Everyone loves a dazzling, bright smile. And in recent years, a great deal of focus has been placed not only on the ideal shape and uniformity of our teeth, but also their color.
No matter how healthy your teeth may seem, discolored or stained teeth can make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. There are various causes of tooth discoloration; it can be caused by medication such as antibiotics or an excessive intake of fluoride. But the most common contributing factor to stained teeth is usually attributed to the daily onslaught of coffee, soft drinks, nicotine, alcohol and food. Over time, the surface enamel begins to crack and erode, causing stains and discoloration.
The obvious solution to this problem is a teeth whitening treatment, and there are several brands available on the market, employing different techniques. It can be somewhat confusing when deciding which of these methods is best suited to your needs.
How does Teeth Whitening work?
The whitening process uses peroxide to bleach discoloration and stains. Enamel is the first layer of the tooth surface and is actually semi-translucent. The layer underneath the enamel is known as dentin. In order to whiten the dentin, a peroxide solution is placed on the enamel. The solution will then bleach the dentin, resulting in whiter teeth. When teeth are bleached, stained teeth will generally lighten four to five shades, depending upon how severely the teeth are stained or discolored.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Techniques
Cosmetic dentists offer several whitening procedures, which may be quite costly. For example, applying bleaching gel to the teeth in conjunction with laser treatment to accelerate the tooth whitening process. But most people opt for more economical and convenient “at-home” teeth whitening procedures.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Systems
There are several types of whitening products available for use at home, including teeth whitening pastes, bleaching solutions and “paint-on” whitening gels.
Bleaching solutions in a mouthguard: These products contain carbamide peroxides, which bleach the tooth enamel. The bleaching agent is placed in a mouthguard (tray), usually form-fitted by your dentist, and can be used at home, usually overnight over a period of 1-2 weeks.
Teeth whitening pastes: All toothpastes help remove surface stains to some degree by using abrasives. Unlike bleaches, these products do not alter the pigmentation of the teeth. A further drawback is that with excessive use, these abrasive whitening pastes may wear away the tooth enamel.
Whitening strips: With this technique a plastic strip coated with a bleaching agent is placed on the surface of the teeth. The bleaching agent is adhesive and holds the strip in place.
Paint-on whitening gel: As opposed to tray-based or whitening strip methodology, paint-on teeth whitening gel is painted directly onto the tooth surface with a special applicator. The instructions for paint-on products usually suggest that the surface of the teeth should be clean and dry. This improves the adherence of the bleaching gel to teeth for better results.
Take note that it may take several treatments to achieve the desired effect as results will vary, depending on the severity of the stains or discoloration. When choosing a teeth whitening product, consider which whitening system is most compatible with your lifestyle and budget. Selecting the system you find the easiest to apply could very well be the best personal choice.