Teeth whitening is also called teeth bleaching. It is the process carried out by a certified dentist with the aim of brightening/lightening the natural teeth colour without altering the teeth surface. Although it does not make a complete colour change, it lightens the existing shade. ‘Teeth whitening’ is necessary for people who have discoloured or stained teeth due to coffee, red wine, smoking, or tartar.

In-office bleaching

This method uses a high concentration of teeth whitening gel. A professional dentist can only apply it since the high concentration can damage the gums and the enamel. The gums therefore must be protected using a gingival barrier. The barrier prevents the chemical gel from getting into contact with the gums case, which can cause inflammation. This is the fastest method of teeth whitening. You will see the whitening results in one hour.

Benefits of in office teeth whitening

  • Under dentist supervision, it offers better results compared to over the counter whitening products
  • It is fast and reliable
  • It is convenient and custom made for different type of people

Disadvantages of in office teeth whitening

  • Possible risks of sensitivity to heat and cold when it is not done properly
  • Damage to the roots and inflammation in cases where the protective coating is not efficient

Note: a dentist can predict whether you will have issues or side effects after the procedure. Always do thorough consultation.

Teeth whitening trays

Although teeth whitening trays are effective, the desired results will take longer compared to in -office teeth whitening. The period depends on the strength of the peroxide used. Your dentist may require you to wear the clear trays a few hours in a day or overnight. There are two types of teeth whitening trays: those recommended by a dentist and over the counter trays. After a few days of consistent use, the results will be visible.

Should you opt for over the counter trays or recommended trays?

  • Whitening kits purchased from the counter contain a lower amount of peroxide. This means that they will take a few more days before the results become visible.
  • Trays from the dentist are custom made to fit your structure perfectly. They will therefore produce faster and more effective results.
  • Over the counter trays are purchased in a generic size, if you are not lucky to find that fits on perfectly, the bleaching agent may be exposed to your gums causing irritation.

Safety precaution tips when using over the counter whitening trays and gel

  • Choose a product with a moderate peroxide level since you are not under dental supervision
  • Follow directions. Do not leave the trays longer than advised.
  • Avoid acidic beverages during, and after, the whitening process
  • Avoid teeth whitening when pregnant or nursing
  • Do not overdo it. Learn when your teeth cannot whiten further or consult a dentist. For example, the areas around crowns may not bleach completely.

Over the counter Whitening strips

These thin, invisible strips are coated with a peroxide whitening gel/compound. Advanced whitening strips may provide more whitening results seven days after a full treatment. The period may vary depending on the level of teeth discoloration. The effects of whitening strips last for six months to one year. This means that whitening strips do not provide permanent whitening. You can prolong the results by using rinses and whitening toothpastes. Whitening strips cost from $12 to $30, which is less expensive when compared to other teeth cleaning methods.

Strips are easy to use since one package comprises of two strips: for the upper jaw and the lower jaw. Although the gel used is safe, children and pregnant women should use whitening strips only under dental supervision.

They are a good fix for a one-time occasion.

Teeth whitening toothpastes and rinses

Whitening toothpastes contain polishing agents that are more effective in removing stains. They do not contain any bleach. They remove surface stains on the teeth. Whitening toothpastes lighten the teeth by about one shade. This means that the results are negligible.

Whitening rinses on the other hand include mouthwashes. They contain bleaching agents. They not only brighten the teeth but also reduce dental plaque, dental diseases, and freshen your breath. It may take twelve to fourteen weeks to get visible results when you use it twice in a day.

However, while compared to other teeth cleaning methods, rinses and whitening toothpastes are less effective. They require consistency to obtain results.

Types of dental cleaning/teeth whitening

1. Prophylaxis cleaning

It is effective in preventing dental diseases, tooth decay, and dental plaque. It mainly focuses on removing tartar and plaque. It is performed on healthy teeth. It is common for people who visit the dentist regularly.

2. Scaling and root planning

It focuses on gums. It promotes re-attachment of bleeding gums. These cleanings are deep since they involve two main areas: planning and scaling. Planning involves smoothing out the roots while scaling involves removing residues that may hinder re-attaching. The two processes can be completed in a single office visit.

3. Periodontal maintenance cleaning

It is used for advanced gum disease. The main aim is to reduce bacterial population, inflammation of gums, and progression of periodontitis. Since periodontitis cannot be reversed, removing plaque from the teeth and gum pockets reduce its progress. This is more of a maintenance cleaning rather than a corrective procedure. Cleaning frequency is scheduled depending on the severity of the disease.

04. Gross debridement cleaning

It is used for people who struggle with daily dental hygiene. It aims at cleaning excessive plaque, and tartar build up. The dentist uses a dental scale followed by an electrical tool to break tartar. Once the two processes are done, a prophylaxis cleaning is done. This is more of a onetime event for people who rarely visit the dentist. It is not recommended for children below ten years.