Whitening is a process used to restore discoloration of the teeth in an otherwise healthy patient. There are many different methods of whitening which can work better than the others in each particular case. Whitening can reverse even the most serious discolorations such as cigarette stains and long time coffee drinking habit. However, it can not solve dental health problems such as tooth decay, which need further medical attention. There are two very popular methods of teeth whitening: in-office type and home kits.
The name “home kits” doesn’t imply that the patient is the one doing all the work, or that teeth whitening is something you can do on your own at home, using chemicals. A special mouthpiece is produced according to the measurements taken by the dentist. This specially produced mouthpiece ensures that the application of the whitening agent is efficient and safe. Using this mouthpiece, the patient must apply the peroxide solution provided by the dentist for a couple of hours every day for at least 4 weeks. The time and duration of this treatment may vary based on the condition of the teeth.
When teeth are not brushed often, a layer of plaque occurs over the teeth and covers it. Improper mouth hygiene exacerbates the collection of the plaque, resulting in a thicker layer, rich in bacteria, which in turn, reduces the white shine of the teeth, gradually discoloring it. Using tobacco products is one of the most prevalent and most influential factors in teeth discoloration around the world, although some items also contain chemicals that can color the tooth, such as tea and coffee.
To reduce tooth discolorations, you must consider giving up or at least reducing your consumption of tobacco, coffee and tea. You must brush your teeth at least two times a day for 2 minutes on average. If you are a big fan of sweets, and you can’t brush your teeth afterward, you should at least rinse your mouth after eating sweets. Dental floss allows you to reach and clear out places where toothbrushes can’t reach, thus help reduce bacteria which in turn reduces discoloration. You should visit your dentist regularly and get a check up.
Although these advices are universally applicable, there are cases where discoloration needs further investigation and perhaps a more comprehensive or detailed approach. It is imperative that you visit your dentist regularly for good oral health.
Home kits contain relatively low intensity agents for safety. These are gels with carbamide peroxide contents of 10-22%, which has the same effect as a 3% hydrogen peroxide. Whereas in-office whitening uses much stronger, yet safe when applied properly, agents containing 15-43% hydrogen peroxide gels. This provides an extremely large difference in the results, where 1 hour of in-office is enough to whiten teeth like 1 month of home kit treatment. Home kits use personalized mouthpieces which are not always comfortable to wear and they may be damaged as a result of misuse, resulting in leaking. Although this leaking is not dangerous as in-office agents. The dentist ensures that there is no leaking, no contact or any other complication in in-office procedures so even though the agents are stronger, the procedure is considerably more comfortable.
In terms of pricing, there is only a little difference between the two methods.
The decision to pick one method over the other should rest on the initial assessment of the cause of the discoloration. Depending on the underlying cause, the method and agents most appropriate may be decided by the dentist. In any case, the dentist and the patient must always be in contact to make sure everything is going as planned.
All whitening gels may cause slight sensitivity on the teeth, against heat or cold. Topical application of flourine significantly reduces discomfort. Toothpastes containing potassium nitrate and high volume of fluorine are also helpful against sensitivity.
Even after the whitening, you must continue regularly brushing your teeth and flossing to prevent discoloration.
If the patient is using/has used any medications leading up to the operation, the dentist must be notified
Avoid heat and cold for the first few days after the operation. Tobacco, tea, coffee, chocolate, red wine, cherry, caramel, tomato paste and other such food items which might contain food coloring should be avoided until 3-4 days after the end of the whole treatment period.
|Overview:||In-office or home kits of whitening chemicals are applied with or without laser to significantly whiten teeth|
|Length:||In-office only about 1-2 hours, home kits may last up to 4 weeks or more|
|Anesthesia:||Not needed as the procedure involves no pain whatsoever|
|Hospital Stay:||Not necessary, operation performed at outpatient clinic or at home|
|Side Effect:||Sensitivity may occur; this is fixed by application of fluorine in-office|
|Recovery:||Sensitivity is temporary|
|Results:||Lasts as long as dental hygiene is kept|