Tooth whitening; How does it work and are there any disadvantages to bleaching? - Braces R Us

(208) 737-0006

Twin Falls

(208) 788-0126

Hailey

(480) 668-8200

Mesa

Tooth whitening; How does it work and are there any disadvantages to bleaching?

Tooth whitening; How does it work and are there any disadvantages to bleaching?

Date: January 31, 2024
There is a lot of information out there about dental bleaching and tooth whitening. Let’s look at this interesting topic and try to get a better understanding of what it is, the options for bleaching and whitening, what it can and cannot do, and when it is indicated or contraindicated. It is important to understand that the natural tooth color can vary greatly from individual to individual, sort of like skin color but not as dramatically. Some people are blessed with naturally white teeth, while some of us suffer from a less cosmetic darker enamel color. Naturally whiter teeth will darken with time and age, and can get much darker when a person smokes, drinks coffee, or consumes foods, drinks, and condiments that promote staining.
First; what is dental bleaching or tooth whitening, and is there a difference between tooth whitening and dental bleaching? There is a significant difference between tooth whitening and bleaching. There are 2 (two) types of tooth discoloration and whitening addresses one while bleaching addresses the other. Teeth can change color and become darker due to either extrinsic staining or intrinsic staining or discoloration.
Extrinsic stains affect the surface of the tooth and are often associated with a pelical or coating on the surface of the tooth rather than being a superficial surface stain of the tooth itself. The tooth itself can discolor, but the enamel is so hard that it is relatively difficult to stain the tooth and it usually takes significant time and consistent staining to discolor the enamel. Regardless of whether or not the tooth surface itself is discolored, extrinsic staining is superficial and affects only the very surface of the tooth and the tooth itself maintains its natural color. If the staining is extrinsic, the tooth can be whitened by removing the superficial staining. This is called tooth whitening, and the internal, natural color of the tooth is not changed, but the superficial staining is removed allowing the natural, lighter color to show.
Superficial stains can be removed by cleaning the tooth surface. Sometimes this can be done with a toothbrush and whitening toothpaste, other times a more aggressive approach is required. Oftentimes, your dental hygienist can remove superficial stains when you get your teeth cleaned. If this is unsuccessful, there are other chemicals and mild abrasives that can be used to remove the superficial stains and restore the lighter natural tooth color. This is best done in your dentists office rather than over the counter because the abrasives may remove significant tooth structure if overdone and not managed properly.
Intrinsic stains or discolorations are embedded deeper in the tooth structure and are not able to be whitened with regular tooth whitening methods or superficial cleanings. They require a color change in the underlying tooth structure, and this is done by bleaching. The bleaching can be done from either the surface of the tooth or from within the tooth itself through the root canal. The bleaching chemicals change the color off the tooth itself and remove some of the natural tooth color.
An example of when internal bleaching would be done is when dental trauma causes the tooth color to change. With trauma, the blood vessels in the root canal can bleed into the inside of the tooth, essentially doing the same thing as a bruise which discolors the skin because of the bleeding underneath. The difference is that this bruise inside the tooth is difficult for the body to clean up and the small tubioles inside the tooth can fill with blood which the body is unable to remove, so it stains the tooth and turns it a dark color that may appear gray. In these cases, a superficial bleaching may not be as successful as desired.

Habit Appliances

There are a multitude of appliances that are designed to help break, control, or prevent habits that are detrimental to oral development and function. Appliances have been designed to encourage and support normal oral functional development from infancy through...

What do elastics do and why do I need to wear them?

Almost everyone gets to wear elastics at some point in their orthodontic treatment. Elastics are used for an extremely wide variety of reasons and they are one of the most versatile auxiliaries used in treatment. The main reason they are used is to adjust the bite....

Why do I get pokey wires and what should I do when I get one?

Pokey wires are not fun, and they seem to appear at the most inconvenient times. Although painful, they are usually not a true orthodontic emergency, and can be treated easily and quickly at home with a little orthodontic wax.Whenever a patient starts orthodontic...

What are traditional braces and what do they do?

One may ask “how did we get to where we are today?” when considering all the modern types and styles of braces. With all the advancements and changes that take place routinely in the field of orthodontics, braces have certainly changed over the past few years. There...

What is a motion appliance, and what does it do?

Dr. Luis Carriere is the inventor of the Carriere 3D motion appliance. At various times it has been referred to as a Carriere Appliance, Carriere 3D Appliance, Carriere Motion Appliance, 3D Motion Appliance or just a Motion Appliance. Most people refer to it as a...

Why do I need attachments with my aligners?

A number of years ago, as a new company, Invisalign completely changed the world of orthodontic treatment. The concept, and method of moving teeth sequentially was not new. This form of treatment had been used for decades, but it was woefully complicated and required...

Broken Brackets; What do I do?

Braces, or orthodontic brackets, are bonded to the surface of the teeth with a special composite that is biocompatible with the tooth structure. These special adhesives are strong enough to allow the braces to stay in place in the hostile environment of the mouth....

Space Maintainers

Space maintainers are an important preventive appliance that can have a lasting benefit when used appropriately. There are several varieties of space maintainers. Generally, they fall into two categories; fixed and removable. These categories are subdivided into...

Expanders

Expanders are a commonly used orthodontic appliance. All expanders widen the semi-circular arch the teeth form. This creates space to alleviate crowding, and also creates a fuller, more pleasing smile, enhancing the esthetics of the overall treatment result. Expansion...

4 Reasons to Choose an Orthodontists over a Dentist

There are many dentists out there that offer orthodontic services to their patients. However, they don’toffer the same expertise as our board-certified orthodontists at Braces R Us. While a dentist may focus onyour overall oral health, orthodontists focus solely on...