Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teeth whitening: myth and reality

June 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles

Nowadays everybody’s short on time. In the midst of our hectic routine finding a moment to book an appointment, get there on time, spend an hour and a half sitting in the chair to have our teeth whitened and then hurry home to fix dinner seem like a challenge.  We want white teeth instantly; a mostly within our budget.  That’s one of the reasons behind the popularity teeth whitening kits to be used at home.

There are many myths about teeth whitening treatments; let’s try to debunk a few:

First myth: Whitening toothpaste is enough to have beautiful white teeth. This is not quite true. It depends on how stained the teeth are, and on the nature of the stains. Tooth enamel is composed of microscopic crystalline mineral rods, weaved more or less tightly depending of the individual. There are gaps between the rods where food rubbles accumulate. Stains can sometimes seep to the dentin of the tooth, which complicates cleaning. Whitening toothpastes often contain an abrasive material to wipe the strains (silica, calcium, sodium bicarbonate), but not enough active ingredients to actually change the color of the tooth.  Some also contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to remove stains by oxidation.  But for the peroxide to do its job, it must remain in contact with the tooth for a while. The time devoted to brushing is not enough to remove the deeper stains caused by accumulated rubbles. Whitening toothpaste of course improves the whiteness of the teeth by removing surface stains, but it will never bring such spectacular results as obtained by a treatment with whitening gel.   Maximum bleaching is only possible through more intensive treatment.  Whitening toothpaste however, is an excellent solution to maintain your teeth after a whitening treatment, removing more debris than a regular toothpaste would.

Second myth: Teeth whitening treatments greatly reduce the enamel layer. This is not quite true. When it happens the thinning of the enamel layer is insignificant and saliva contains minerals that restore the tooth enamel over time.  In some cases there may be slight irritation and tooth sensitivity after the first treatment but these side effects usually disappear after a few days of treatment. Therefore, if used as recommended by the manufacturer, the products to whiten teeth do not damage the tooth structure.  However, stronger products such as whitening gels should not be used year round.  There are many teeth whitening kits available on the market. Before you choose one, it is important to talk with your dentist, don’t start the treatment before you do.

Third Myth: The stains on the surface of the teeth are superficial and a home teeth whitening kit is enough to make them disappear. Not at all!  As explained above, the structure of the tooth enamel allows some rubble to seep through and change the coloration of the dentin. Stains on the outer surface of the tooth will easily disappear, but it will take several treatments to remove the deeper stains. Coffee, tea, colored foods, and smoking can cause deep stains over time. In some cases, professional treatments at the dentist may be necessary to remove these stains and restore the whiteness of the teeth. The tooth whitening products used by dentists contain more active ingredients than those found in stores.

Fourth myth:  All teeth can become white. False!  There are 16 different natural shades of teeth, according to the color of the dentin, and not treatment can make your teeth whiter than the natural tone of the dentin.  When all stains have been removed and the bleach has reached its full level of efficiency, it is useless to keep on with teeth whitening treatments. With age the teeth darken, even with regular brushing and a whitening treatment. But there are solutions to the problem.  If bleaching doesn’t work, the use of dental veneers can give you the pure white smile you’re dreaming of; talk to your dentist.

We’d all love to have the smile of a Top Model; but whitening one’s teeth is not that simple.  We don’t want a smile that attracts attention for the wrong reasons. When peoples start looking at our teeth more than at our eyes, it may be time to have a chat with the dentist to explore possible means to improve our teeth. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to restore our sparkling smile!

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