Every bride wants a big bright smile on her big day, but before jumping into the first whitening booth at the mall you should do your research. Tooth bleaching, commonly referred to as whitening, is the process of placing a gel on your teeth to restore their natural shade or whiten it even further to get a few shades lighter. There are several ways of doing this but before we think of whitening let’s consider an equally important and sometimes extremely effective procedure, and that’s cleaning and polishing.
Cleaning and polishing of teeth is the process of removing calcified deposits and stains on your teeth. This procedure should be done every 6 months to a year to maintain gum health, but if you haven’t been doing it regularly you shouldn’t worry, it’ll be just as effective in removing the superficial stains. If you’re lucky with stains only on the external surface of the tooth and your natural shade is light then this basic relatively inexpensive procedure will be enough. If not, then the next step would definitely be whitening.
There are two basic types of whitening; one can be done at the clinic (or recently at the mall) known as in-office bleaching and the other at home. In-office bleaching usually uses higher concentrations of bleach, that should be a good thing right? Not necessarily. The higher the concentration of bleach, the better the results with brighter shades but the more the sensitivity. But not all in-office bleach types are equal in their effect on the tooth, some types are less aggressive than others. The types activated by light, where the patient places the gel and a blue light is directed at it are more aggressive than types that are just put on the teeth for 20-30 minutes. As a rule of thumb, the more aggressive the procedure is, the more the sensitivity it results in, but the better the results are in terms of the color.
Moving on to the second type which is home bleaching, the patient is given a tray that fits their mouth covering all their teeth and a gel. Over a period ranging from days to weeks, they’re asked to put the gel inside the tray and place it in the mouth every single night. Of course, you can imagine that the concentration of bleach in this product is much less than the in-office one. However, the great thing about this type of whitening is that you can wake up every day and look at your teeth and decide whether or not you have reached the shade you want. I don’t need to tell you that you should be updating your dentist and going for visits if it’ll be over the span of weeks. The results are more discrete you might not get the whitest white shade, but the sensitivity is reduced. This procedure, unlike in-office bleaching, needs a very committed and determinant person who’d be really consistent to reach the best results.
Some dentists may combine both in-office and home bleaching for those who are dissatisfied with the results of each procedure alone. This is usually a decision taken based on your wish and tolerance level to sensitivity. Something you should know is that for at least a week after your bleaching procedure you should avoid any colored food or drinks to avoid staining your teeth.
Is tooth whitening for everyone?
No! Some people should definitely avoid the procedure:
1. If you have sensitive teeth.
2. If your gums bleed easily and are sensitive.
3. If you have cracks that are visible on your teeth.
4. If you have unattended-to cavities.
5. If you have acid reflux, which means your teeth may already be eroded from the acids that you sometimes can taste in your mouth.
6. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
7. If you have crowns, bridges or filling on your front teeth, whitening can be very tricky because if your restorations are a darker shade that matches your current teeth color it might not match it after whitening.
8. If your allergic to any of the ingredients used in whitening, it is always preferable to perform a patch test before you try whitening.
As for the prices of the different procedures, ranges vary greatly from one place. In dental clinics on average, cleaning and polishing ranges from 500 to 1000 EGP, chemical bleaching is around 4500 EGP and light bleaching 6500 EGP.
My advice to you is to always try cleaning and polishing your teeth first don’t jump right away to bleaching. Try bleaching a couple of weeks before your big day to get over the sensitivity. Lastly, if you really want to whiten your teeth but worried about the sensitivity try the at-home bleaching procedure first and if you’re not happy with the results, opt for the in-office one.