One of the most common dental problems is stained, yellow or dirty-coloured teeth. Teeth whitening is a dental procedure used to get rid of stains and discolouration on teeth. Before you sign up for this procedure, it is important to understand what it is all about.
How does it work?
Whiteners are composed of peroxide. This compound whitens teeth using an oxidation process. Peroxide penetrates the inner layer of your enamel within a couple of minutes.
Your tooth consists of complex organic molecules that reflect light and affect the colour of your tooth. Peroxide releases free radicals that oxidise the organic compounds responsible for the colour of your tooth. When these compounds are oxidised, they reflect less light, which reduces discolouration and leads to whiter teeth.
What peroxide ingredients are used in whitening treatments?
The common compounds used in a whitening system are carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Over the counter or in-store whitening treatments use hydrogen peroxide. The treatments offered by dentist usually consist of both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Most people prefer carbamide peroxide because it penetrates teeth at a slow rate compared to hydrogen peroxide.
What side effects can be expected?
The common side effects are hypersensitivity and soft tissue irritation. Sensitivity occurs if the whitening agent has a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide. When a whitening agent stays in contact with the tissue for a long period, you will experience irritation. Both of these effects are temporary and normally end within a couple of hours to a few days.
What factors affect the whitening treatment?
- Colour- People with a more yellowish hue respond well to whitening more than those with a more brown or grey hue.
- Whitening potential- Your teeth can only whiten up to a certain level. These levels are different in every one.
- Clean teeth- For best results, teeth have to be thoroughly cleaned before the procedure in order to get rid of substances that could prevent the agent from directly contacting the teeth.
- Percentage of the whitening agent- a highly concentrated whitening agent produces faster results. However, it could also put you at a higher risk of suffering from sensitivity. Therefore, you should determine the percentage of the whitening agent based on the level of sensitivity for your teeth.
- Duration of time- The period of time the whitening agent is in contact with your tooth affects the results. Each treatment requires a specific timeline that has to be followed accordingly.
- Lifestyle- Avoid beverages which are dark in colour such as coffee, wine, soda and chocolate. You should also avoid chewing tobacco, smoking and products that contain alcohol.