Teeth whitening is performed to remove the stain and discoloration. One of the most commonly used cosmetic dental procedures; it greatly enhances the appearance of your teeth. Not a one-time procedure, it needs to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the bright colour.
The outer layer of the tooth called enamel gets thinner in some cases, exposing the lower dentin under it. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentin to show through. A thin coating on the enamel picks up stains and tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.
The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are smoking, drinking dark coloured liquids such as caffeine or red wine and not maintaining good oral hygiene. Ageing also makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and darker.
There are two types of whitening procedure – Vital Whitening and Non-vital whitening. While vital whitening is performed on the teeth that have nerves, non-vital whitening on the other hand is performed on a tooth that no longer has a live nerve. Non-vital is performed on a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment.
This is the most common form of tooth whitening and uses a gel that is applied directly to the tooth surface. Hydrogen peroxide is used for the whitening procedure. Laser beam is used to activate the gel and allows bleaching to happen faster.
The entire procedure takes between 30 to 90 minutes and usually requires up to three sittings. The number depends on the how severe stains are and how white you want your teeth to be. After covering the teeth with some special substance, whitening agent is applied on to the teeth and light is passed to determine the extent of dicolouration. Accordingly, bleaching may be suggested in some cases.
Vital whitening doesn’t prove to be effective in case of tooth that has undergone root canal treatment because the stains usually come from inside the teeth. In those cases, a different procedure is followed wherein whitening agent is placed inside the tooth and covered with a temporary filling over it. Depending the extent of stain, frequency of the procedure varies – in some cases it is performed only once where as in few cases it can be repeated until the tooth reaches the desired shade.