Typically, the color of a person’s teeth falls within a range of pale grayish-yellowish shades. The teeth of a child are whiter compared to the adult teeth that come up later. Discoloration of the teeth happens because of aging, which causes variations in their mineral structure. The porosity of the teeth enamel becomes less and develops phosphate deficiency. Bacterial pigments, certain foods and vegetables can also stain your teeth. Certain antibacterial medication such as tetracycline may also stain your teeth or reduce the enamel’s brilliance. Beverages such as tea, coffee and red wine as well as use of tobacco or tobacco products are also known to cause discoloration of teeth.
There are two categories of products that are used for teeth whitening purposes: surface whiteners and bleaches.
As the name suggests, these products are used for removing the surface stains of teeth. Typically, the products falling in this category include toothpastes and chewing gums. They contain finer versions of special abrasives that are often used in regular toothpastes. Therefore, they are not likely to cause excessive wear. The effectiveness of surface whiteners is limited to superficial stains and is not an alternative for professional cleaning.
Most of the products belonging to this category are peroxide-based. Typically, carbamide peroxide is used as the bleaching agent. It reacts with water and forms hydrogen peroxide, which is capable of changing the color of the teeth. If you want to whiten your teeth, you must first consult with your dentist in order to determine the reason for discoloration of your teeth and whether bleaching is the right treatment in your specific case. This is very important if you have tooth fillings, crowns, or have undergone root canal treatment and if the anterior teeth have very dark stains.
Depending on the condition of your teeth, your dentist will either recommend vital bleaching or non-vital bleaching. Vital bleaching technique is employed to whiten your living teeth that have become discolored due to use of tobacco or certain food items or because of aging. Non-vital bleaching is done on non-living teeth. If the cause of discoloration is root canal treatment, then non-vital bleaching will be of great help.
Your dentist will recommend one of the three methods listed below for bleaching your teeth. The effectiveness of these methods will depend to a great extent on the number of teeth that are to be bleached and to the extent to which they are stained.
- Your dentist may put special bleach on the discolored teeth and apply heat and/or light to initiate the bleaching action.
• Your dentist may ask you to wear a mouth guard that is filled with bleach for some time each day.
• Your dentist may direct you to brush your teeth with toothpaste into which bleach is mixed.
If you are a candidate for teeth whitening through bleaching, it is best done under the care of a dentist. Bleaching of teeth is safe and effective only if it is done under controlled conditions in a dental office. You may experience irritation in the soft tissues and tooth sensitivity when you undergo bleaching treatment. However, these effects pass off after some time.