Cosmetic dentistry has improved drastically over the last
few years and tooth whitening/bleaching forms an integral part of it.As a person ages, the adult teeth become darker due to changes in the mineral structure
of the tooth as the outermost white layer/enamel becomes less porous. Teeth can
also become stained by bacterial pigments, foodstuffs and tobacco.
There are several methods to whiten teeth such as bleaching strips, at-home whiteners
and in-office bleaching. Current tooth bleaching materials are based primarily on
either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Both may change the inherent colour
of teeth but have different considerations for safety and efficacy.
The results of bleaching are effective although results may vary, depending on such factors like the type of stain, age of the patient, concentration of the active agent, treatment time and frequency.
In office dental bleaching agents are often selected to obtain a more profound whitening
of difficult stains in a short period of time. In addition to highly concentrated
chemicals, in-office systems also incorporate catalysts. These chemical catalysts
which may be activated by heat or light accelerate the decomposition of hydrogen
peroxide, thereby accelerating the bleaching reaction.
SIDE EFFECTS OF BLEACHING
The side effects that occur most often are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity
and mild irritation of the gums. Tooth sensitivity most often occurs during the
early part of the bleaching treatment. However these conditions are temporary and
usually disappear 1-3 days after stopping the treatment.
Prolonged exposure to bleaching agents may damage tooth enamel. This is especially
true in cases of home whitening solutions.
SITUATIONS WHERE BLEACHING IS NOT RECOMMENDED
- »Bleaching is not recommended in children under the
age of 18 years .This is because the pulp chamber or nerve of the tooth is enlarged
until this age. Tooth whitening under this condition could irritate the pulp or
cause it to become sensitive.
- »People who are sensitive/allergic to hydrogen peroxide
should not try a tooth whitening system without consulting a dentist.
- »Tooth whitening is also not recommended for pregnant/lactating
- »Individuals with sensitive teeth and gums, receding
gums and/or defective restorations should consult with their dentist prior to using
a tooth whitening system.