Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments. It is suitable for people who have had their teeth thoroughly checked by a dentists first.
The different methods include in-practice bleaching, which is applied by a professional dentist; at-home bleaching, which is used at home by the patient; whitening strips, which are used by the patient and whitening toothpaste.
Bleaching is not recommended if there is tooth decay or infected gums, it is most effective on yellow discoloured teeth and least effective when the original tooth colour is greyish. It doesn’t work where teeth have been filled or bonded.
Some of the most common things we put in our mouth that stain teeth are:
- Wine and fizzy drinks consumed in excess
- Other foods and oral tobacco products with strong colours
- Chlorhexidine, which is a chemical bactericidal and bacteriostatic used as antiseptic in mouthwashes and toothpastes for the treatment of gingivitis and halitosis. Chlorhexadine doesn’t stain the teeth but it destroys the bacteria in the plaque which allows other staining agents to discolor the accumulation if the plaque isn’t removed.
The most common at-home method of teeth whitening involves having a cast of your teeth taken while you are at the dentists. This involves biting into a tray that is filled with dental putty.
The dentist uses this mold to produce a clear plastic cover, or tray for your teeth into which you place whitening gel. The cover can be worn overnight for a period of a week or so until you’ve achieved the right shade for your teeth. Some gels can be used for shorter periods and will achieve the same results. Your dentist will be able to advise.
In-practice bleaching procedures generally use a light-cured protective layer that is carefully painted on the gums and the tips of the gums between the teeth. The bleaching agent is hydrogen peroxide.
Power or light-accelerated bleaching uses light energy to accelerate the process of bleaching in a dental practice. Different types of energy can be used in this procedure, with the most common being halogen, LED or plasma arc. Most power teeth whitening treatments can be done in a single visit to the dentists which lasts less than an hour.
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