Tooth whitening is undoubtedly a sure method of acquiring brighter and more radiant smile. It removes teeth stains from certain foods and drinks, smoking, discolouration from the use of some antibiotics and it lightens the shades of teeth that may have become darker as a result of the natural ageing process.
Tooth whitening enhances the individual's self-confidence. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry's survey in 2012, most respondents admitted that whiter and brighter teeth are the attributes they would like to improve the most about their smile.
Teeth whitening can be applied in a dental office or at home, but in-office whitening is professionally supervised. It is safer and yields quicker results. In addition, in-office whitening makes it possible to utilise enhanced whitening techniques with demonstrable improvements in whitening outcomes.
Current formulations of chemical teeth whitening agents contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide which is broken down into hydrogen peroxide and urea by salivary enzymes. Hydrogen peroxide converts the coloured materials into non-coloured materials by oxidizing organic compounds in the dentin and enamel.
The bleaching gels are highly effective for teeth whitening but the issues of tooth sensitivity and soft tissue irritation remains. Ideal stain removing agents should induce no hard or soft tissue damage and should not result in pain if they are used repeatedly or on one-off basis.
Recent advances in dentistry have led to the development of aqueous cleaning technology which utilises low viscosity solvents that can penetrate the teeth easily and break down the molecular bonds within the stains. In contrast, bleaching agents commonly in use currently are high-viscosity formulae which may prevent some degree of penetration of the active ingredients.
Aqueous cleaning technology removes stains rapidly and hydrates the teeth as a result of its low surface tension and penetration ability. When used pre-procedurally, aqueous cleaning technology lowers sensitivity associated with tooth bleaching. The technology has therefore been recently introduced as a whitener and pre-treatment for whitening procedures.
The development of light activated whitening gels has enhanced the efficacy of same-day, in-office teeth whitening. By a process referred to as power whitening, the procedure is expedited by directing a beam of laser onto the teeth which have previously been coated by the whitening agent.
The laser beam activates a chemical contained in the whitening agent, accelerating the process, and a single application can lighten the shades of the teeth by as much as five to six times within one hour. This method is clearly preferred by patients who want immediate results, as it enables the use of higher concentrations of the whitening gels for shorter periods of time.