What is it?
By definition tooth whitening is a series of products and procedures whose physical, mechanical and/or chemical actions interact with dental structures, resulting in a greater degree of whiteness compared to the original colour.
Why do it?
As you already know, beverages, food, smoking and many other factors, often linked to more or less bad habits, tend to “yellow” teeth, increasingly distancing them from their original white and natural colour. Therefore a system to improve their appearance has become necessary: professional tooth whitening.
Who is it for?
Tooth whitening can be performed in almost all cases. A preliminary assessment with the specialist is necessary: the clinician will assess and recommend treatment on a case by case basis. Whitening products are only effective on intact natural teeth, which are healthy and free from fillings or prosthetic crowns.
How is it done?
Whitening, not to be confused with professional cleaning, whose purpose is the removal of tartar and extrinsic tooth stains, can be carried out at home or at the dental surgery. The most commonly used (and often most effective) technique is carried out at the dentist’s and involves the use of high concentration chemical whitening agents, further strengthened by specific lamps which enhance action deeper down.
The most widespread technique involves the application of a gel containing hydrogen peroxide 38-40%, or carbamide peroxide, which are activated when exposed to special light sources (led or laser for example), releasing oxygen. These whitening substances are directly applied onto teeth; the gums are protected with a liquid dam film. Once activated, this gas penetrates inside the tooth, operating through oxidation-reduction reactions which break down stain molecules into smaller, colourless compounds that are easy to eliminate. Some products, like those used at our centre, use the whitening molecule in combination with substances like potassium nitrate and fluoride, to obtain a stronger enamel, reduce sensitivity and prevent decay. Tooth whitening is carried out in one or preferably two sessions 24 hours apart, with an exposure time of around 15/30 minutes per session. The number of repetitions each session is based on initial tooth colour and desired result. After the session it is important you avoid smoking, eating or drinking anything that may cause staining.
Lasers are devices that emit not only radiation in the field of visible light, but also ultraviolet and infrared. These special devices generate a collimated bundle of photons, of the same wavelength and of easily manageable power. Based on the energy bundle emitted, powers they are capable of developing and different fitted accessories, numerous Laser devices are available on the market. In dentistry, Laser is used for many clinical operations, including tooth whitening: whitening substances applied to teeth and activated with laser light penetrate tissues deep down, resulting in more effective and longer lasting whitening compared to other techniques, without causing oxidative stress damage to enamel and pulp.
What must I do before?
Before undergoing a tooth whitening procedure, a thorough dental hygiene session and dental visit must be arranged.
How long does the result last for?
A lot depends on the patient’s habit, for example, if they are a heavy smoker then results will be less evident and last for less. The result can be evaluated as semi-permanent, but some fading is normal over time, which is why annual recalls are advised. It is important to remember that daily oral hygiene plays a fundamental role in maintaining achieved results.
Are there any side effects?
There are no side effects other than perhaps slight dentin sensitivity during and after whitening treatment, which can usually be prevented or attenuated by the presence of potassium nitrate contained in the product. Symptoms, which are not even present in all clinical cases, tend to progressively disappear in a matter of days after the application of whitening gel.
What results can be achieved?
The result cannot be standardised, however normally a much brighter white is achieved compared to the original colour.
The surgery Dental@Med in Foligno uses laser technology for the activation of whitening substances.