Teeth whitening is gaining in popularity because people realise that they look a lot nicer with teeth that are white, as against stained or yellowish teeth. We all want to look attractive and having whiter teeth is one way to do it. However, it is a good idea to find out all you can about your teeth and the methods of whitening that are on the market.
Without this information, you can actually damage your teeth and gums quite badly without even improving the colour.
- Firstly, there are two kinds of discoloration in teeth. Natural aging which is where the dentin – not the enamel – goes darker. Since the body renews itself in many ways as we age, so new dentin forms, but it is darker than the previous dentin and makes the teeth look more yellow because the enamel is thinner than it used to be and the colour of the dentin can be seen through it.
- Most people don’t realise the products containing bleach or peroxide used to whiten the teeth work on the dentin, not the enamel. The product soaks in through the enamel to cause a whitening effect that shines out through the enamel. This is referred to as intrinsic discolouration and whitening. Dentin cannot be whitened through using whitening toothpaste or by the cleaning of a dental hygienist.
- Extrinsic whitening is when you remove the stain that is on the enamel of the teeth. This can be done, not through bleaching, but through a clean by a dental hygienist or by cleaning with whitening toothpaste – which should only ever be done once a week. Certainly not every day or you’ll wear out the enamel and as it thins, it will become more yellow looking due to the dentin showing through it.
- It is also important to know that neither type of whitening will last forever. Dentin keeps aging and enamel gets thinner and well as getting stained from what you eat and drink. If you use the wrong cleaning technique for your problem, it won’t work at all and you’ll have wasted your money.
- Whitening with bleaches, especially where you use a tray that is not a custom fit, can seriously damage the soft gum tissue and make your teeth very sensitive. If you accidentally swallow some of the whitening gel, you can become nauseous and may vomit.
- Teeth are living tissue, unlike hair and nails that can be cut off without pain. If you damage your teeth by over using the product, you may have to have them out. Even whitening at the dentist can damage teeth, especially when a light is used to accelerate the effect, which can cause premature aging of the tooth.