What is Bleaching? (Teeth whitening)
Every person has a specific color of their teeth just as they have skin or eye color. The color of teeth differs according to race, age and geographical location. For example, people with African ethnicity have the whitest teeth whereas Caucasians have yellower tone of teeth. Teeth may change to a darker color due to different reasons as well; used medications, the abundance of flouride in drinking water etc. Bleaching or Whitening procedure is the removal procedure of discolorization. It may be applied to a single tooth or completely. In the bleaching method, the natural tooth color is whitened a shade or two.
The whitening procedure absolutely must definitely be supervised by a dentist. It is not recommended to use the cheap products purchased from super markets. For the procedure, your dentist will perform an examination on your teeth. If there is inflammation on your gums and tartar on your teeth, these need to be treated first. In order to qualify for tooth whitening, your dentist has to see no fractures or abrasion on your teeth enamel during the exam. These conditions may cause you to experience extreme sensitivity following the whitening procedure. Bleaching is different from the removal of stains on teeth at the end of gum treatment (polyture). Stains stuck on teeth from tea, cigarettes etc are removed with polyture procedure whereas in Bleaching, about a couple shades of whitening is gained following the polyture procedure.
Bleaching (Teeth Whitening) Methods
Two methods are used in today's dentistry. Named Home-Bleaching (applied at home) and Office-Bleaching (applied at the clinic), these methods can also be applied together (combined system) in cases of resilient stains. (tetracycline stains)
In this method, patients apply the treatment themselves. The treatment period lasts about 7 to 14 days. It has to be applied over the course of 6 to 8 hours everyday. Thanks to the change of concentration in the chemicals used in recent years, it has become possible to achieve results with even 2 to 3 hour applications. Patient’s oral impression is taken and a whitening tray is prepared accordingly. The patient fills the tray with whitening gel and wears them (preferably) before going to bed. The concentration of the whitening agent used in home-bleaching is kept lower to prevent harm to the teeth and gingiva.
In this method, the dental professional applies the treatment in the clinic. If there is gingival disease or tartar and plaque formation in the mouth, they must be treated previously so that the teeth can be prepared for the procedure. Gingival protectors are applied to your gingiva with a light device. The whitening agent is applied on each tooth and the light source is applied for 15 minutes. This procedure is repeated two or three times. The procedure takes about an hour. The gel is activated with high-power light, heat or laser. The treatments' effectiveness is directly proportional with light and heat. This method can be used on smoking patients, however, refraining from smoking and any other type of staining matter is highly recommended at least for the next 48 hours.
In this method, the patient receives Home-Bleaching, followed by Office-Bleaching to complete the treatment. This method is used to achieve results where the teeth color is dark and resilient.
Can You Get Teeth Whitening after Root Canal Treatment?
After root canal treatment, teeth can sometimes change color. The most prominent cause of this color change is due to the blood clotting in dentin tubules or canal filling material causing color change on teeth. Crown whitening (intracoronal bleaching) method involves whitening of the substances inside the dentin tubules and makes it possible for the tooth to go back to its natural color. Because of the fact that, the root of the tooth is protected before the bleaching treatment begins, this will cause no harm for the previous root canal therapy.
Is Bleaching Harmful for the Teeth?
The substances used in bleaching are different types of peroxide. Components such as sodium peroxide, hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the most frequently used types of peroxide and it is clinically proven that these chemicals are not harmful to the structure of your teeth.
The difference of Home-Bleaching methods from Office-Bleaching is the lower concentration of whitening agents in the whitening products. Home-Bleaching whitening agents include gels that has varying degrees of carbamide peroxide (10-22%), which are almost as effective as gels with 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration. However, teeth whitening products which are applied in the clinic by a dental professional have a concentration value between 25% to 35%.
In the home-bleaching method, whitening trays prepared exclusively for the patient are used. Patients fill the whitening tray with the gel and do the application themselves.
The dentist must talk to the patient about their history. It is absolutely necessary to determine the cause of discolorization or staining on the teeth. According to the examination, the decision whether the patient's teeth is appropriate for whitening should be made and, if applicable, a proper whitening method and agent has to be chosen accordingly.
The whitening procedure without harming tooth and the gingiva can only be done under dentist supervision. Therefore, the tooth whitening procedures must absolutely be done under dentist supervision.
Is There Any Pain During The Teeth Whitening Procedure?
No kind of anesthesia (needle) is applied during the tooth whitening procedure. In this procedure applied to the tooth enamel, due to the fact that the enamel tissue doesn’t have a nerve system, the patient feels no pain. The whitening agent is applied to the enamel during the procedure. In the office bleaching method, the patient’s mouth stays open for about 45 minutes. This may get some patients tired. In such cases, the patient may be allowed to take a little resting break half-way through the procedure. Following the procedure, sometimes the chilly feeling called temporary sensitivity may occur. This condition ends after 2-3 days at the latest. If this condition lingers on, the patient can receive flouride application to remove the sensitivity. It is important to keep in mind to refrain from consuming tooth-coloring food and beverages such as wine, tea, coffee, cigarettes, coke etc.
Who is Suitable for Teeth Whitening?
The whitening procedure is not recommended for ages under 16. In this period of age, Pulp chamber and the nerve of the teeth are at their widest dimensions. For pregnant women, people with whitening agent peroxide allergy and extremely sensitive teeth, it is not appropriate to undergo the procedure.
The procedure isn’t done on patients with tooth fractures, abrasion and sensitivities. Patients with excessive gingival recession and exposed roots are also not candidates for teeth whitening. On very advanced stages of tetracycline staining, the results also won’t be able to be satisfactory.
Smoking patients should be warned for cutting down or quitting their habit altogether in order to achieve better results with the treatment.
Whitening agents purchased from pharmacies may lead to unwanted results if the structure of the patient’s tooth and gingiva is not suitable. Patients must absolutely consult their dentists for dental bleaching procedures.
Does the Whitening Procedure Work on Every Kind of Discolorization?
The food and beverages we consume have the utmost importance as factors in discolorization of our teeth. Beverages with dyes, coke, cherry juice, red wine, carrot juice, pomegranate juice are influent in discolorization. In addition, tea and smoking, especially coffee with smoking has an increasing effect on the discoloration of teeth. Some of the medications patients use may also cause discoloration on teeth. Especially the medication and antibiotics used in childhood during the tooth eruption period has an important influence.
Yellow staining on teeth is more successfully handled in the whitening procedure than gray staining. Gray staining may be inborn or following root canal treatment. The discolorization after root canal treatment is explained in a section above. When there is gray discolorization on every tooth, the whitening procedure is more difficult. In the cases of yellow and similar tones of discolorization, the whitening procedure is easier.
How Long Does the Whitening Last After The Tooth Whitening Procedure?
Following the procedure, we recommend our patients a “white diet” for a while. We advise against consuming foods and beverages which can cause discolorization. After the duration of the white diet is over, we also advise against especially consuming darkly colored food which have excessive amounts of food dyes in them.
Following the tooth whitening procedure, especially fruit juices, tea, coffee and similar beverages discolor the teeth much more. It is important to keep in mind to consume them responsibly and brush your teeth afterwards. Regular brushing is required for maintaining your oral and dental health as well as making your teeth appear more white.
How long will the teeth stay white following a bleaching procedure is a common issue of concern. While the severity of the discoloration on patient's teeth, the technique and material used for bleaching, the shade of whitening that takes place after the procedure, dietary and brushing habits play a role in the duration of the whitening, there is an extreme white color on the teeth for a couple of days which becomes natural afterwards and patients can preserve this whiteness for 1-2 years.