Tooth discoloration is one of the most common dental issue experienced by everyone at least once in their life. Drinking tea, coffee, or red wine can leave stains on the teeth over time. Additionally, smoking tobacco, a dental injury, or certain medications can cause severe tooth discoloration. Whatever the reason for tooth discoloration may be, it leaves prolonged-lasting emotional distress to the patient.
In most cases, professional tooth whitening treatments can help to restore the lost tooth color. Moreover, teeth whitening procedures provide a clean and bright smile. (1) Almost anyone whose permanent set of teeth have come in can qualify for teeth whitening procedures. However, people with healthy teeth without any fillings, restorations, or gum disease are considered as the best candidates for teeth whitening.
If you are considering teeth whitening, have a consultation with your dentist. A dentist can assess an individual’s oral health status and recommend suitable teeth whitening methods. Today’s article will highlight the best qualities of a suitable candidate for a teeth whitening procedure. Additionally, we will also look at some essential aspects of professional teeth whitening treatment.
What causes tooth staining?
Several factors can cause tooth staining and discoloration. Some of them are as follows –
- Consumption of tea, coffee, and red wine
- Consumption of dark-colored berries
- Tobacco smoking and chewing
- Excessive fluoride use can cause permanent tooth discoloration
- Medications like tetracycline
- Trauma to the teeth
What is the purpose of tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening is a dental procedure which lightens the color of the teeth. It can be achieved by either changing the natural tooth color or removing stains from the surface of the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide is the common active ingredient used in most of the whitening products.
It acts as an oxidizing agent and reacts with the organic pigments on the tooth surface. This process helps to remove the stains from the tooth surface and improve the color of the teeth. (2) Teeth whitening procedures can be done in two ways –
- In-office whitening – it is performed by a dental professional in a dental clinic. The concentration of hydrogen peroxide used in this procedure is high. In-office teeth whitening provide instant results and may require one to two sittings to get the desired shade. (3)
- At-home whitening – this can be achieved by using teeth whitening products available fro dentist or over-the-counter. Some of the teeth whitening products may include whitening toothpaste, whitening rinse, and whitening kits.
Who is considered a candidate for teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is an ideal procedure for patients who have healthy teeth without any fillings, dental caries, and gum disease. People who have yellow teeth respond well to whitening procedures. Patients with healthy teeth and general tooth discolorations; who have realistic expectations of the result are also good candidates for tooth whitening. (4)
Who is considered a poor candidate for tooth whitening?
Pregnancy and age issues
Tooth whitening or bleaching is not preferred for young children under the age of 16 years. Presence of large pulp chamber increases the risk of pulp irritation and inflammation. Moreover, it increases tooth sensitivity in such cases. Pregnant or lactating women are also not considered suitable for teeth whitening procedures.
People having sensitive teeth, receding gums, and defective restorations should consult their dentist before undergoing any tooth whitening procedure. People who are allergic to peroxide or any ingredient used in the whitening product should not use a bleaching agent or any tooth whitening product. (5)
Gum disease or other dental problems
Gum disease and tooth decay often cause tooth discoloration. However, tooth whitening is not the solution to these dental problems. The bleaching agent tends to enter the infected areas of the tooth and causes sensitivity. Therefore, cavities should be treated before undergoing any tooth whitening procedure.
Tooth fillings and repairs such as crown or bridge do not respond to tooth whitening procedures. Using a whitening agent in such cases may lead to uneven tooth whitening. Always schedule a tooth whitening procedure before the placement of veneers, crowns, dentures, or bonding restorations.
A minimum of two weeks is essential to allow whitening results to settle and match the color of tooth restorations. People with multiple tooth filling nad restorations should consider alternate options like bonding veneers or crowns instead of toot whitening.
It is essential to set realistic expectations while undergoing a tooth whitening procedure. People who expect their teeth to become ‘blinding white’ may often get disappointed with their results. Smokers should be aware of the fact that their whitening results will be limited unless they refrain from smoking.
How much do professional teeth whitening cost?
Professional teeth whitening procedures are the best but expensive choice of treatment. In-office tooth whitening is typically performed in a dental office where the dentist applies a higher concentration of bleaching agent to achieve the desired results.
Cost of in-office tooth whitening depends on various factors like the type of stains on the teeth, requirement of additional restorations or dental procedures. It takes around two hours in a dental office to complete the process of tooth whitening. However, some patients may require more than one visit to achieve the desired shade.
Typically, the cost of in-office whitening is not covered by dental insurance. The cost of a professional tooth whitening procedure may range from $500 – $1000.
Take away message
Tooth whitening is a dental procedure which uses a bleaching agent to improve the color fo the teeth. It helps to remove the surface stains and improve intrinsic tooth discolorations to some extent. Tooth whitening is one of the most popular procedure opted by people all over the world to achieve a bright and white smile. However, not everyone is suitable for tooth whitening procedure.
People who have healthy teeth and gums without any fillings, restorations, or dental problems are considered as ideal candidates for tooth whitening. On the other hand, people with tooth sensitivity, gum recession, tooth filling, crown, and bridge or denture wearers are not suited for undergoing tooth whitening procedures.
It is always best to consult your dentist before deciding on using any whitening product. A complete dental evaluation will help to identify the problematic areas which can be treated before using a bleaching agent.