“To Bleach or Not to Bleach, That is the Question“
This is not the famous line in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, that says “To be or not to be, that is the question”, although time and again, it is one of the common inner arguments that one must go through when they are looking at a grocery shelf full of toothpastes and all sorts of whitening products in the market today. Each and every one of those products would be shouting “Buy me!” at you. The easiest way to resolve this issue is to talk to a dental health professional. Yes, your dentist knows best. An expert on this subject, your dentist will be able to decide what really does work for your teeth, because it is not just about the right product to use, but also the root cause of why your teeth have the shade that you see in the mirror every morning.
Whiter teeth are likely to be related to youthfulness, because children have lighter and whiter teeth, and people who have seen decades and longer seasons, have darker, more yellowish hue to their teeth. This explains why tooth bleaching is one of the most popular procedures in the practice of General Dentistry. Whiter teeth make you look younger. Also, these days, everyone loves taking ‘selfies’, which takes smiling on photos all the way to the next level.
So, what is tooth bleaching? Read further and find some answers.
Tooth bleaching, in general, is a procedure to lighten or whiten the teeth through the use of chemical agents; preparations that may be available commercially, or exclusively, to dentists. Some may seem to be as simple as just using a particular brand of toothpaste regularly, but still, most require a more professional procedure. Bleaching gels, bleaching strips, bleaching pens, and light-triggered bleaching may also be used. The main ingredient in common bleaching agents is hydrogen peroxide; a proven effective lightening and whitening compound, not just for teeth, but for hairs, as well.
Causes of Tooth Discoloration
You may have the notion that teeth become whiter by simply using whitening toothpastes. This may be true, and this may also be false. Knowing the root cause of the discoloration is important, because some sources of discoloration may be deeper than just your enamel, which is the top coat of your teeth.
- The primary source of tooth discoloration is your diet. What you eat may play a big role in the color of your teeth. Coffee, dark soda, tea, red wine, and other dark-colored drinks and food, when taken on a regular basis can be absorbed by the enamel, making your teeth brownish to yellowish in color. Commonly, these are superficial discolorations that commercial preparations can remove easily. Still, there is a factor of how the teeth respond to the regular use. Coffee stains on teeth may or may not require a good oral prophylaxis that is done by a dental hygienist. Tooth restorations or fillings also absorb color. Smoking also creates superficial discoloration due to the nicotine deposits that could stay stubbornly on the lingual area, the side of the teeth that your tongue touches. Again, in cases like these, it is best to consult your dentist.
- Deeper down, tooth discoloration can also be caused by events that have happened in your past. High and toxic levels of fluoride intake can lead to a chalky, less healthy-looking, dull white discoloration of the teeth. Trauma or a blow to the teeth that could result to bleeding within the tooth structure could result to a greenish, brownish or grayish hue. A tooth can also lose its natural color after undergoing Root Canal Therapy because the normal blood supply of the pulp, the innermost portion of the tooth, is not there anymore. Tetracycline antibiotics that you may have taken before you were eight years old, or that which your pregnant mom may have taken when you were half-way growing in her womb, could also create a brownish discoloration. These are discolorations that require an oral health care professional’s expertise.
- Further on, as mentioned above, age becomes a factor. As you age, the enamel, which is the whiter surface of your teeth, gets thinner through continuous friction and exposure to the acids in your mouth. Since the dentin is the next deeper layer and it is yellowish in color, you will see a more yellowish tooth from outside. Relatively, the food that aged people eat plays a factor in yellowish teeth later in life. Light-cured veneer is an option to fix this discoloration.
- Current tooth conditions can also change its color. Carious lesions or decays that are undetected will show through as darker hue. No amount of whitening bleaches can fix this issue. Fortunately, restorative procedures are also available to remove the unsightly dark, inner areas of the tooth that is causing the discoloration.
The Best and “Not So” Best Approach
“Your dentist knows best” cannot be reiterated enough. Knowing now that there are so many factors that cause discoloration, and knowing now that most commercial brands only treat superficial discoloration, visiting your dentist is definitely the best decision you can ever make. They know the best approaches, and it will also save you the time and money experimenting with products that may or may not work. Your dentist will also recommend the best products that are safe to use to maintain the already bleached teeth.
As for some unsure approaches, there are whitening kits that require professional knowledge, because some strong chemical compounds, such as gel bleaching could create chemical burns. It does whiten your teeth, but it can also whiten, or discolor the soft tissues; these are your gums and other soft parts of your mouth, like the inner cheek. Moreover, there are whitening kits that could be very abrasive; leaving your teeth sensitive after prolonged use. This leads you to a secondary issue that could lead to a dental visit anyway, because as always, your dentist is the one who knows accurately what to do to fix it. They are perfectly capable of providing the best treatment required to get rid of your tooth sensitivity, as well.
Your dentist knows best, and he knows that your smile means a lot; it opens new doors to new opportunities and new people. So, at this point, you already have the answer. It is not a question of “To bleach, or not to bleach?” after all. It is who you choose to bleach it. Enjoy your brighter, lighter, whiter trip to your dentist!