Do they know about the different whitening options and what they are actually doing to the teeth?
Most teeth are not completely white and are usually within a range of light greyish-yellow shades. Teeth may darken naturally with age but they may also appear stained from the use of tobacco products and certain food and beverages. Many Canadians, especially adolescents, want their teeth whiter and their smile brighter and the desire is steadily growing. Other than esthetics, children who have discolored teeth from a traumatic mouth injury, infection or medication use can often have a negative self-image and this can lead children and parents into the discussion of teeth bleaching. There have been a wide range of whitening options on the market for consumer because on this demand. There are two categories of whitening products: surface whiteners and bleaches.
The surface whiteners such as whitening toothpastes and gums work by using abrasives to improve the products ability to removes stains that are on the surface of your teeth. These products abrasives are usually only finer examples of what are used in regular toothpastes and therefore they are unlikely to cause great amounts of tooth wear. These products are limited to only removing surface stains and are not substitutes for professional cleaning from the dentist who is able to get into the crevices of the teeth.
Bleaching products on the other hand are able to alter the color of the teeth because they use peroxide-based products. It is important to note that not all tooth discoloration responds to tooth-bleaching treatment so a consultation with a dentist before proceeding with teeth bleaching to determine the cause of the discoloration will help determine if it is the right option for you. If there are fillings, root canals, crowns or extremely dark stains on the anterior teeth, the response to whitening may vary and it is even more important to seek a dental consult prior to any treatment.
The two methods to whiten teeth depend upon the reason for discoloration. In teeth that are living and have become stained from food, beverage, tobacco products or have darkened with age, vital bleaching is used. It is usually done on the surface of the teeth. In those teeth that are no longer alive and have changed color after a dental procedure such as a root canal, non-vital bleaching that can be used. It is usually done from the inside of the tooth.
The method of bleaching the teeth will depend upon the number of teeth that need bleaching and how badly stained they are. A special bleach that is put on the teeth in combination with heat (through light or heat) that can activate the bleaching process can be used. A custom fitted mouthguard filled with bleach that can be placed in the mouth for part of the day is another alternative or a special bleach mixed in with toothpaste to whiten the teeth can also be used.
Whitening teeth through the bleaching method should only be done under the supervision of a dentist. Dentists can create a custom tray for a home-use bleaching system that will ensure a proper fit and greater efficiency of bleaching agents. Whitening the teeth may have side effects and some individuals may experience tooth sensitivity and irritation of the soft tissues, which is often transient and will go away on its own. However, the long-term effects of tooth whitening, especially in children, are unknown at this stage and further research is needed.
Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre