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North West Regional Health

Teeth Whitening

“Keep your head high, Keep your chin up and most importantly keep smiling, because life’s beautiful and there‘s so much to smile about “-Marilyn Moore.

A smile creates an immediate effect on the people you meet. A bright smile is perceived as a healthy smile. In the blooming world of cosmetic dentistry, Teeth Whitening is much appreciated by men and women alike.In this article we shall throw light upon Teeth Whitening . Does Teeth Whitening work and is it safe? Let’s answer these questions.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth Whitening is a safe and an efficient way for people to brighten their smiles. It involves bleaching of your teeth to make them lighter. It lightens the existing color of your teeth to several shades.

What are the types of Tooth Discolorations or Tooth Stains?

There are two types of discoloration or staining:

External Stains or Extrinsic Stains: These stains appear on the external surface of the teeth due to prolonged exposure to dark colored beverages such as red wine, tea, coffee, braces, smoking and foods with tannins. Long term and persistent extrinsic stains penetrate into the dentin and become intrinsic stains if not dealt early.

Internal stains or Intrinsic Stains: These stains form on the interior of teeth. These stains result from trauma, aging, medications like tetracycline, excessive ingestion of fluoride, developmental disorders and root canal issues.


Who should opt for Teeth Whitening treatment?

The dentist will usually advice you for Teeth Whitening if you have any of the extrinsic stains mentioned above, mild tetracycline and fluorosis stains and age yellowing or greying of teeth.

It is generally not recommended for severe tetracycline staining, plastic and peroxide allergy, and severe fluoride stains.

It is also not recommended for pregnant and breast feeding women.


Types and Procedures for Teeth Whitening

Over the counter (OTC) or Home tooth whitening systems

OTC products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste or chewing gums mechanically remove surface stains and provide temporary results. These methods do not make a big difference but are useful to maintain professionally whitened teeth.

Other products such as whitening strips and paint on products use a low concentration of peroxide based whitener. Since it is relatively inexpensive, these products can reduce age or diet related staining upto two shades of whitening.


Professional Teeth Whitening

This includes:

Laser / In-Surgery Teeth Whitening

Professional Home Whitening Kits


Laser/In-Surgery Teeth Whitening

Before starting with this procedure the dentist will thoroughly clean the teeth removing any surface stains or tartar. This procedure is commonly known as scaling and polishing. Then the dentist will make record of the shade/color of your teeth using a shade guide. The area is then prepared for the procedure. The dentist will isolate the teeth and gums to avoid any potential damage or burning to gums as the bleaching compound contains high concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

A whitening gel is then applied to the teeth. LED special light is required to activate and speed up the process of whitening. After 15 minutes the gel is removed and the process is again repeated for 2 times. Total time taken for the procedure is approximately one hour. Whitening results are very effective and can often be upto 10 shades lighter.

Professional Home Whitening Kits

The dentist takes an impression of your teeth using a special dental material. Custom trays are made using this impression over which the user will apply a thick peroxide gel for at-home use. Results are effective upto six shades of improvement.

Does Whitening work on all Teeth?

Teeth whitening only works on natural teeth. It will not change the color of the crown, veneers or fillings and one may have to change these to match the color of whitened teeth.

What are advantages & Disadvantages of Teeth Whitening?

Advantages Of Teeth Whitening:

Whiter Teeth-This improves the appearance of an individual. Whiter teeth are associated with beauty and healthy lifestyle.

Simple Procedure

Non Invasive and Safe

Relatively inexpensive


Disadvantages of Teeth Whitening:

Sensitivity-Bleaching can cause temporary sensitivity in teeth to touch, pressure and temperature. But this normally subsides in a day or two. If the sensitivity prolongs then desensitizing gels are given which reduces the sensitivity.

Irritation of Gums-Some degree of irritation may result from bleach concentration or from contact with whitening trays.

Technicolor-Dental crowns, bonding or Porcelain veneers are not affected by bleaching and restore their original color while surrounding teeth are whitened. This results in Technicolor teeth.


After Care Instructions:

One should practice excellent oral hygiene i.e. brushing and flossing after the meals and at bed times.

Avoid dark color foods and beverages for at-least a week after the treatment.

When sipping dark color beverages sip with a straw whenever possible.

Smoking and chewing tobacco should be avoided.

Maintenance kit should be purchased and used to keep stains from re-accumulating on teeth.


With proper care taken and instructions followed, I am sure you will be looking forward to showing off your smile.


Endodontic Practice – eleventh edition – by Louis I Grossman, Seymour Oliet, Carlos E. Del Rio
Oral Pathology – fifth edition – by Shafer,Hine,Levy
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry