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As my first blog, I felt nothing can be a better topic to start with. As a dentist, this is the most frequently asked question by patients. Firstly what I would like to highlight is that teeth whitening, bleaching or brightening can be done for most patients but not all. There are many different types of whitening therapies or techniques available to us today.
There are also many over the counter products which claim to whiten teeth. These need to be used over a period of time continuously. These are various whitening toothpastes and gels.
I for one do not advocate the use of these products as the peroxide content in them, which is the main ingredient is not strictly regulated. Also, long-term indiscriminate use of these pastes can lead to weakening and chipping of enamel.
Enamel is the hard outer covering of the teeth made up of calcium and other minerals.
So one can get a bright smile in less than an hour, which can last for a long time. But the procedure needs to be done by a professionally qualified dentist in the clinic. Also, the patient can enhance the result and make it last longer.
This is a great “non-invasive” and painless therapy, which can be completed in a single sitting. Which means there are no cuts or injections involved for the patient. Bleaching works very well in most cases except a few.
So, first of all, let me list out the cases where the above does not work:
- Chronic or chain smokers – Nicotine can severely stain teeth which affects the bleaching result.
- fluorosis or congenital stains and discoloration.
The next question I hear is “what is home bleaching”? “Is there any toothpaste that can whiten teeth”?
There are two main types of whitening treatments:
a) In Office – Whitening is done by the dentist in his office in a single sitting. Depending on the patient it is done in either two or three cycles. This can make teeth 3 to 5 time lighter than what it is.
b) Home bleach – Also known as a maintenance kit – In this, the patient is given some trays and the bleaching agent to be used at home. The result of this depends to a large extent on the patient’s compliance.
To answer the next question….No! whitening toothpastes do not really work. They can remove some surface stains caused by tea or coffee, but cannot lighten or whiten the teeth by removing deeper stains.
Also, a common concern among patients is that bleaching harms the teeth! This is a misconception as we use carbamide peroxide gel in different concentrations for the procedure. So this can cause a little sensitivity or tingling sensation in the teeth in sensitive patients. There is no damage caused to the enamel.
The last but not the least, most concerning for patients is “How long will my whitening last”??
This depends on how well the post-treatment instructions are followed by the patient. Some precautions which can be taken to prolong the treatment results are:
- Avoid smoking for 24 hours post bleaching.
- Avoid food and drinks which contain color for 2 to 3 days after the treatment. This means foods like tandoori chicken and turmeric in Indian curries should be avoided.
- Tea, coffee etc. which contain caffeine should be avoided.
So, yeah beautiful white pearlies are totally possible……So go ahead and book you next whitening session and dazzle the world!!