Teeth Whitening

Description of the procedure — Teeth Whitening

Teeth-whitening is a procedure that Ls used to lighten the -colour of a patient’s teeth through oxidation. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into free radicals that react with pigments within the teeth. The pigments, then, become gradually lighter.


How much whiter can teeth become?

Research has shown that 96% to 98% of patients react positively to the teeth-whitening treatment. Significant whitening can be achieved in the majority of cases but there is no a definite way to predict how much whiter one’s teeth will become after treatment. With in-office (i.e. at the dental clinic) whitening system, one or two or more sessions are usually required to significantly whiten the teeth. With take-home whitening system (Le. self-administered at home), two to four weeks of treatment, strictly following a prescribed regime, will result in whiter teeth.


Who are the best candidates for teeth-whitening?

Almost anyone can be a candidate for whitening treatment. Women who are pregnant and breast-feeding are advised to postpone the treatment. However, teeth-whitening treatment is not intended to whiten artificial teeth crowns, porcelain or composite veneers and other restorative materials.


What dental treatment is required before and after teeth whitening?

Scaling is recommended two weeks before the whitening treatment to reduce chances of getting tooth sensitivity. All the cavities or exposed dentine should be restored beforehand, Procedure such as crowns, bridges and veneers should be carried out two weeks after the teeth-whitening treatment. Maintenance kits, which may include toothpaste and a home-whitening system, are recommended to lengthen the duration of whitening effect.


Factors which can affect the outcome of the procedure

People with dark yellow or brownish teeth sometimes get better result than those with greyish or bluish teeth, Tetracycline-stained teeth, fluorosis, decalcification, discoloured teeth that had undergone root canal treatment, and teeth with history, of trauma do not whiten as well as other cases. These teeth may require additional courses of whitening treatment: or a combination of different types of teeth-whitening treatment, or they may not whiten at all after treatment. Discoloration due to nicotine stains respond poorly to whitening treatment and smokers are encouraged to quit smoking in order to attain better whitening results.


Tooth whitening is a safe procedure with proper use, however there are potential complications which include, but are not limited to:

Tooth Sensitivity/ Pain

Following the whitening treatment, one’s teeth may he sensitive, This sensitivity is usually mild and usually subsides in 24 hours; but it may worsen or be prolonged in some individuals. The dentist should be informed of any episodes of teeth-sensitivity before the whitening treatment begins. Individuals having gum recession, exposed dentine, exposed root surfaces, cracked tooth, open cavities and leaking restorations may experience prolonged sensitivity or pain after the treatment. During the whitening procedure at the dental clinic, the dentist win take precautions to prevent seepage into the teeth. Nonetheless, all dental cavities should preferably be restored before whitening treatment can begin. In addition, desensitizing agents and/ or painkillers will be prescribed to reduce the discomfort.


Gums/ Lips/ Cheeks inflammation / Dryness / Sore Throat

Tooth whitening agents may cause temporary inflammation (redness) inside one’s mouth giving rise to varying degree of burning sensation during or after the procedure, which subsides within a few days. With the take-home whitening system, irritation may result from wearing the tray continuously. It may be necessary to reduce the number of treatment sessions or stop the treatment until the inflammation subsides.

One may experience dryness of the mouth or chapping of the corners of the mouth/lips due to keeping one’s mouth open for the procedure. This can be treated by applying lip balm, petroleum jelly or vitamin E cream to the affected areas.

Most take-home whitening gels are thick and will not flow down the throat easily. However, if the gel is less viscous, the excess may flow down the throat and cause soreness. This will subside within several days. One should spit out the excess gel instead of swallowing it.


Effects on fillings and roots of teeth

Take-home whitening systems may “soften” tooth-coloured restorations and cause staining. Moreover, their current shade may not match the newly-whitened adjacent teeth. Root resorption is reportedly more frequently seen in root canal-treated tooth which has undergone whitening treatment.


Teeth-whitening treatment does not guarantee permanent whiteness of teeth. It is natural for its shade to undergo change or revert to its original shade after treatment. This process can be slowed down or hastened depending on the staining agents that the teeth are exposed to, In order to keep one’s teeth in their desired shade, maintenance is required either at the clinic or at home using a take-home whitening system.