Teeth whitening is one of the most popular techniques for aesthetic purposes today in dental clinics. The color of our teeth is one of the most important factors in having a good smile and professional whitening treatments have proven to be an easy, effective and very attractive option.
What is tooth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a treatment practiced to modify the color of our teeth in order to obtain a “whiter” smile. The process manages to reduce the color of the dental pieces by several tones. leaving teeth whiter and brighter.
It is important to clarify that teeth whitening is a dental treatment and not merely aesthetic, so it should not be taken lightly and should always be performed by a dentist chartered professional.
Why do our teeth darken?
The enamel of our teeth has millions of microscopic pores that, over time, allow a variety of organic compounds from external agents to pass through (tobacco, drinks, foods with certain pigments…) to our dentin, causing its color to darken.
The process of aging, wear and tear, trauma and our oral cleaning habits I throughout our lives are also determining factors in the shade of our teeth.
How is teeth whitening done?
There are several teeth whitening techniques, but the most popular is photoactivation. This treatment is performed through the application of a whitening gel (carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) fewer post-treatment sensitivity problems. since it is more comfortable for our patients by causing led light whitening we use Comprehensive Dental Institute (laser, LED or ultraviolet). At the which is activated by the direct application of a light source
The three basic steps of photoactivation whitening are:
1.- Consultation and review: Your dentist will carry out a study of your mouth to ensure that is healthy (free of cavities, periodontal disease or tartar plaque) and will perform a prophylaxis cleaning in preparation for treatment.
2.- Application of the whitening gel: Using a custom-made splint , the They will protect the soft tissues of the mouth (gums, tongue and palate) and the whitening gel will be applied.
3.- Application of LED light: To intensify the effects of the gel in its release of oxygen from peroxides.
Treatment options for teeth whitening
It will be your dentist who selects the most appropriate type of treatment for your case. He will monitor the amount of product used and its correct application to prevent unwanted side effects (pulpitis, hypersensitivity, root resorptions, etc.), ensuring that there is no danger to the gums, soft tissues, or teeth. There are several ways to carry out the process:
Teeth whitening in clinic
As a general rule, between one and three procedures are performed, allowing a rest period between each visit if it is necessary to return. During the visit the gel will be applied once the sensitive areas have been protected and the process will be accelerated by exposure to light. The treatment time is very short, ranging between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
Teeth whitening at home
This process can be done comfortably from home but always under the supervision of your dentist. The dental clinic gives the patient a home kit that will be applied (following the dentist’s instructions) through some custom made splints. It should continue acting for a few hours a day (it is common to perform this treatment during sleeping hours), for 3 or 4 weeks. The substances used in the outpatient technique are less concentrated than those used in the dental clinic.
Mixed teeth whitening
It consists of a combination of the previous treatments. Generally recommended for patients with very dark tooth color to enhance the whitening effect since its results are the most effective, being able to obtain up to 10 shades lighter once completed the process..
Recommended only for non-vital teeth (in which for different reasons the sensitivity of the nerve no longer acts). In these cases, the treatments we just mentioned will not work well. With internal whitening, the canals of the tooth are opened and the whitening product is applied inside the tooth. Then it is sealed and left to act for a few days. The treatment can be repeated to gradually achieve the desired tone.
If the piece is damaged, restoration with dental covers or veneers can be a good alternative to match this piece to the tone achieved for the rest of the mouth through whitening.
The results of whitening will not be fully appreciated until approximately 2 weeks after the treatment. This is very important if you are going to have any type of dental restoration and want to ensure that the color matches that of your recently whitened teeth.
Results, «The Perfect Target»
Depending on the treatment selected, results of between 4 and 10 shades of whitening can be obtained on the teeth.
There is no ideal shade of whiteness for our teeth, it depends on the client’s tastes. From our clinic we recommend that you seek an improvement in your smile, preserving the naturalness of the color in the final result.
Please, do not fall into white reoxia (obsession with having whiter teeth) increasingly common, especially among adolescents and young people. Blanco reoxia drives the patient to obsessively and excessively continue with treatments and opt for homemade solutions that will only cause permanent damage to their teeth.
Is enamel damaged by whitening treatments?
The enamel of your teeth will not suffer any damage as long as the treatment is carried out by a professional. The study of the state of your teeth , and monitoring the amounts of gel used for whitening and the exposure time are key factors to ensure satisfactory and risk-free whitening.
Care after treatment
Whitening is not painful but can leave a certain temporary sensitivity to temperature, touch and pressure during the days following the procedure. treatment in the patient’s mouth. Sensitivity to cold, discomfort in the gums and even the appearance of some white spots on the gum line are temporary symptoms that will disappear after a short time. However, if side effects persist, it is always advisable to contact our clinic. There are desensitizing gels that will help you calm the discomfort and toothpaste options with potassium nitrate that also help in these cases.
We also recommend avoid drinks and foods that contain acids (citrus fruits, vinegar, acidic soft drinks such as Coca Cola, Fanta, sodas…) since they will increase the sensitivity of the teeth and increase the risk of damage to the enamel when the treatment is recent.
How to maintain the effects of whitening?
The whitening effect after a professional treatment can range between 6 months and 2 years although there are cases in which the results have lasted up to 10 years.
Periodic maintenance is a good reminder treatment to preserve the color that you have obtained for longer and they are not very expensive since it is easier to preserve an already achieved tone than to obtain it from scratch. You can also follow a series of tips to prolong the effects and prevent your teeth from staining prematurely:
- Maintain good oral hygiene: brushing, flossing, regular cleanings in your clinic…
- Periodic whitening from home, always under the recommendations of your dentist.
- Avoid “dark” foods and drinks: dark chocolate, soups and stews with a lot of coloring, beets, sauces (tomato, soy…), blueberries, cherries, red wine, coffee , tea, juices (orange, currant, grape…).
- Drink with straw
- Do not smoke
What should I take into account when choosing my treatment?
The sale of whitening products and kits in pharmacies, supermarkets and other businesses is becoming more and more common, so that the patient can use them at home. Legislation requires that this type of product, designed to be used without professional supervision, does not exceed 0.1% peroxide concentration, so its whitening effect is practically non-existent .
The offer of treatments in non-specialized centers is also increasing, and it is important to know how they work before making a decision.
Whitening in centers not supervised by dentists
Aesthetic treatments are always tempting and have a high demand from the public (especially if they are accompanied by a promotion) which is why many centers related to aesthetics (hairdressers, spas, beauty centers…) add this service to their offer.
By law, only whitening performed in a Dental Clinic by a dentist or stemmatologist can use whitening agents with hydrogen peroxide concentrations above 0.6%, these levels are necessary to obtain the desired results.
Toothpaste with whitening effect
They help improve the shine of our teeth but do not perform a whitening action. They can reduce and in some cases clean some stains on our teeth, but in no case will they change the color of your teeth since the percentages of hydrogen peroxide are too low to be able to make decisive changes in the color. To perform noticeable whitening of our teeth with a lasting effect, we need to visit a specialist.
Fortunately, the regulations on the sale of whitening treatments without medical supervision are very strict in Spain. The levels of whitening agent in these products are limited to very low percentages, so in no case are they effective in the short or medium term. Due to the Lack of prior review and adequate monitoring by a professional, these treatments result in many cases in high risks and very low benefits.
“Home” Teeth Whitening
Every day the number of solutions and tricks for teeth whitening with home methods increases. It is a tempting option, since, in theory, it represents a great saving for our pocket but the use of solutions such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, acids, etc. They can create burns in your mouth and damage the enamel of your teeth among other complications, and can become the most expensive option if your dentist has to repair damage caused by at-home experiments.