treated patients who felt no sensitivity at all, but I’ve worked with those who requested a halt in the treatment, as it has become unbearable for them. Avoiding colored and highly staining food and drinks will be the best way to keep your teeth as white as it is. Otherwise, you can just be more content with your smile.


P.S. If you have other questions, just leave a comment. 

Nope not at all. In fact when patients ask me if I think the new whitening toothpaste can whiten their teeth, my answer is no. I mean it's obvious too with the ads, the model says: "Whiten your teeth in one shade", kinda funny. One shade is almost nothing. There are some take home products that really work though, but you make a commitment to do it yourself for 2 weeks. So yes, in-office whitening is the most effective not only because of the light, but solution concentrations are ...
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Whitening toothpaste does not necessarily make your teeth whiter. It works by helping to remove stains. Thereby, making your teeth look whiter than they did before. However, using a whitening substance will make your teeth whiter but may not be able to remove stains. Laser whitening is considered as the best treatment, aside from the fact that it can generate instant results, it usually lasts for about 3 years or sometimes even longer. If you brush your teeth using whitening toothpaste, avoid co...
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@Ziwei I think different machines use different lights. Certain brands promote the use of their partner light machine, but you can buy whitening lamps that are for general use. Like most things, you basically have to decide which equipment works for you or which brand you want to trust. Anyway, enamel is translucent in some areas especially the biting surface, but it's generally white. Dentin is more yellowish in comparison to enamel and depending on the tooth age (due to development of 2nd ...
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