Why do teeth dull or turn yellow?
Different factors can act on the dulling or yellowing of the teeth.
- Genetics: natural coloring of the tooth registered in the genetic heritage,
- THE bad eating habits : high consumption of coffee, red wine, citrus fruits which attack the enamel and weaken it…
- THE tobacco,
- THE tartar : which corresponds to the calcification of dental plaque and becomes, over time, yellowish or greyish,
- I’age : as you age, the thickness of the enamel decreases and the dentin becomes darker,
- poor dental hygiene: insufficient brushing or bad gestures,
- certain drug treatments : especially taking tetracycline, an antibiotic that can leave dark gray or brown streaks on the teeth.
What is teeth whitening or bleaching?
If we speak commonly of dental whitening, the correct medical term is tooth whitening. “The natural tooth is not exactly white, but presents a mosaic of colors, transparency and opacity, around a “base color called ivory”, reminds Dr. Helali. And if the lightening modifies the saturation and the luminosity of the tooth, its shade and its degree of opacity remain unchanged.
The purpose of clarification is toremove the dyes located under the tooth enamelin order to make the teeth clearer.
Techniques: how to whiten teeth?
There are several ways to lighten teeth, whether in the office, at home with a custom-made tray made by the dentist, or at home with commercial whitening kits.
Dr Dr Helali Selim, dental surgeon: All chemical lightening treatments are the result of an oxidation-reduction chemical reaction between the coloring pigments present on the teeth and the bleaching molecule.
It’s probably the lightening technique the most practiced by the dentist. The latter takes impressions of the patient’s upper and lower jaws in order to make custom-made transparent flexible polyvinyl aligners. He also provides her with a lightening agent based on carbamide or hydrogen peroxide in the form of a whitening gel 10 or 16% concentrateto put in the gutter.
“When they return home, the patient wears their gutter for 1 hour and 45 minutes a day for several weeks until the desired lightening is obtained, under the supervision of the practitioner,” explains Dr. Helali.
Technique in the office
“This in-office technique has the advantage ofget results in just a few hoursbut she is more aggressive and less comfortable than the outpatient technique” emphasizes the dental surgeon.
The practitioner begins with a complete clinical examination with initial X-rays and photos. He then makes a descaling and polishing of the teeth, then sets up spacers and an insulating dam to protect the lips and mucous membranes from chemical burns. THE whitening gel applied directly to the patient’s teeth is indeed two to three times more concentrated in hydrogen peroxide than that provided on an outpatient basis. “Most often, the practitioner uses a lamp, which produces an intense blue light to accelerate the oxidation reaction”, specifies Dr. Helali.
The feeling for the patient can go from simple discomfort to real pain for some people. “The majority of people tolerate this technique well, but if this is not the case, the product is sucked up and the pain disappears instantly”, reassures the dental surgeon.
What about at-home teeth whitening kits?
Dental whitening kits and other whitening strips are multiplying on the Web or in drugstores. They usually consist of a hydrogen peroxide-based whitening gel, a single-use tray and sometimes an LED activation system.
These products contain a very low concentration of hydrogen peroxide (or carbamide), therefore below the toxicity thresholds, assuming that they are used with care and respecting the prescribed doses. “However, the user has no means of protecting his gums from the product, which risk being chemically burned if the contact is prolonged”, indicates Dr. Helali.
Moreover, who says low concentration also says less effective treatment.
“Finally, if these substances are safe on healthy teethin case of pathologies (decayloosening, dormant intraosseous lesion, etc.) there could be complications“, specifies the dental surgeon. There are indeed several formal contraindications to the practice of a clarificationt, which are not necessarily clearly indicated on these over-the-counter products.
For these different reasons, it is important to carry out these treatments under medical supervision. “The practitioner will look at the X-rays, check the condition of the teeth, identify any contraindications, and adapt the concentrations and techniques according to the patient”, concludes the specialist.
How long does in-office tooth whitening last?
The lightening treatment in the office lasts approximately 1h or 1h30. “The application of the product on the teeth is done per 15 min., to be repeated several times depending on the result desired by the patient. The treatment may require several sessions if the patient needs to gain several shades” indicates the specialist.
Are there any risks with teeth whitening?
Hydrogen peroxide used for teeth whitening is not harmful to healthy teeth but remains a very irritating substance for the gums and toxic if ingested in high concentration and quantity. For these reasons, French legislation has banned products in high concentrations (35%) as was the case a few years ago. The products authorized for professionals now contain a maximum of 10 to 16%, in order to limit the risks as much as possible.
At the present time, dental whitening practiced in a dental office by a serious practitioner presents little risk to the teeth.
Dr Helali: Be careful though, this is not a trivial practice, so you have to remain vigilant and ask your indication carefully because if whitening is performed in an abusive or uncontrolled manner, it can cause irreversible damage: dental hypersensitivity, alteration and enamel embrittlement, etc.
Price: what is the cost of teeth whitening at the dentist?
Dental whitening is a treatment whose prices are set freely by the practitioner and are therefore very variable. The price also depends on the method used, the degree of lightening desired and the number of sessions required. The range is between €600 and €1,500 in total, with a average price in France of 800 €.
This treatment, considered an aesthetic practice, is not not covered by Social Security.
How to whiten teeth naturally?
Baking sodasea salt, lemoncharcoal, essential oils… natural and teeth whitening tips and remedies abound on the web. But are they really effective? And if so, aren’t our precious enamel bad?
“There is no natural method that can truly lighten a tooth without harming the enamel. In ancient cultures, we used Miswak sticks, or we rubbed with lemon, or with bicarbonate: these different agents certainly whiten the teeth, but by abrading their external surface, and/or by irritating the gums – which become more red and give an impression of white teeth”, explains the dental surgeon.
The only active substance which makes it possible to lighten a tooth by penetrating the crystals of the enamel by oxidizing the substances responsible for the yellow tint, is hydrogen peroxide and its derivatives, which result from a chemical synthesis.
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