Tooth Whitening

Introduction

Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look. Most of the dentists perform tooth whitening.

Whitening is not a one-time procedure. It will need to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the brighter color.

What It's Used For

The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentin under it. Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentin to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel also affects the reflection of light and therefore the color.

Every day, a thin coating (pellicle) forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.

The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are:


EXTERNAL TEETH WHITENING

External teeth whitening procedures whiten teeth from the outside in. This is the most common form of whitening used and is generally for extrinsic and mild intrinsic stains. External teeth whitening options include in-office whitening, home whitening kits given by the dentist, over-the-counter whitening kits, and whitening toothpastes.


INTERNAL TEETH WHITENING

Unlike external whitening which brightens teeth from the outside in, internal whitening brightens teeth from the inside out. How do you whiten teeth from the inside out you may ask? Whitening the tooth internally involves drilling a hole to the pulp chamber, cleaning, sealing, and filling the root canal with a rubber-like substance, and placing a peroxide whitening gel into the pulp chamber so that the gel can work directly inside the tooth on the dentin layer. This procedure is typically reserved for a tooth that has had a history of trauma, leading to a single darker tooth.

Alternatives to Tooth Whitening

Simple ways to improve the appearance of discoloured teeth include:

  • brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste
  • stopping smoking
  • cutting down on food and drinks that can stain your teeth, such as tea, coffee and red wine
  • visiting your dentist regularly – he or she can scale and polish your teeth to remove any tartar that has built up

Whitening toothpastes are slightly abrasive, which may help to remove surface staining, but don't change the natural shade of your teeth. Experts are currently reviewing how effective whitening toothpastes are.