What happens during teeth whitening
Bleaching: advantages and disadvantages from a dental point of view
What exactly happens when teeth are bleached, known as bleaching?
It's a chemical process. A bleaching agent is applied to the surface of the tooth. As a rule, low molecular weight peroxides, often hydrogen peroxide, penetrate the tooth enamel and dentin. Free radicals oxidize the discolored molecules to colorless molecules. The result is the desired whitening effect of the teeth.
When does teeth whitening make sense?
Whitening is a fad of our time. Flawless, dazzling white teeth represent beauty, success and a healthy body. The artificial whitening of the teeth can also help to remove or reduce tooth discoloration, which is of an endogenous nature, beyond pure cosmetics. Sometimes hyperfluorosis causes stains on the teeth - or local demineralization or remineralization processes. Crowns or veneers, so-called veneers, can sometimes be spared a patient by bleaching.
Which variant is the best for bleaching?
When it comes to teeth bleaching, the following applies: if you have a choice, you are spoiled for choice. As described above, the principle of bleaching is always the same, due to the effect of peroxides. Basically, there is a distinction between home bleaching, in which the patient works at home, and the chairside methods, which are carried out by the dentist in the practice. The simplest and cheapest variants are the lacquers or foils available in pharmacies and drugstores for home use with low-concentration peroxides. These products are quite suitable for trying out, but have some disadvantages from a dental point of view.
The foils are sometimes too short, are only sufficient for the front teeth and do not adapt well to the anatomical shape of the teeth, and interdental spaces are often not reached. The protection of the gums is also often not optimally guaranteed. Some whitening gels are only sold through dental practices. Often you need a custom-made splint for these gels. This is more expensive than the simple in-house methods - but if the splint is made carefully, the gums are spared and there is an even whitening. A higher concentration in the whitening gels and possible longer wearing times accelerate the whitening effect.
If dentists offer teeth whitening, how does it work?
From my point of view, this is probably the most efficient, but also the most cost-intensive method. Very highly concentrated materials are used in the dental practice. The whitening effect occurs immediately and the patient leaves the practice after about an hour with a bright, bright smile. With this treatment, the patient pays not only for the dentist's work but also for the materials himself.
What does that cost then?
Bleaching strips and corresponding varnishes from the trade, for example also from the pharmacy, start at around 30 euros, but can also cost 60 euros or a little more. A treatment with individual splints for both jaws then costs from around 400 euros upwards. Depending on the material, the time required and the region, the prices for a chairside treatment are between around 250 and 600 euros or sometimes even more. My urgent advice: Regardless of the bleaching method, a professional teeth cleaning should be carried out before each treatment. This creates additional costs, but these are essential for a good result.
What exactly should patients be aware of before whitening?
The fact is that fillings and dentures do not change their color during bleaching! This can lead to unsightly and not at all intended color effects. The exchange of fillings or tooth crowns with changed, adapted colors is possible in principle, but in such cases does not constitute benefits from the statutory health insurance, which can lead to considerable additional financial burdens.
My tip: Anyone planning a whitening - whether at home or by a professional - should seek advice from their dentist beforehand.
Are there any known side effects?
It is not uncommon for teeth whitening to temporarily cause hypersensitive teeth. In such cases, treatment should be interrupted. If there is no relief, the whitening should be stopped completely. If the gums accidentally come into contact with the bleaching material, this leads to temporary gum irritation.
How long does the result last?
That depends very much on the nutritional and luxury food habits of the user. Experience shows that the bleaching effect is between six and 24 months. Dentists recommend first a professional chairside treatment in the dental practice with subsequent "refreshments" with varnishes, gels or strips.
Mr. Schneider, thank you very much for the interview!
The interview was conducted by Mario Süßenguth
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