Teeth whitening is a procedure done to lighten the shade of your teeth without reducing any part of your tooth by using a gel composed of Carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

There are a number of reasons why the natural color of teeth becomes yellow, brown or gray.

1) Congenital / Medicine related

Tetracycline or Doxycycline (antibiotic) when taken at the same time that the permanent teeth are developing may make the shade somewhat grayish. This will be observed later in life upon erupting. Some mouthwash such as chlorhexidine or Iodine may also cause tooth stains.

2) Diet

Food and drinks that is heavily pigmented or has artificial pigments such as coffee, tea, coca-cola can attach to enamel and hence alter its color.

3) Smoking

Nicotine and Tar are the external stains found on the outer surface of the enamel upon prolonged smoking of tobacco.

4) Trauma

Accidents that cause trauma to the teeth and its devitalization may cause internal stains

5) Caries

Teeth that becomes carious are observed to have pinpoint or localized stains. But once the caries reaches the vital pulp and causes it to be inflamed and potentially devitalized, it becomes grayish in color both internally and externally.

6) Age

The outer enamel layer gets thinner as we age due to brushing and other factors. This makes the yellow inner layer which is the dentin to show through.

What are the procedures?

The gums are covered with a protective gel to the gums or a rubber shield. The bleach is then applied to the teeth. UVor laser light will be used as an activator or to increase the effectivity of the bleach.

Will there be any side effects of teeth whitening?

Most commonly reported is teeth sensitivity. This is because some of the bleach that is used penetrates the sensitive part of the tooth which is the dentin. Some patients do not finish the cycle repetitions and they reschedule on another appointment. Most of the cases reported are only temporary and fluoride may be used as a protective agent.

Can this be prevented?

This can be prevented by advising the patient to use teeth desensitizers 2 weeks prior to the scheduled session for teeth whitening and 2 weeks after.

Will the whitening be permanent?

The effects of whitening can last up to three years but this actually depends on the kind of diet the person has. If the patient is fond of drinking coffee, tea or if he/she has a smoking habit, then the effects of whitening will be less likely to stay longer.

Will tooth bleaching be effective on all stained teeth?

Teeth that are devitalized will only be whitened by internal bleaching. Tetracycline may only have slight or no changes in bleaching and nicotine stains should be removed via teeth whitening or by using ultrasonic scalers.