Nowadays, with the advent of pocket-size digital cameras, camera phones and thanks to the popularity of Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, every moment is becoming a Kodak moment. We all like to show off a bright, white, radiant smile as it expresses confidence, vibrance and warmth. Some say a bright smile can be more notable than a business card, more welcoming than a handshake. However, many of us are embarrassed to smile due to stained, discolored or chipped teeth. For certain types of tooth discoloration, teeth whitening can be an effective way of restoring brilliance to your pearls.
There are different types of products for teeth whitening. The most readily available are the over-the-counter whitening strips and gels. They can be quite effective for certain types of tooth discoloration. The disadvantage of these products is that you don’t get a dentist’s professional opinion on whether they are safe or effective to use for your particular condition. And because of the lack of professional supervision, these products usually come with a lower concentration of the active ingredient in their formulation. The dentist supervised whitening can be either a home-care procedure or an in-office one. For the home-care procedure, custom-fitted mouth trays are made for you whereby whitening gels are dispensed into the trays, and the trays are worn for a few hours a day, for several days, similar to the duration of wear for the commercial over-the-counter products. The difference is that the professional whitening gels usually have higher concentration of the active ingredient. The in-office procedure, as it is applied professionally by the dentist, can have a much higher concentration of the active ingredient, which can produce significant results in as little as one appointment. Whitening toothpastes can be useful in removing surface stains to preserve the tooth colour after teeth whitening, but cannot clean the internal stains inside the enamel as with whitening gels. It is important to note the following before you consider teeth whitening:
1. Teeth whitening is not advisable for women who are pregnant or breast feeding.
2. If you have cavities, leaky fillings, gum disease, thinning enamel etc., then the risks posed by whitening will be more than just the expected teeth/gum sensitivity for a short duration. They can be severe enough to cause serious tooth and gum damage. All these problems should be addressed before the whitening.
3. The success of teeth whitening depends on the intrinsic natural color of your teeth and varies among individuals. Certain tooth discolorations cannot be whitened, as well as fillings, crowns/caps, veneers, bondings, bridges, dentures, or exposed root surfaces. These require other dental procedures to resolve.
Teeth whitening is a good option to brighten your smile, but it is not the only option, and sometimes, it may not be the right option. It is always advisable to get a full dental examination by your dentist prior to any whitening to determine its safety and effectiveness for your particular condition.