W - Whitening (A to Z Challenge April 2014)
In most cases, the natural colour of teeth is within a range of light greyish-yellow shades. Teeth naturally darken with age and their appearance can be affected by the accumulation of surface stains acquired from the use of tobacco products and the consumption of certain foods or drinks. In addition, the perception of the colour of teeth is severely affected by skin tone and make-up. Independent of the real colour of their teeth, people with darker skin or who use dark makeup will look like they have brighter teeth.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter. Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth brilliant white, but it can lighten the existing colour by several shades.
Who can perform teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be performed by a dentist or another regulated dental professional, such as a dental hygienist or dental therapist, on the prescription of a dentist.
Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, but this is illegal if there's no dental professional present, and it may put your oral health at risk.
You can also buy DIY home teeth whitening kits but these may also carry risks.
Types of Teeth Whitening:
There are various ways to whiten your teeth, but the two most common are in-office treatment and the do-it-yourself approach, with over the counter products.
- In Office Teeth Whitening : Professional teeth whitening in a dental office is the preferred method because even though stronger agents are applied, the rest of the mouth including the gums are protected from the bleach solutions. The best whitening systems feature a buffer in the gel that protects the tooth enamel from damage, are extremely effective, and can transform teeth in a single office visit. Your teeth can literally brighten up to 10 shades in about an hour.
- Over the counter (OTC) or Home tooth whitening systems : Commercially available tooth whitening systems have become popular, mainly because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Whitening strips, whitening toothpastes and whitening gum are OTC products can can be purchased without the dentist's supervision. They are typically safe products. While OTC tooth whitening products are available, dentist supervised home teeth whitening remains the safest and most effective method for brightening your smile. The dentist makes customised mouth trays for you and gives you a kit containing the whitening solutions and the trays.