Your teeth are made of two layers- enamel and dentin. Enamel is the white protective layer of the tooth. Damage to the enamel can expose your dentin. Dentin is the core of the tooth. It also has a darker, yellow color. In addition to that, cracks in the enamel can fill with staining substances, like dark foods. If left for a long time untreated, stains can be difficult to remove.
Professional teeth whitening has been proven as safe and effective, grounded in simple science. The whitening chemicals, oxidizing agents, react with the foreign substances to break down and remove them more thoroughly than simply brushing your teeth can. Once the stains are removed, saliva will fill some cracks and remineralize but regular teeth whitening is necessary to maintain white teeth.
Teeth Whitening Results
While whitening can occasionally lighten tooth color by nine or more shades, most of those who bleach their teeth are likely to see a change of two to seven shades. The results are not fully seen until approximately two weeks after bleaching. This is an important consideration if you are about to have ceramic restorations and want to be sure the color matches that of your newly bleached teeth.
Teeth whitening results are subjective, vary from person to person. Many are delighted with the outcome, while others may be unhappy. Realistic expectations can make the difference between joy and disappointment. Before any whitening treatment, ask your dentist for an idea of the results you are likely to achieve and how long it should take to get there.
Some factors that can affect the color of your teeth include the following:
- The color your teeth started. Natural tooth colors can range from yellow-brownish to greenish-grey. Yellow-brown is usually easier to whiten than green-grey.
- Your age. Tooth color is lighter in younger people, such as teenagers, because they simply haven’t had enough time to acquire more than surface, or “extrinsic” stains. In such cases, the desired results of teeth whitening are usually easy to achieve. The older you are, the more likely it is that stubborn (intrinsic) stains have sunk deep into your teeth This does not mean whitening is impossible, just harder.
- What you eat. Consuming dark-colored, sugary, or acidic foods and liquids are a common cause of stains. Smoking tobacco products is another common cause, as nicotine leaves brownish deposits which slowly soak into the tooth structure and cause intrinsic discoloration.
- Teeth grinding or trauma caused by falls or injuries can cause many cracks that will fill and stain over time.
Some teeth are thinner and more translucent, and therefore appear less white. According to cosmetic dentists, transparency is the only condition that cannot be corrected by any form of teeth whitening.
In-office teeth whitening
During an office visit, your dental professional will apply the whitening gel and, depending on the system being used, will shine a light source directly onto the teeth. The entire office visit generally takes about 90 minutes with immediate results. The dentist generally cleans your teeth and places some sort of protective barrier on your gums before the whitening begins. The gels sits on your teeth for several minutes before the dentist washes it off. It is usually reapplied several times before the procedure is over. Many people report increased sensitivity in their teeth during this process but new gels contain sodium fluoride, which reduces this side effect significantly.