Teeth whitening is as easy as visiting your dentist. Once there they’ll lighten your teeth, which helps remove any stains or discolouration you have. This is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures today since it improves the way your teeth look. However, you must do this regularly so you can maintain your teeth’s brighter colour.
What teeth whitening is used for
The outer layer of your tooth is the enamel and is what helps give your teeth their natural colour. If your enamel is too thin, the underlying dentin will show through. Both of these areas become stained on a daily basis as a thin layer of pellicle forms there. Your tooth enamel has pores which means stains aren’t easily removed. Some of the most common reasons for such stains include drinking something with a dark colour, not taking care of your teeth properly and aging.
Stains can also form on the inside of your tooth. These are known as intrinsic stains. They are caused from having too much fluoride as a child, taking tetracycline antibiotics, and trauma. Teeth whitening will not affect these stains, it only works on extrinsic stains.
How teeth whitening works
When you are ready to have your extrinsic stains taken care of, your dentist will first ensure you don’t have any cavities and if you do have them, your dentist will fill them. This is important since the whitening solution can pass through the decayed areas of your teeth, reaching the innermost parts of your tooth.
Once your teeth are healthy, your dentist will take a photograph to track the whitening process. Next you’ll have your teeth cleaned to remove some of the staining.
Now, it’s important to understand that there are two main types of whitening procedures:
- Vital whitening occurs on teeth with live nerves. It is a safe, conservative, inexpensive, effective procedure.
- Non-vital whitening occurs on teeth with dead nerves (where you’ve had a root canal done).
Your dentist will paint a liquid hardening resin on your gums and then place a bleaching material inside the tooth where it’s left until it reaches the desired colour (about 15 – 30 minutes). The bleaching material is then removed and your dentist repeats the procedure one more time. Sometimes an intense light is held on your teeth throughout the bleaching process. Once the process is complete, the tooth is then sealed with a white composite filling, and the dentist measures how much change took place.
Advantages of the procedure
While this is a cosmetic procedure, there are some other benefits to having teeth whitening done:
- it works quickly
- it treats deep stains
- if you have sensitive teeth professional teeth whitening may be preferred as home whitening kits contain products that may irritate your teeth
What to expect after whitening
After the procedure, you may feel some minor sensitivity throughout your mouth, but this should disappear quickly. Overall, you will find that this is an easy way to improve the look of your teeth for a year or two. Of course, how long the procedure lasts will depend on your diet and oral health care routine.
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