Teeth whitening is one of the most common dentistry procedures today, and it is increasingly in demand. The reason patients go for it is mostly due to the looks. It is often that patients wish to whiten their teeth in order to adjust the colour between their natural teeth and crowns or veneers placed, but this procedure is also done on completely, or mostly healthy teeth.
A relatively common occurrence may be something we call tetracycline teeth, which is teeth stained grey due to antibiotics intake during pregnancy. Also, dead teeth, or teeth that have had their root canal treated, will go grey, so that patients sometimes come in for single tooth whitening, or this discoloration may motivate them to do a complete jaw whitening.
IN CLINIC TEETH WHITENING
The procedure itself involves applying special kinds of gel onto teeth surface. These gels penetrate the enamel and reach dentin, which changes the colour of the tooth from the inside, since the enamel is translucent, and dentin is responsible for the colour of our teeth. The base for this gel is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide and it may be applied in different concentrations. The gel may be applied at the clinic, or it may be activated via laser to speed up the process. In practice, the best results are achieved by combining in clinic whitening and a night mouth piece. However, what most patients are unaware of is the fact that any teeth whitening procedure is painful, or unpleasant at the least.
TEETH WHITENING IS NOT PLEASANT
In order to be able to withstand in clinic teeth whitening, patient is sometimes given a sedative, as well as strong pain killers, and the teeth will suffer increasing sensitivity for days after the procedure. At times, it is necessary to repeat the whitening, where tetracycline teeth present a particular problem, since they are difficult to whiten in the desired shade. A root canal tooth also presents a difficulty. In most cases, more than one visit is needed in order to change the gel, which may lead to tooth breakage (the tooth has been weakened by the process), with a strong possibility that the colour will return to its old grayish hue within the next 6 months.
Certain patients will go through the treatment without any complications, but there are far more those who will give up the treatment half way through! We cannot point to a single case of a patient returning a few years after the first whitening asking to repeat it, since once a patient has gone through the procedure, there is little likelihood that they will choose to go through it again. The fact remains that teeth whitening produces excellent short term results, and when combined with home night treatment it may prolong this positive effect. However, according to patients’ experience, the night mouth piece is quite unpleasant to wear as well, even though the gel concentration is relatively low.
Simply put, teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure. There are inherent risks and inconveniences, but the reward of high esthetic outcome is good enough a reason for some.