Professional Teeth whitening is a fulfilling and sought after dental procedure meant to improve the smile contrast with the other aesthetic facial features. It has been practiced even by the ancient egyptians, as a method of influencing the social interactions by communicating health, beauty and affluence. At first glance, even today it seems to be a rather aggressive procedure, making use of powerful oxygen releasing substances – peroxide. Many patients are expressing their concerns about it, also due to the rumor that is painful. Of course, the teeth whitening systems evolved quite a bit in the last fifteen years and they are perfectly safe. In my over 16 years of experience in using multiple bleaching systems (Laser, Blue Light, Trays, Strips…) both in USA and Germany,
… I noticed that pain is actually not a significant issue and the teeth are not damaged (on a contrary, they are strengthened) if a certain protocol is closely followed.
To better understand how bleaching works – physically and emotionally – we’ll look a bit at the facts of teeth coloring and white perception. The actual shade of a tooth is determined by combination of dentin color, enamel transparency and its mineral content. Dentin is more yellow, “shining” through enamel which is more transparent. Enamel can let the dentin color go through more or less depending on the mineral content and the distribution of such minerals. Teeth can also stained at the surface or from inside:
- Intrinsic stain (dentin stain) – such as tetracycline stain or fluorosis, caused by chemical/biological processes from inside of the tooth and they cannot be removed through external bleaching.
- Extrinsic stain (enamel stain) – such as those caused by coffee, wine, teas, smoking, etc. and they are located on the superficial layers of teeth.
Upon removing the extrinsic stains and changing the optical properties of enamel, light quality and quantity reflected back to the eye changes. Hence, the appearance of white is enhanced through more light getting reflected vs. refracted (light wavelength also incurs less phase change through reflection) – that is why matte white looks “whiter” than glossy white.
How is Teeth Whitening working?
The professional procedure involves powerful peroxide-based gels placed only on enamel. They remove all the surface stains through oxygenation and breake down the chromophores’ bond to large, dark molecules inside the enamel. Meanwhile, the superficial minerals are also extracted, giving the teeth a more opaque appearance. After bleaching, teeth are more susceptible to stains but with the Pure White protocol. This risk is almost completely eliminated through to a powerful and high quality remineralization. This is based on a research first initiated in Japan at the Showa University in Tokyo, where they found that In-Office bleaching is much more beneficial to the tooth structure than at-home bleaching due to a better remineralization pattern and consequent stronger enamel resistance against mouth acids.
What “speaks” against Teeth Whitening?
Caries, enamel cracks, excessive biofilm and tartar, periodontal disease with recessed gums – root surface exposure might give a lot of sensitivity if not properly covered. In other words, before attempting any type of bleaching, a thorough dental exam is necessary. For the best results and minimum sensitivity, the procedure type and the sequencing of teeth whitening with other dental procedures need to be individualized.
Which are the benefits of Teeth Whitening?
The most powerful effect is the contrast enhancement of the smile in relationship to the other facial features. Depending on the type of complexion, eyes color, white of the eyes, lip form, hair color, the newly bleached shade can be anywhere between very dominant (darker skin, dark eyes and hair) to nicely integrated with the face (fair skin, blue eyes, blonde hair). Bleaching provides a distinctively brighter smile which thereafter only with the Pure White protocol can be toned to a shade that fits best one’s aesthetic outlook. The emotional gain is immense and the social benefits are also not to be neglected.
In the same time, with the remineralization protocol the teeth gain a newly-infused high quality mineral layer, which makes them stronger against acidic foods or drinks.
In conclusion, tooth whitening is a safe and beneficial procedure as long as it is done with products chosen specifically for your needs and while the dentist is designing the appropriate protocol for bleaching, remineralization and shade maintenance/toning.
Dr.-medic stom., D.D.S. (USA)