How do your teeth become stained?
Teeth discoloration is generally caused by stain causing beverages. These include coffee, red wine, tea and some other hard drinks. Use of tobacco, excessive fluoride and dark colored berries may also cause staining of teeth.
Why do you need dental bleaching?
Our tooth is the hardest calcified substance, which mechanically helps us to break food particles into minute ones so that they are easily digestible by the body. They aid in our appearance. Hence, having white stain free teeth is a joy.
The concept of dental bleaching or teeth whitening
Dental bleaching or teeth whitening is a process of removing the stains from our teeth and to reveal them as milky white. There are 2 types of teeth whitening, whiten and non-whiten. Dental plaque, betel chewing, tobacco tar, drinking dark color liquids like coffee, tea are some reasons why our teeth get stained. The mineral structure of the tooth becomes phosphate deficient. The enamel layer gradually thins and gets perforated. Hence tooth whitening is required.
The dentist removes the eccentric stains as well as intrinsic stains using hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide is available as bleaching strips, bleaching pen and as bleaching gel for tooth whitening. Laser tooth whitening technology is also used for this purpose. Increases in the sensitivity of the teeth, irritation in the gums are some of the side effects in teeth whitening process. This procedure of teeth whitening must be essentially done under medical supervision. This is not a one time job and may require more sittings with the doctor depending on the amount of stain in the teeth as well as the whiteners required.
Bleaching or teeth whitening is not recommended for the following people:
Is dental bleaching a requirement or just a craze?
Dental bleaching should not become a craze or mania because unhealthy obsession for extremely white teeth will lead to body dysmorphic disorder. This is a mental disorder in which a person cannot stop thinking about one or more perceived defects in his or her appearance.
Teeth whitening should be done only when necessary. People who have unrealistic expectations with:
The smile is the first thing we notice about a person, and more than anything else, it reveals the teeth first. We all yearn for that set of perfectly aligned teeth that are pearly white in color. However, this is not a reality in all people.
Due to various reasons, the teeth are not always bright and white. In some cases, the high fluoride content in the water can lead to fluorosis, which causes irregular patches on the teeth. Chewing tobacco and smoking are another reason for teeth discoloration, ranging from yellow to brown to black. The most inevitable of all reasons is ageing, where they naturally change to a darker shade of yellow. However, dental technology has also improved to come up with various solutions, so that the dream for that set of pearly whites can be made a reality.
Bleaching is by far the most commonly used method for teeth whitening. The tooth has an outer layer called enamel, a next layer called dentin, and a final inner layer called the pulp. The enamel contains organic particles that give the tooth its color, and the bleach material attacks these organic particles and thereby removes the stains.
It is always advisable to use tooth bleaching under the supervision of a dentist. A thorough examination and diagnosis is required before deciding on one of the two modes of bleaching.
In addition, for minor discolorations, there are other options as below:
Side effects: Sensitivity and gum irritation are the two common side effects of bleaching. This could be either from the chemical or the trays that are used. The need to repeat the treatment again is another shortcoming. Repeated visits to the dentist may be needed once or twice a year to maintain the pearly white smile!
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Every day, minerals are added to and lost from a tooth's enamel layer through two processes, demineralization and remineralization. Minerals are lost (demineralization) from a tooth's enamel layer when acids -- formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth -- attack the enamel. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are redeposited (remineralization) to the enamel layer from the foods and waters consumed. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer leads to tooth decay.
a)Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth.
b)It also reverses early decay.
c)In children under 6 years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth.
d) Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.
In What Forms Is Fluoride Available?
As mentioned, fluoride is found in foods and in water. It can also be directly applied to the teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Mouth rinses containing fluoride in lower strengths are available over-the-counter; stronger concentrations require a doctor's prescription.
We dentists, apply fluoride to the teeth as a gel, foam, or varnish. These treatments contain a much higher level of fluoride than the amount found in toothpastes and mouth rinses. Varnishes are painted on the teeth; foams are put into a mouth guard, which is applied to the teeth for one to four minutes; gels can be painted on or applied via a mouth guard.(as shown in figure)
When Is Fluoride Intake Most Critical?
It is certainly important for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride. This is the timeframe during which the primary and permanent teeth come in. However, adults benefit from fluoride, too. New research indicates that topical fluoride -- from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments -- are as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening developing teeth.
In addition, people with certain conditions may be at increased risk of tooth decay and would therefore benefit from additional fluoride treatment. They include people with:
Are There Risks Associated With Fluoride Use?
Fluoride is safe and effective when used as directed but can be hazardous at high doses (the "toxic" dosage level varies based on an individual's weight). For this reason, it's important for parents to carefully supervise their children's use of fluoride-containing products and to keep fluoride products out of reach of children, especially children under the age of 6.
In addition, excess fluoride can cause defects in the tooth's enamel that range from barely noticeable white specks or streaks to cosmetically objectionable brown discoloration. These defects are known as fluorosis and occur when the teeth are forming -- usually in children younger than 6 years. Fluorosis, when it occurs, is usually associated with naturally occurring fluoride, such as that found in well water. If you use well water and are uncertain about the mineral (especially fluoride) content, a water sample should be tested. Although tooth staining from fluorosis cannot be removed with normal hygiene, your dentist may be able to lighten or remove these stains with professional-strength abrasives or bleaches.
Keep in mind, however, that it's very difficult to reach hazardous levels given the low levels of fluoride in home-based fluoride-containing products. Nonetheless, if you do have concerns or questions about the amount of fluoride you or your child may be receiving, talk to your child's dentist, pediatrician, or family doctor.
A few useful reminders about fluoride include:
Fruits and vegetables which require continuous biting like apples, carrots and corn should be avoided as it can become quite difficult while the braces are on.