Is it safe to whiten my teeth with DIY kits?  Should I only trust my dentist?

Is it safe to whiten my teeth with DIY kits? Should I only trust my dentist?

There is a lot of work behind that easy, fun and warm looking smile, and teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic trick. That’s why, over the years, there has been a boom in (do-it-yourself) teeth whitening kits with advertising campaigns and very compelling promises. But is this really good for your teeth? Dr. Vivek Hegde, former president of the Indian Dental Association, says these diseases come with risks of damage to enamel or other oral health problems. He recommends a whitening treatment once a year or so for those who are cosmetically conscious and cautions against repeating home procedures.

What are the different types of stains on the teeth?

External stains are usually caused by a buildup of pigment material on the outer surface of the tooth. External changes in color may occur due to poor oral hygiene, ingestion of foods and drinks with chromogenic pigment and tobacco use. They may not always need teeth whitening procedures and can be taken care of with oral prevention procedures followed by some dental polishing protocols.

Internal spots are usually caused by deep internal spots or enamel defects. They are caused by aging, ingestion of chromogenic foods and drinks, tobacco use, microcracks in the enamel, tetracycline drugs, excessive fluoride intake, severe childhood jaundice, porphyria, tooth decay, restorations, and thinning of the enamel layer.

Aging is a common cause of discoloration. Over time, dentin tends to darken due to the formation of secondary dentin, which is darker and more opaque than original dentin. This becomes visible when the upper enamel becomes thinner. This combination often results in darker teeth. Internal stains cannot be removed by regular preventive procedures and you need a teeth whitening procedure for treatment.

What is the bleaching mechanism?

The active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, an oxidizing agent. It spreads through an organic matrix of enamel and dentin. This produces free radicals responsible for the bleaching process. These radicals open up the highly pigmented carbon rings and turn them into lighter-colored chains.

How are the procedures done at home and in the clinic?

There are two ways in which teeth whitening procedures can be carried out: professional teeth whitening in a dental clinic and teeth whitening at home. There are a variety of at-home bleaches, which can include trays, strips, gels, and bleaches. Most are a one-size-fits-all treatment and can, on average, help you get whiter teeth slowly, perhaps over weeks or months. However, if an over-the-counter whitening product promises immediate results, beware: It’s likely incorrect, or reliant on harsh bleaching materials that can damage your teeth and gum tissue. Some products can harm your gums and teeth in the long run, especially lower quality products. Gums can shrink back and dry out in response to the harsh bleaches, which make you more susceptible to infection and eventually tooth decay.

We especially caution patients with extensive cavities or untreated dental problems from at-home whitening tools because the whitening can extend into the cavities and permanently damage the tooth structure. It can also damage nerves, cause toothache, and lead to stomach problems.

Mottled or mottled teeth are also a common result of over-the-counter whitening because the whitening trays are not intended to fit your teeth. So, any irregularities, angles, or different shapes can cause the bleach to stick in only some places, which is not the case with professional bleaching. Typically, at-home bleaching kits require you to wear trays or strips for a set amount of time each day. Drawer-type products need a few hours per day, while strips can sometimes be worn for only a few minutes per day. It is common for users of these products to experience increased tooth sensitivity and gum pain during treatment.

Why does professional teeth whitening work better?

Professional teeth whitening is another option for patients to get it done in the dentist’s office. The final teeth whitening should be done under the supervision of a dentist which takes about 30-60 minutes. Stronger chemicals are used, which are chemically activated, light or laser activated for effective results. For sustainable results, the whitening combination in the office and at home works for longer.

If you have a professional whitening in a dental clinic, trained staff take impressions of your teeth and use them to create specialized, fitted trays. Professional teeth whitening in a dentist’s office takes less than an hour in some cases and is non-surgical. The procedure involves isolating the teeth and applying a whitening agent. A special dental light is then turned on the teeth to activate the whitening solution. After about 15 to 30 minutes, the bleaching agent is cleaned off. If the patient is not satisfied with the results yet, the process can be repeated until the desired results are achieved.

Also, the whitening process in the dental office is not instant but usually the course takes two weeks to complete. Made-to-order trays are customized and sized to match the size of your teeth, allowing you to get more effective results from home appliances. Sensitivity or pain is not a challenge, as the dentist carefully adjusts the right amount of whitening agent to the teeth. If the patient experiences any side effects, the dental team is able to administer them in the office safely and effectively.

How often can teeth whitening procedures be followed safely?

Dentists recommend getting a whitening treatment once a year or so for most patients to keep their smiles aesthetically pleasing. Teeth whitening can often cause certain oral health problems, such as enamel damage. Please note that staining foods such as tea/coffee/wine and spices should be strictly avoided during the first 72 hours after the procedure.

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