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Teeth whitening – Options, risks and results

Professional teeth whitening allows you to whiten your teeth by several shades. What should you look out for when whitening your teeth?

Reading time: 4min

Topic: whitening

Tooth whitening: bestsmile

Why should I whiten my teeth?

For many people, a perfect smile means not only having straight teeth, but also white teeth. However, teeth are almost never perfectly white by nature and there are several factors that influence the colour of your teeth. A professional teeth whitening can remove disturbing pigments and thus make teeth significantly whiter.

Why do teeth discolour?

There are several reasons why teeth discolour. On the one hand, the natural tooth colour may seem yellowish and has nothing to do with oral hygiene. On the other hand, external factors may affect the colour of the teeth. The shade and pigments of the tooth are often genetically determined.

Generally speaking, there are 2 types of tooth discolouration:

1. Internal tooth discolouration

This is caused by the penetration of staining substances. These include medications such as antibiotics. Accidents and dental injuries can cause discolouration due to bleeding or death of the dental pulp. In addition, as we age, the enamel wears away, causing the yellowish dentine to shimmer through the enamel.

2. External tooth discolouration

This occurs when dental plaque is discoloured by food and stimulants. This happens, for example, when drinking fruit juices, coffee, black tea, red wine or through exposure to tobacco smoke. If this plaque is not removed regularly through thorough oral hygiene, tartar can develop, which can also promote tooth discolouration or bad breath. Since in this case the discolouration is mainly on the surface of the teeth, it can easily be removed with a professional tooth cleaning*.

How are teeth whitened?

There are several different teeth whitening methods, but they all have in common the use of hydrogen peroxide. The bleaching agent (H2O2) penetrates into the tooth where it splits off oxygen radicals (atoms or molecules with at least one unpaired electron). These molecules can change dyes so that they are no longer recognisable and thus whiten the teeth.

Home bleaching

In order for patients to whiten their teeth at home, they need custom-made plastic aligners, which are made with a dental impression or with a 3D scan. Patients can fill the bleaching gel into their individual aligners and place them onto their teeth. Depending on the strength of the bleaching agent, the patient needs to wear the aligners for 1–8 hours. With the home bleaching it is possible to whiten the entire dental arch.

Caution: If attachments are applied during Aligner treatment, it is necessary to wait until these get removed before whitening your teeth.

Power bleaching / In-office bleaching

This type of teeth whitening is performed directly in the dental practice. Power bleaching is more effective in terms of short-term results and intensity, but is only suitable for the 6 visible front teeth. These are covered with a bleaching agent, which should be left on the teeth for 15–45 minutes. The more intensive effect of bleaching agents claimed by various suppliers when used with special lamps or laser light has not yet been scientifically proven. The gums are protected from the strong bleaching agent with a rubber-like coating. Unlike home bleaching, power bleaching can be applied to individual teeth.

Potential risks of teeth whitening

Immediately after the whitening procedure, the teeth may be hypersensitive. The teeth dry out due to the whitening, which leads to increased pain sensation. After about 24 hours, the saliva has soaked the teeth again and the pain usually goes away. Many bleaching gels however contain ingredients that counteract this hypersensitivity.

Who should generally avoid teeth whitening?

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Children
  • People with diseased gums and teeth

A thorough dental check-up is recommended before teeth whitening. We also highly advise to have a professional tooth cleaning before whitening your teeth in order to remove all plaque and debris and to always consult a dentist to avoid damaging your teeth and gums.

Can fillings, crowns, bridges and veneers be whitened?

The colour of fillings, crowns, bridges and veneers cannot be changed by whitening. The desired result may not be achieved if fillings, crowns or bridges are in the visible area of the dental arch.

teeth whitening before-after
teeth whitening before-after

Teeth straightening + whitening at bestsmile

Patients who opt for the Aligner treatment of both jaws get a home bleaching free of charge. This way, your teeth will not only be straight, but also wonderfully white at the end of your treatment. Teeth whitening does not require any separate dental Aligners, as we already use custom-made clear Aligners for our treatment. The perfect solution to get beautiful and white teeth for your wedding.

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Last update: 17.03.2023


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