Your Excellency: How to Whiten Your Teeth Without Harm

A GREAT HOLLYWOOD SMILE IS LIKE TO MANY STILL, but keep in mind that teeth whitening is not always what it seems. It’s not so easy to figure it out: we are offered laser whitening, homemade strips, and even professional cleaning under the guise of whitening. In addition, there is an opinion that such manipulations will make the teeth sensitive and harm the enamel. It’s time to figure out what’s what.  

How to return “your” color

Sometimes professional teeth cleaning is mistakenly called whitening. Such “whitening” is easy to recognize – it costs about 1,500-5,000 rubles. For this amount, most often they offer to return their own, “native” color of the enamel, removing the plaque – but no more. With real whitening, the very structure of the enamel is affected and it is lightened by several tones due to the chemical destruction of the pigment. Be that as it may, if you decide on whitening, first of all, you need to go through occupational hygiene. You cannot whiten plaque-covered teeth – and, perhaps, when you see the natural color of truly clean teeth, you decide that you do not need to whiten. Professional hygiene has no contraindications – on the contrary, it is recommended to absolutely everyone once or twice a year. 

The Vita scale is the most common one used by dentists. It is used to determine the color of the teeth and select the shades of fillings or crowns, as well as compare the situation before and after whitening. The most common shade is A3. On the scale, it looks yellowish, but in life it looks natural. B1 and A1 colors are most often the result of chemical bleaching. It happens that a person comes with A4 teeth color and asks to whiten them, but after professional hygiene it turns out that the natural shade approaches A1 and there is no need to whiten them. 

The Truth About Whitening Pastes

Whitening pastes have a very high RDA – or abrasiveness index. So, they do not wash out the pigment from the inside of the enamel, but mechanically peel off the surface. If you are a coffee lover, this will help keep your teeth relatively light and even give the illusion of whitening – however, frequent use of these products can damage the enamel. Whitening pastes should not be used all the time, and contraindications include tooth sensitivity, erosion, and wedge-shaped defects.  

Whitening pastes may not be abrasive, but contain enzymes that destroy pigmented bacterial plaque – papain or bromelain, as well as substances that prevent the formation of plaque and tartar – polydone and pyrophosphates. But, like abrasive ones, toothpastes with enzymes will only remove plaque and restore the natural color of the enamel. Those who follow hygiene and do not overuse coffee or red wine , most likely will not notice the whitening effect . By the way, brushes with a whitening mode operate according to the same principle: they can remove plaque from the surface, but the pigment from the enamel cannot.   

How do professionals bleach?

In real bleaching, the pigment is destroyed under the influence of an active substance – it is always hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. It is contained in absolutely all professional whitening preparations, and any lamps or lasers are just ways to activate a solution or gel. The higher the concentration of peroxide, the higher the effectiveness with a shorter exposure. For example, home whitening strips contain 6-10% hydrogen peroxide, in-room whitening Zoom, which uses light activation, – 25%, and the Opalescence Boost system – 40%.   

How it happens: after isolation of the mucous membrane, so that the whitening agent does not get on it, the doctor applies it to the teeth, and the patient sits for 15–20 minutes under a lamp or without, depending on the method. The application is repeated two to three times, each time completely washing off the composition. The procedure lasts an average of one and a half to two hours, most of which you just need to sit and wait. Before starting, it is important to agree on conditioned signals – you will not be able to talk or turn your head. For example, you can raise your right hand to ask to collect saliva, or wave your left hand if you feel an intolerable tingling sensation. During the entire process, someone from the staff must be in the office. A slight tingling sensation is a variant of the norm, but severe pain cannot be tolerated; in this case, it is necessary to give a signal for the doctor to wash the composition off the teeth.

The cost of whitening in Moscow is on average 20-25 thousand rubles for a procedure with lamp activation. Contraindications include caries and enamel erosion, drug intolerance, pregnancy, age up to 18 years, some common diseases. There are also relative contraindications, for example, the presence of large fillings on the front teeth – they, unlike enamel, do not whiten, but they can be replaced with new ones. In case of hypersensitivity, the teeth must be prepared for whitening by saturating them with calcium and fluoride compounds.

What can be done at home

The most effective home method is the use of a professional solution provided by the dentist along with a custom mouthguard. It is necessary every day to squeeze out a certain dose of the solution into the mouthpiece and walk in it for some time – gradually, day after day, the result will appear. The concentration of the active substance is relatively low, but it is compensated by the long-term exposure. Contraindications to this kind of whitening are the same as to the office one, but it costs 10-15 thousand rubles, not counting the manufacture of a mouth guard.

Whitening with strips, crayons, rinses and everything else that can be bought without a prescription can also be attributed to homemade bleaching. Typically, the concentration of the bleaching agent will be very low (2–6%) – and the result is likely to be very poor. In general, the effectiveness of such systems is low, but no harm has been found , according to research . These devices can cost from one hundred rubles to a couple of hundred dollars , depending on the brand.  

The harm of bleaching

At first glance, it may seem that the higher and more effective the concentration, the more harmful. But this is not so: scientists have shown that in small concentrations, but with a longer exposure, hydrogen peroxide adversely affects the enamel surface. That is, home whitening is still somewhat more harmful than office whitening, where a high concentration is used, but for a very short time. 

Before whitening, especially if you have sensitive teeth, it is necessary to carry out preparation – remineralization . It will make the enamel resistant to acidic conditions – otherwise, bleaching can increase sensitivity or even provoke erosion of the enamel. When they say that whitening is dangerous, they mean it; but if you strengthen the enamel, then its structure will be strong, and the whitening agent will destroy only the pigment. To do this, the dentist applies a special composition with calcium and fluoride to the teeth and recommends similar home remedies. 

How long the effect will last depends on you. After the procedure, you must follow the “white diet”, that is, do not drink coffee, tea, red wine, do not eat red berries. The longer these rules are followed, the longer the effect lasts. Anyone who cannot imagine giving up coffee, but wants white teeth, can drink through a straw – or have veneers installed. Such ceramic plates replace the outer layer of the tooth and thus can correct their shape and color. The color of the veneer will not change under the influence of tea or coffee, the teeth will always be white and will not darken. This variant of “whitening” is the most radical and expensive – but it will not need to be repeated. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *