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Teeth Whitening - Effects of Whitening, Risk Factors and Treatment

Published on Mar 25, 2022   -  4 min read


Discoloration of teeth is a common problem encountered by many people, and teeth whitening treatment is the right solution. For ways to whiten your teeth, read the article given below.


Why Teeth Whitening?

Esthetics has gained much popularity in the modern era. People are concerned about their appearance, and the smile plays a pivotal role. Hence many cosmetic treatments are available for the oral area alone. One such treatment is teeth whitening. When the teeth are brighter, people tend to smile more often, and there is an enhanced level of confidence among those individuals. So the importance of teeth whitening is not just limited to improvement in appearance but also the overall enhancement of the individual in several aspects.

What Are the Reasons for the Discoloration of Teeth?

There are various reasons why discoloration of teeth happens. The reasons for the discoloration of teeth have been classified as intrinsic and extrinsic staining. Intrinsic staining, as the name suggests, refers to the staining within the teeth. It can be due to genetic factors, antibiotics, age, developmental disorders, orthodontic treatment, amalgam restorations, and high fluoride levels. Extrinsic stains are those stains present on the surface of teeth. It can be due to environmental factors like smoking, pigments in beverages and foods, etc.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

Any process that helps remove the stains of teeth and enhance the appearance is known as teeth whitening. The stains on the teeth are mainly due to compounds accumulated on the teeth. These compounds are known as chromogens. These chromogens may be organic compounds that have double bonds, or they can be metals.

There are various methods for teeth whitening, and the mechanism of action is different for each of them. Some involve physically removing the stains, whereas some include removing the stains chemically. There are various teeth whitening agents available for the chemical teeth whitening method. The physical removal of stains is done by a professional. A procedure called scaling is done. It includes the removal of stains using hand instruments or ultrasonic devices. However, the physical methods are not effective in the case of intrinsic stains.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

The chemical method used for tooth whitening is known as bleaching. The chemicals that aid in bleaching are known as bleaching agents. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most active ingredients in teeth whitening products. In the case of organic compounds, hydrogen peroxide mainly oxidizes the double bond. This gives the chromogen a lighter shade. But if the chromogens are metals, bleaching is quite difficult. Instead of whitening treatment, veneering or crowns are preferred in such cases.

What Are the Various Available Teeth Whitening Systems?

There are several teeth whitening systems available in the market. But the effectiveness can vary in individuals. It will depend upon the duration of usage and concentration of the bleaching agent used.

Some of the teeth whitening systems available are as follows:

1) Stain Removal Toothpaste:

They mainly help remove stains by the scrubbing action of abrasives present in them. They have a higher concentration of detergents, abrasives, and a small amount of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. They can only remove the stains and cannot change the color of the teeth.

2) Whitening Rinses:

These fall under the category of novel whitening products available in the market. They help in the oxidation of chromogens, thereby improving the teeth' color. They have hydrogen peroxide, which helps in the oxidation process. It is generally recommended to use twice a day rinsing for 60 seconds each.

3) Over-the-counter Whitening Strips and Gels:

Whitening strips are small plastic strips coated with a thin layer of hydrogen peroxide and are then placed on the buccal surfaces of teeth. Depending upon the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in various strips available in the market, the effectiveness will vary. Usually, regular usage for 10 days to 14 days is recommended. The results may last up to four months.

Whitening gels are applied directly to the teeth with a brush. The main constituent is hydrogen peroxide.

4) Tray-Based Teeth Whiteners:

In this method, a tray containing carbamide peroxide bleaching gel is placed in the mouth for two hours to four hours a day or overnight. It is available in dental offices or over the counter. It is also known as night-guard bleaching.

5) In-Office Whitening:

The in-office whitening techniques incorporate vital tooth bleaching and non-vital tooth bleaching. The vital tooth bleaching can also be done by the above discussed over-the-counter products or by night-guard bleaching.

The vital tooth refers to the healthy tooth in which the pulp is intact. In an in-office bleaching, higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are applied to the vital tooth under the supervision of a dentist. After applying hydrogen peroxide, it is activated using heat or light for around one hour in the dental office. In this method, a significant result is obtained after the first round of treatment. But may require more sittings for the optimum result.

The non-vital tooth is the tooth that has no pulp. The in-office bleaching of the non-vital tooth is done as an adjuvant after the root canal treatment of the affected tooth. Many non-vital bleaching techniques are available such as walking bleach, non-vital power bleaching, and inside or outside bleaching.

In the walking bleach technique, a mixture of sodium perborate with water is placed into the pulp of the affected tooth. In non-vital power bleaching, hydrogen peroxide gel is placed in the pulp chamber and activated by light or heat. The inside or outside bleaching technique combines home bleaching techniques with internal bleaching of non-vital teeth.

How Long Do the Effects of Whitening Treatment Last?

The effectiveness of treatment depends upon various factors. The treatment cannot guarantee long-lasting effects. If the individual is smoking or continues to drink or eat beverages or foods that can cause stain effects may not last long. It also depends upon the type of whitening system used.

What Are the Risks Associated With Teeth Whitening Treatments?

There are certain risks associated with the whitening treatments;

Who Should Not Take Whitening Treatments?

The whitening treatment is generally not recommended in the situations listed below:


Teeth whitening procedure is one of the cosmetic procedures that is gaining wide popularity nowadays. The treatment can provide significant results if done correctly. However, individuals planning to take this treatment should not have unrealistic expectations. The treatment results shall depend upon several underlying factors that your dentist can clarify.


Last reviewed at:
25 Mar 2022  -  4 min read




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