The sparkle in your smile

Has your smile lost its lustre? Perhaps, it’s time you opted for teeth whitening

Woman smiling

Our smile has a major stake in not just our public appearance but also how we feel about ourselves. The beauty of one’s smile is a direct showcase of the well-being and confidence within. A good smile can melt hearts, forge relationships and make us love ourselves even more. But how dazzling our smile is, depends on the condition of our teeth. The colour of one’s teeth is not just an element of beauty and aesthetics it is also an indicator of oral health. And it can seriously affect one’s smile. Thankfully, there are teeth whitening procedures that can help you bring back the sparkle in your smile.

What is teeth whitening?

Few have naturally white teeth. Naturally, teeth come in various shades from red, yellow, brown to even grey. When teeth further gain colour or get stained, they start become an eyesore. Teeth whitening is when you get the excess colouration or staining of teeth treated to get a brighter set of teeth. The aesthetic dentist works on the enamel of the teeth using different methods to make it whiter.

What causes staining/colouration?

Staining and deterioration of the dental texture can occur naturally or due to the habits one follows. One of the common causes is fluorosis—the presence of excessive fluoride during teeth formation. Heavy dose of antibiotic drugs is yet another common cause. Often, the bacteria present in human saliva too are the culprits. Age-related wear and tear of the outer tooth layer too leads to losing the lustre.

Why does one need teeth whitening?

Stained teeth look poorly cared for and don’t make a good impression. They also will make you conscious every time you smile, no matter how good looking you may be. Teeth whitening cleans your teeth, making your smile brighter. It is an instant confidence booster.

Can one not whiten teeth using natural ingredients?

You’ll find endless home-tips for whitening your teeth on the internet—a sap of lemon on your toothpaste, a strawberry or orange peel rubbed on your teeth, use of either salt or apple cider vinegar…the list is long. However, these are some of the older versions of teeth whitening and care. Although, effectiveness of these practices have never been disputed or argued upon, there are far better and faster ways to attain a whiter, brighter set of teeth in modern aesthetic dentistry.

How long does it take?

Most of the de-staining and brightening processes may require one or two sessions of treatment and cleaning unless it is too critical a case, which require advance procedures.

How good are over the counter teeth whiteners?

Which tooth whitening procedure should be adopted depends on the cause and degree of staining and colouring. It is therefore important to get the right diagnosis of the cause of staining before deciding upon a procedure.

Over the counter products help, but only to a certain extent and they are not applicable for all kinds of coloured/stained teeth. In addition to ascertaining a cause, dentists also take replacement of old fillings/crowns into consideration before they start a procedure. It’s therefore advisable to approach a trained aesthetic dentist to suggest the right treatment at the right time.

What are the different teeth whitening procedures?

Broadly, teeth whitening can be done in-house, at the comfort of your home with some simple consultation, and also in the clinic. Every procedure comes with its own pros and cons and what could be advantageous for one person could be disadvantageous for the other. A thorough interaction with your expert before deciding the procedure is what helps make the right choice.

An in-house treatment involves use of whitening agents prescribed by your aesthetic dentist in your home. It may include procedures like fitted trays containing peroxide that need to be worn for a specified time period every day. This kind of approach is generally advised to people who are in the initial stage of staining and proper diagnosis has been done and the cause understood.

The risk with such in-house treatments is that you may experience side effects. Although, they have shown positive results with many, you still need to take precautionary measures like performing it once with your practitioner around before trying it yourself.

In-clinic whitening treatments are those that are performed by the dentist under expert care and with the help of some state-of the art diagnostic and procedural equipments. One needs to finish the complete schedule of sessions with the practitioner to expect the intended positive results. One has the advantage of total expert care during the procedure and any amendment in the approach depending on the reaction of the dental structure can be made about easily.

Advance bleaching can be done using various methods that brighten your teeth in less than an hour. Customised porcelain veneers is another option you can choose for longer lasting results. Besides, you also can select between many shades of white. This choice is suggested for those with severe staining.

However, laser teeth whitening remains the fastest way to whiten your teeth. It is also one of the most reliable methods. It works best for those who have stained teeth due to smoking or frequent drinking of coffee or tea. It is also a sure-shot cure for the stubborn yellowish teeth.

How long do the results last?

None of the teeth whitening methods are permanent. Results last from a few months to a year, after which you might need a touch up or repeat procedure. If you are vigilant enough and prevent staining your teeth by staying in regular consultation with your aesthetic dentist maintaining the whiteness isn’t an issue.

Are there any side-effects?

Some people may experience a few side-effects with procedures like bleaching such as sore gums or sensitive teeth. However, these disappear after a few days. Further, wearing a tray can sometimes make the mouth dry in some people. This too normalises on its own. But in case it doesn’t, it’s not a big problem and often your dentist will be able to take care of it with a few adjustments.

This was first published in the May 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Ekta Chadha
Dr Ekta Chadha is a consultant aesthetic dental surgeon. She is associated with the Smile Studio in New Delhi, where she also runs a state-of-the-art dental laboratory, Dent Art.


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