Before having a discussion on the whitening process, we need to know the causes of discolouration. Normally, discoloured teeth derive from many factors.
Discolouration at the dentine: Dentine discolouration is caused by many reasons. For example, excessive intake of fluoride usually from drinking water can cause fluorosis. A child whose mother having antibiotics tetracycline during pregnancy can also develop dentine discolouration. Amalgram restorations and dead nerve tissue caused by trauma, decayed teeth, or root canal treatment can make the teeth turn dark or brown. Whitening might not work well with dentine discolouration, but veneer or facing should help.
Discolouration at the enamel: Scale, saliva, tea, coffee, soft drinks, red wine, and curry as well as smoking leave stubborn stains on your teeth. Poor dental hygiene even makes the situation worst. The yellow stains caused by bacteria and scale that are accumulated on teeth surfaces can be easily removed by dental scaling, teeth polishing, or air flowing. Avoid drinking coffee and tea, stop smoking or brush your teeth properly can help prevent stains on your teeth.
Discolouration caused by aging: When getting older, the outer layer of teeth enamel will be worn away. As a result, the natural yellowish colour of dentine is revealed. In this case, the colour of your teeth can be lightened by using some dental whitening gel. Your dentist will examine teeth and gum conditions to find and fix broken or chipped teeth, check the filling materials, clean your teeth, get rid of scale and treat infected gum before giving treatment.
Tooth whitening can be categorized as follows:
Laser Teeth Whitening
High efficiency light with low heat that can activate chemical reaction in the whitening gel is used in laser whitening. The light does not only bring out colour pigments effectively but its direction can be appointed more accurate than normal UV teeth whitening which has a wide beam and high heat. Therefore, laser tooth whitening is safe and does not irritate the gum. The procedure should be completed within 45 minutes.
Advantages of laser tooth whitening
- The result can be seen immediately after a one-hour treatment
- Laser reduces working time and decreases tooth sensitivity after treatment
- More comfortable since there is no tray-based teeth whitening overnight
- Certified by FDA and CE
Disadvantages of laser tooth whitening
- Sensitivity may be developed occasionally
- The result may not last long
- A home whitening is needed after receiving the laser treatment
- Suitable only when an immediate result is required
Cold Light Whitening
Low temperature cold light with special whitening formula is applied in this method; therefore, the process is more efficient and faster (approximate treatment time: 30-60 minutes). The cold light bleaching will not destroy teeth enamel and cause no harm to your teeth.
UV Whitening (Blue Light)
This whitening method uses heat energy with a wide beam to activate chemical reaction in the whitening gel. Side effects such as searing pain, inflammation, and sensitivity may develop in some patients. The occurrence of side effects is related to the intensity of chemical substances and time spent in the whitening process. However, the symptoms only appear during the whitening process and may not last long.
Whitening kits can be taken home and you can do it yourself under occasional supervision of your dentist. Patients need to have their impression tray individually make in order that it fits their gum perfectly and allows enough empty space for putting the whitening gel. The gel will be left overnight for 10-15 days. Normally you have to revisit the dentist once a week to let him estimate the result and adjust the intensity of chemical substances and treatment time.
Advantages of at-home whitening
- The long lasting result
- Less expensive
Disadvantages of at-home whitening
- Time consuming
- Some patients may experience sensitivity
After receiving teeth whitening treatment, you should
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid drinking tea, coffee, cola, red wine and other strong colour food
- Avoid drinking extreme hot and cold drinks
- Avoid eating sour food in the first two weeks
- Avoid using strong colour mouthwash or toothpaste
- Use recommended whitening toothpaste instead of the regular one
Please note that the treatment result varies considerably according to the nature of dentine.