Many people, both young and old, are interested in having a “Hollywood smile”. The most popular and simplest procedure in modern dentistry for improving the aesthetic appearance of teeth is the teeth whitening procedure. There are various possibilities of improving the colour of teeth, whether during professional whitening in the office or using a tray with whitening gel for self-application at home.
Although the cosmetic whitening procedure is quite popular, not many patients opt for it, due to false myths circulating around the procedure.
However, many studies confirm that teeth whitening is safe and effective. A moderate to significant change in colour can be observed in almost every patient who decides to undergo teeth whitening. It should be remembered, however, that teeth whitening is not a permanent solution and requires “refreshing” and the use of appropriate toothpastes to maintain the effect.
Discolouration of teeth
The natural colour of a tooth ranges from white through shades of grey-blue to ivory. Tooth discolouration can be caused by external factors that create deposits on the tooth surface as a result of the deposition of pigments from dark drinks, food and tobacco. This discolouration can affect both enamel and dentin. Superficial deposits on the enamel are usually removed by brushing or preventive cleaning in the office, while the deeper deposits located in the dentin can only be removed by whitening.
Discolouration caused by intrinsic factors may be caused by, among others, drugs (tetracyclines administered during tooth formation, fluorosis, materials used in the past for root canal treatment, chemical disorders during the maturation of enamel and metabolic diseases) and trauma.
Before we take steps to improve the aesthetic appearance of teeth, it is necessary to correctly diagnose the cause of discolouration and to select an appropriate whitening method for live and dead teeth.
The intensity of the discolouration depends on:
The maximum teeth whitening effect that can be achieved is predictable and we discuss this thoroughly with the patient prior to the procedure. In order to avoid unnecessary disappointment on the part of the patient, he or she should be informed that we will never achieve the “tile white” effect and that the final colour after whitening is individually variable. However, many patients are satisfied with the result they obtain.
"Two sides of the coin" - What can be the side effects of whitening?
Teeth hypersensitivity after whitening
Dentine hypersensitivity usually manifests itself as severe pain, caused by harmless thermal stimuli such as heat and cold, taste – acidic products, or touch – e.g. during tooth brushing. It may affect individual teeth or their entire group.
The phenomenon of hypersensitivity very often occurs after teeth whitening. However, the degree of intensity is individually variable
and may range from discreet discomfort to strong sensations.
Usually hypersensitivity does not occur during the procedure itself, but if it does, the whitening procedure should be stopped. Most often, however, it appears only after a few hours and lasts no longer than 1-2 days. In order to reduce hypersensitivity after whitening appropriate preparations are applied, which can reduce hypersensitivity to a minimum.
In case of overlay whitening, hypersensitivity may last longer and an additional side effect is gum irritation caused by excessive filling of the trays with gel, as a result of which the gel flows out and irritates the soft tissues. Such irritation usually lasts a few days and disappears spontaneously. If such a situation occurs, the patient has to stop whitening by means of trays for some time until the pain stops.
Provided that professional teeth whitening in the surgery and teeth whitening at home by means of trays is performed in accordance with the recommendations, it may be stated that these procedures are completely safe.
Maintaining a white smile after whitening
The maintenance of the whitening effect depends largely on the lifestyle, i.e. on such factors as: diet, smoking and proper oral hygiene. It should be remembered that the whitening effect achieved should be maintained by using proper toothpastes designed for that purpose and repeating the whitening reminder once in a while.
Cosmetic or therapeutic treatment?
In many countries, tooth whitening is considered to be a purely cosmetic procedure, however, in addition to improving aesthetics and well-being, it can also be treated as a therapeutic procedure mainly in patients with fluorosis or tetracycline-derived discolouration.
Ways of teeth whitening in our office:
Professional in-office teeth whitening with the BEYOND™ lamp
The advantage of professional tooth whitening in the office is the rapid achievement of a significant change in colour in a relatively short period of time.
In-office bleaching is performed under the supervision of a dental hygienist and involves the application of preparations with a relatively higher concentration of an active substance than in case of overlay teeth whitening at home.
The BEYOND™ teeth whitening procedure is a one-time procedure and consists in the application of a special whitening gel on the surface of the teeth and then activating it by the light of the accelerator.
Preparing teeth for whitening treatment:
Procedure of teeth whitening with BEYOND™ lamp
An alternative to porcelain veneers are veneers made from highly aesthetic composite materials. The advantage of composite veneers is that the dentist makes them in one visit directly in the patient’s mouth. Before the veneers are placed, the colour, shape and size of the teeth are determined together with the patient. If the colour is to be lighter than your natural teeth, and veneers will only be placed on certain teeth, it is better to undergo a tooth whitening treatment first.
Composite veneers may change colour over time, so they need to be corrected during regular check-ups every 6 months.