Tooth Whitening: Requirement, Causes, Things to do Before Whitening and Look After

Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete colour change, but it may lighten the existing shade. It helps to remove stains

Updated: November 13, 2017

Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural color of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete color change, but it may lighten the existing shade. It helps to remove stains and discoloration.
Whitening is not a one-time procedure. It will need to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the brighter color.

When is it required?

The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel.  Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel in combination with the dentin color. If the enamel is thinner it allows more of the color of the dentin to show.
The reflection of light and hence the color is also affected by smoother or rougher enamel.  A thin coating called pellicle is formed on the enamel everyday and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.
Tooth whitening can only lighten your existing tooth color and it only works on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of false teeth such as dentures, crowns and veneers. If your dentures are stained or discolored visit your dental team and ask for them to be cleaned.

Causes of Yellow or Stained Teeth:

Everyone is different and just as our hair and skin color vary, so do our teeth.
Aging makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentin becomes darker. The Other reasons are

  • Not taking good care of your teeth
  • Using tobacco
  • Drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, cola, tea and red wine
  • Calculus or tartar can also affect the color of your teeth.
  • Stains inside the tooth called intrinsic stains can be caused by exposure to too much fluoride as a child while teeth are developing. Tetracycline antibiotics can stain a child's teeth if taken by a mother during the second half of pregnancy or by a child who is 8 years old or younger when the teeth are still developing.
  • Trauma may also darken a tooth.
  • It can caused by tiny cracks in the teeth which take up stains
  • Tooth whitening is most effective on surface or extrinsic stains.

Things to do Before Tooth Whitening:

Whitening may make your teeth sensitive if you have tooth decay or receding gums. It also does not work on ceramic or porcelain crowns or veneers.
Other dental problems such as  cavities need to be treated before teeth are whitened. Because the whitening solution can pass through decayed areas and reach the inner parts of the tooth. If your gums have receded, the exposed roots of your teeth may appear yellow or discolored. Whitening products will not make them whiter.
Whitening can be done in the dental office or at home.
For whitening at home, your dentist can make trays to hold the whitening gel that fit your teeth precisely. Home whitening gel should be applied daily for 2 to 3 weeks. Over-the-counter kits also are widely available for home use which provide trays to hold the gel, or whitening strips that stick to your teeth. To avoid overuse and possible damage to your teeth and mouth be  sure to follow directions.
For in-office whitening, your dentist probably will photograph your teeth first which will help him or her to monitor the progress of the treatment. Your dentist will examine your teeth and ask you questions to find out the cause of staining. After that, the dentist or a dental hygienist will clean your teeth to remove the film of bacteria, food and other substances that build up on your teeth and contribute to the staining. Once this is done, the whitening procedure begins.

Look After of Your Teeth Once They Have Been Whitened:

Your teeth can be kept white by cutting down on the amount of food and drinks you have that can stain teeth. Quitting smoking can also help prevent discoloration and staining.
Following tips are recommended to take care of your teeth color:

  • Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Once must be done before sleeping at night.
  • Visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend.


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