Your teeth may be discolored due to the natural aging process, stains from coffee, tea, soda and tobacco, tartar and plaque buildup, or trauma to the teeth that can cause discoloration.
Whatever the reason may be, teeth whitening is one of the most common procedures to recover or achieve that dream smile you’ve always wanted.
What’s the difference between Tooth Whitening and Tooth Bleaching?
Tooth whitening is usually done using consumer whitening products such as whitening toothpastes and results in making teeth one shade lighter.
Meanwhile, tooth bleaching utilizes either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which is 1/3 as strong as hydrogen peroxide) and can make teeth three to eight shades lighter. For either of these approaches, we have the following choices:
- Whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives that help in removing stains. However, they do not contain any bleaching agents.
- Whitening strips and gels are peroxide-based, and are placed directly on teeth.
- Whitening mouthwash products add peroxide-based agents to the usual mouthwash formulation.
- Tray-based tooth whiteners look like mouth guards that have a peroxide-based gel whitening solution which are worn for a couple of hours during the day, or at night.
- In-office whitening requires a visit to the dentist to perform the procedure. Bleaching agents are applied directly to the teeth, and heat, light or lasers are used to aid the bleaching process. A treatment takes 30-60 minutes, and may require multiple visits to the dentist to achieve the full effect, which can make it expensive.
Tooth whitening should not be undergone by children age 16 and below, pregnant or lactating women, and people with sensitive teeth and allergies. Tooth whitening is also discouraged for people with gum disease, worn enamel, exposed roots, and previous tooth restorations (such as fillings, crowns, etc.)
If you experience tooth sensitivity, give your teeth a break by using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, or consult a dentist for a product with fluoride.
Lastly, always remember to check to see if your chosen whitening product has been approved by the dental association of your country of residence to ensure that it is safe to use.