Can tooth whitening make my yellow teeth white?

With celebs endorsing a bright white smile, everyone of us wish for that dream smile. There are plenty of tooth whitening products available in the market. So it becomes important for you to know what tooth whitening is all about. Read on……

Why is my tooth yellow?

Yellowing of teeth is a natural process. As the outer enamel wears off and the inner yellow dentin is exposed, your teeth can look a little yellow. Also the colour of your enamel determine the degree of whiteness to your teeth. If the enamel is translucent, then your tooth looks paler as opposed to when the enamel is opaque, your teeth look whiter.

Stains can change the colour of your teeth. Tooth staining can be because of two reasons

  • Intrinsic
  • Extrinsic

Intrinsic stains are any discolouration of the tooth that is incorporated into the tooth structure. For instance, staining of teeth due to fluorosis or tetracycline.

Extrinsic stains are due to deposits on the tooth due to smoking, eating foods that have tendency to stain like red wine, coffee and tea.

Discoloured teeth can be whitened by tooth whitening 

What is tooth whitening?

Tooth whitening is a simple precess of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any tooth material. The procedure does not change the colour completely, but can lighten the existing shade. Tooth whitening is also called “tooth bleaching”. Tooth whitening products generally contain hydrogen peroxide or carbide per oxide as the bleaching agent. These bleaches disintegrate the stains and make the colour lighter and your teeth brighter.

Is teeth whitening permanent?

Teeth whitening isn’t permanent. It varies from person to person and the whitening effect  can last from a few months to up to 3 years. The whitening effect won’t last as long if you smoke or drink red wine, tea or coffee, which can all stain your teeth.

How teeth whitening works?

Teeth whitening works by lightening your tooth from the inside or the outside. Internal whitening, lightens the inner layer of the tooth. This is usually done for teeth that have changed colour due to trauma ( like a fall or tooth fracture that causes the tooth to discolour)

External tooth whitening involves removing the stains caused by smoking, tea or coffee. Your dental hygienist can do a polishing to remove these stains. You can also use a whitening toothpaste after polishing for better results. However, you have to be judicious in the use of whitening toothpastes as they contain coarse abrasives.

What Is professional tooth whitening?

Your dentist can help you whiten your teeth. A bleaching product ( generally a peroxide ) is applied to your teeth and a light is used to activate the paste that will whiten teeth. A Laser also can be used to activate whitening. An In-office bleach is a few hour long session.

On the other hand, your dentist will prepare a mould of your teeth. These are custom trays that are made after taking impressions of your mouth. Depending on the concentration of the whitening gel, it can be used for upto 8 hours in a day for 1 week or you can regularly apply the whitening gel for a specified period of time over 2-4 weeks.

Are tooth whitening strips safe?

Whitening strips are small pieces of flexible plastic, coated with a whitening gel that contains a peroxide ( either hydrogen peroxide or carbide peroxide ). Each stripe is moulded around a tooth which ensures that the peroxide gel is held against the tooth to lighten them. These strips have disadvantages like

  • Uneven whitening.
  • Can easily contact the soft tissues, thus damaging them.
  • The gel from the strips can cause pain if it enters a tooth cavity that is not addressed.