Cosmetic Dentistry: Understanding Teeth Whitening

29 October 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

The natural dental structure of human beings is rarely ideal with regard to aesthetics. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to consult a cosmetic dentist for assessment and subsequent enhancement. Generally, this field of dentistry is concerned with improving dental appearance in relation to shape, size, alignment and even colour. One of the important procedures in cosmetic dentistry is teeth whitening. This process involves restoring the teeth to their natural shade or making them brighter. Here is a brief description of the important elements of teeth whitening.

Causes of Discolouration

The discolouration of teeth can occur due to extrinsic and intrinsic stains. Extrinsic stains are the superficial stains that build up on the surface of the teeth, hiding the natural brilliance. Intrinsic stains are those that occur due to the staining of the internal structure of the teeth. The easiest stains to remove through teeth whitening methods are the extrinsic type. Generally, these stains are caused by plaque build-up and calculus. In simple terms, poor teeth cleaning habits allow accumulation of food deposits and bacteria which hardens, causing discolouration. In addition, these can be caused by ingestion of staining foods such as coffee, red wine, cola and tobacco. Common causes of intrinsic stains include fluorosis, tooth decay, dental trauma and early use of staining medication.


There are different methods that are ideal for dealing with extrinsic stains and discolouration. Ideally, you can choose to whiten your teeth at home or consult a cosmetic dentist. The latter option is the most suitable since the practitioner will create the best whitening plan depending on your dental health, sensitivity and desired results. In-office bleaching involves bleaching the teeth with peroxide compounds which decompose the layer of staining material.

Modern cosmetic dental clinics also offer laser teeth whitening which is more efficient and takes a shorter time. On the other hand, you can choose to whiten your teeth at home. If you choose this method, you should consider requesting for product recommendation from your dentist. You can use bleaching gels in trays, whitening toothpastes and rinses. You should note that intrinsic stains such as those caused by drugs cannot be bleached away. Instead, consider choosing dental veneers or bonding.

Potential Risks

It is important to understand potential risks of teeth whitening before undergoing the process. Hypersensitivity to extreme temperatures might be experienced due to excessive bleaching. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate the gums in sensitive individuals. In addition, you might get uneven results and enamel damage by using some unhealthy over-the-counter teeth whitening kits.