Are whitening strips harmful to your teeth?

Teeth whitening strips

Teeth are an important part of our persona. In addition to chewing, teeth are crucial part of our face which in turn is a part of our total persona. When teeth are not white enough, it makes for less than a perfect smile. For aesthetic reasons, some people want their teeth to look whiter and brighter for a perfect smile. To get your teeth whitened there are many products that are available over the counter and these can be used at home with manufacturer’s instruction to make your teeth look a shade lighter and remove stains from the teeth which you may have acquired because of your lifestyle choices, or because of medicinal requirement.

What are teeth whitening strips?

Teeth whitening strips are basically teeth bleaching treatments, readily available over the counter. They are thin strips coated with a chemical solution. These strips are supposed to be kept on the teeth for a stipulated time depending on the concentration of the solution used, and then peeled off, which will result in whiter teeth. These strips can be used to lighten the stains which can be bleached are caused by the use of tobacco, red wine, coffee, or ageing.

How do whitening strips work?

The colour of the teeth varies among individual. Most people have various shades ranging from yellow to grey, but very rarely we have perfectly white teeth. But somehow people believe that teeth should be very white to look natural and beautiful.

The solution used on the strip consists of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide; which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when applied. Hydrogen peroxide, when comes into contact with water breaks down the stains on the surface of the teeth into very tiny pieces, thus dismantling the stain. The stain is dissipated and the teeth look whiter and shiny. The time required to dissipate the stain depends on the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide on the strip. Less time required if more concentrated solution is applied on the strip.

 Composition of Human tooth

The teeth have multiple layers, made up of hard tissues and soft tissues. Hard tissue includes enamel, dentin and cementum, whereas pulp consists of nerves, blood vessels, connective tissues that bind the tooth to the gums and roots. Enamel is the outer most, hardest part of the tooth, which keeps the tooth protected. The enamel gives teeth its colour which ranges from greyish, to yellowish and white. The colour of the enamel depends on the minerals therein. Dentin is the next layer of the tooth and adds to the bulk and structure. It is slightly impressionable, and is yellowish in colour. Cementum, a bone like substance, surrounds the root of the tooth and protects it. Pulp is innermost substance consisting of blood vessels and nerves and keeps the tooth alive.

Are the teeth whitening strips safe to use?

Since perfect smile is significant for happy social life, millions of people across the world use teeth whitening treatments, among which whitening strips are most common. Currently there are a few published researches which is throwing lights on the use of teeth whitening strips and whether it harms the teeth. Stockholm university funded a research study to find out the chemical effects of hydrogen peroxide on the tooth. The researcher, Kelly Keenan found that teeth do get affected by hydrogen peroxide and the structure of the tooth changes because of this effect.

Basically, hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. It is sometimes used a sanitizer and also as a hair colouring agent.  In teeth whitening strips it is used as a bleach which breaks down the stains on the teeth into minute particles which are washed away and are not visible after the treatment. The chemical has been found to affect the protein contained in middle and inner layer of the tooth. The hydrogen peroxide found in the strips that are available in pharmacies without prescriptions erodes the structure of the teeth they are applied on. The chemical in the strip can penetrate through the outer layer of enamel and get into dentine. As is known, dentine is made up of collagen; a protein composition. The collagen which is part of dentine becomes fragmented when it comes into contact with hydrogen peroxide which results in a lesser amount of collagen and therefore protein in the dentine layer.

If the hydrogen peroxide treatment continues and used frequently, then it can be said that it may result in diminished collagen protein affecting the health of teeth, because of fragmentation of the collagen into tiny bits and pieces which will be very harmful for health of teeth.

The health of the teeth will definitely suffer if the teeth whitening strips are used frequently, whether done at home or done by the dentist in his office. The amount of hydrogen peroxide used in each treatment also determines how much damage can be caused by the treatment. When the chemical is more concentrated, and in higher dose, it will affect the teeth more and will cause more damage.

The research done by Kelly Keenan showed the damage done to the dentine. But it is not conclusive about the effect it may have over a period of time. Teeth are alive, and dynamic. They continue to thrive and are kept healthy by the flow of oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels in the nerves. It is not yet determined whether the damage is reversible. Whether the lost collagen protein gets replenished after the treatment or it is permanently lost.

Many dentists feel that the teeth whitening strips are harmless, because they have been using the same for many years now and they do not recall any cases where they have found the teeth getting affected by the use of hydrogen peroxide treatment.

It is imperative to go deeper into the area and get many researches published to come to a conclusion about the ill effects of teeth whitening strips on the teeth and whether to restrict the use of teeth whitening strips being sold over the counter.

Does Teeth Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

Does Teeth Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

Teeth whitening is a simple non-invasive procedure that can turn your stained, or discoloured teeth in to pearly white. In this procedure no enamel is lost and the colour you get may last many months.

When do you need teeth whitening?

Teeth get discoloured due to many reasons. There are external as well as internal reasons for teeth discoloration. Because of individual differences in teeth colour, some people have very white teeth and some people have yellowish hue like how people vary in their eye colour or hair colour.

The colour of the teeth comes from the internal dental tissues and pulp which decides an individual’s teeth colour. Also, as we get advanced in age, our teeth colour changes to darker hue. The external factors that are responsible for staining and discolouring teeth include foods like tea, coffee, chocolate, candies and some fruits like black current. Smoking tobacco also discolours the teeth as well as red wine.

The hard calcium deposits called tartar on your teeth also discolours your teeth. Sometimes, medicines taken for any illness including antibiotics also affects the colour of the teeth. Many times, injuries in the mouth may have created very tiny cracks, which absorbs food colours and stains the teeth.

How is teeth whitening done?

There are two major ways of carrying our teeth whitening procedure. One method involves professional teeth whitening done in the dentist’s office, and other is done at home with or without the dentist’s supervision.

When the procedure is done in the dentist’s office, they will do preliminary testing to determine whether you are a suitable candidate. Before the start of the procedure, a shield will be used to protect your gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. A special tray like a mouth guard containing the teeth whitening product will be fitted onto your teeth and allowed to be there for a few minutes for the chemical reaction to take place. After the tray is removed, the teeth will become lighter in shade.

The effect of the product will vary from one individual to another, and the type of product used based on individual need. It may last from a few months to a few years, depending on how well you take care of oral hygiene and your life style including what foods you consume and the habit of smoking.

Can teeth whitening damage teeth?

Teeth sensitivity is one of the common side effects of teeth whitening, for some people, which may result in sensitivity to cold or hot foods.

Many people experience discomfort in the gums. Sometimes white patches can be noticed on the gums after the procedure. Sore throat is one of complaints heard after teeth whitening in some people. These are temporary effects and usually disappear in a few days.

When teeth whitening is done at home with the readily available over the counter kits, there can be more risks involved compared with teeth whitening done in the dentist’s office professionally.

The treatment done at home depends on the quality of the product that is being used. Many people opt for home kits because they are cheaper but the results may not be as effective as it should be.

The home kits are not always ascertained for safety, and may turn out to be harmful. They are more acidic and therefore a risk for your teeth and the gums. Teeth whitening needs care and patience to carry out because it is a complicated procedure. If any step goes wrong then it becomes damaging for teeth and gums. The rules and concerning the safety of the product varies according to the rules of the state and the country. The chemical used for whitening agent is peroxide and the amount of peroxide in the home kit is one of the decisive factors for the success of the procedure.

Sometimes products that are available over the counter contains mild abrasive substances which harms the teeth and may harm more than helps.

When you use products which are not safe or when you do not use the products correctly, then there are chances of getting your teeth damaged.

The most common occurrence while not using safe product or not using it properly is sensitivity in the teeth.

Tooth sensitivity results from not protecting the gums while applying the product on the teeth. Also, when the product is more acidic than needed, the base of the tooth gets irritated and tooth becomes sensitive to cold or hot foods.

More acid in the product also makes the teeth etched and that increases the possibility of the tooth getting more stained after the effect of whitening wears off.

The teeth whitening process requires the gums to be shielded from the chemicals in the home kit. If gums are not protected with a rubber sheet, it may receive tiny amount of chemicals which irritate them.

In some cases, teeth become more discoloured than before the whitening process was done.

Sometimes because of the faulty product, the teeth become weak and have more chances of getting fractured. Sometimes tooth enamel gets corroded and may make the teeth more discoloured than before.

Teeth whitening as such is not harmful to teeth. It does not damage the teeth. The best way to get the teeth whitening procedure done at home is to consult your dentist. Take his advice in what product to choose from the variety that is available over the counter. Also take his advice in how to carry out the procedure in the best way possible. Teeth whitening products usually have very clear instruction. Follow those carefully. If there is a need to repeat the procedure one or more times, then do it at proper intervals as instructed.

A complete overview of teeth whitening procedures

overview of teeth whitening procedures

Teeth whitening is basically colouring your teeth to make it look whiter than they naturally are, without disturbing the surface.

Who benefits from teeth whitening procedures?

It is important to have good healthy teeth which have not undergone restorative treatments to benefit from teeth whitening procedures.

. Like everything else, there are wide differences in teeth colours of people. Each individual is different and have teeth in a variety of shades of while. Also, as we age, the colour of teeth also changes to darker shades.

. Teeth get discoloured because of substance abuse. Smoking and alcohol have an adverse effect on the colour of teeth. Excessive use of tea and coffee can also stain the teeth.

. Tartar also make your teeth darker. Certain medications are known to colour your teeth.

. You can get your teeth whitened professionally or DIY.

Professional way of teeth whitening

Professional bleaching is a very popular method of teeth whitening. The whole procedure of visiting the dentist’s office and getting the preparation done by team will take around 4 weeks.

First your dentist and his team will assess the suitability of the treatment for you. Once the decision is taken about you getting the teeth whitened at the dentist’s clinic, the team takes over. A mouth guard is prepared for you by taking the measurement and image of your teeth for which you will need 3 visits to the clinic so that the team can take impression.

After the treatment starts you will have to do the treatment at home, by applying the product over a few weeks. For half an hour at a time.

A rubber shield or a gel is used to shield your gums from getting any of the teeth whitening product on them. A tray prepared with specific measurements of the patient’s teeth is fitted in your mouth which will act as a mouth guard. The product used to whiten your teeth has hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as an active ingredient. This chemical compound breaks down releasing oxygen which gets onto the dental enamel making it lighter in colour.

In-Office bleaching

The clinic-based teeth whitening treatment is also available for a quick result. In this treatment the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth and is kept on with laser or other heat treatment to get immediate results. The effect of the procedure can be seen in 30 to 60 minute period and can last for many months.

What are the different teeth whitening systems available?

There is a wide choice of products available in the market for teeth whitening.

They include toothpastes, gels, rinses, trays and strips that can be obtained either from the dentist or over the counter in pharmacies.

Whitening rinses

They work as normal mouth washes, which can make the mouth smell fresh and help prevent gum disease and plaque. In addition, they also contain hydrogen peroxide to whiten the teeth. It may take a year to see the teeth whitened because the rinses are in the mouth for only a minute which is very little time to for it to be in contact with the teeth and have an effect.

 Whitening Toothpastes

Toothpastes in general does a mild abrasive job on the teeth to remove plaque and food remnants stuck on the teeth. The teeth whitening toothpastes also have chemical agents which contain stain removing qualities and can provide gentle polishing of the teeth. These toothpastes can remove dental stains on the surface but cannot bleach. The degree to which these toothpastes are effective in whitening is only one shade lighter colour than the original.

Gel

The whitening gels which can be bought over the counter contain peroxide. These gels are to be applied on the teeth directly on the teeth with a brush which is supplied with the gel. The peroxide content in each brand of gel varies and instructions are provided with the product needs to be followed carefully. The results can be seen in a few days itself and the whitening effect will last for about 4 months.

Whitening strips

These are very thin strips coated with the chemical containing peroxide gel. They need to be applied carefully according to instructions provided. You must take care to cover all the area of the teeth because these chemicals can work only in direct contact with the surface of the teeth.

Teeth whitener in a tray

As the name suggests a mouth guard tray that needs to be filled with a solution or a gel containing peroxide. This mouth guard like tray is worn for the prescribed time like a few hours every day. Some brands require for it to be worn every night. The duration can be 4 weeks or more. The time required to wear the tray depends on how white you want your teeth to be.

How long does teeth whitening results last?

Teeth whitening effects cannot last forever. These treatments can get affected by coloured drinks like red wine, and tea and coffee in excess.

The effect of whiteness also cannot be the same on all individuals. The factors like level of stains, the bleaching process used and the bleaching agent used also affect the whitening level and longevity of the whiteness. Although the cost of professionally done teeth whitening is more, the result is very long lasting and effective in professionally done whitening process, because the dentist will supervise to make sure of the right process and material before embarking on the teeth whitening procedure.

Who should not opt for teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening procedure is not recommended for children under the age of 16 because they are still growing and the nerve in the pulp chamber is still enlarged. Teeth whitening at this stage may irritate the pulp and make it sensitive.

Teeth whitening is not advisable for pregnant and lactating women because of the complications it can create for the baby.

People with receding gums, gum diseases, cavities and exposed roots should not go for teeth whitening as these can cause deeper dental issues.

The people who have any kind of allergies are also advised to avoid teeth whitening procedures.