Whitening agents are dental aids that restore the color of your teeth.
They remove stains by breaking the chemical bonds that hold the stains onto your enamel.
Generally, whitening agents contain peroxides such as hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.
Both of these peroxides contain volatile oxygen molecules that are responsible for bleaching the stains in your tooth enamel.
Apart from the peroxides, some agents also contain fluoride.
This inorganic compound is a teeth whitener, and, at the same time, prevents the weakening of your teeth during the whitening process.
According to a clinical review from Sweden, fluoride minimizes the risk of tooth sensitivity. Remember, when you undergo a teeth whitening treatment, your gums and teeth become sensitive.
Reasons to Undergo Teeth Whitening
Aside from the “want” to improve color or for aesthetics, there are many reasons why patients undergo teeth whitening treatments and some of these will be discussed in this section.
1) Food choices
One of the main reasons why patients need to whiten their teeth is because of the discoloration caused by the food they eat.
According to the American Dental Association, coffee, tea, and red wine are the major baddies.
Lifestyle also plays a big role when it comes to teeth appearance.
For example, tobacco users may acquire yellowish teeth because of the tar and nicotine content of tobacco.
These chemicals are colorless, but, when combined with oxygen, they turn yellow.
Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and below it is a soft substance called dentin. As you age, this dentin becomes thinner and yellowish.
4) Trauma and injury
When your tooth becomes injured, it tends to darken. This is how your enamel and dentin react to the trauma.
Medications such as antihistamines, antihypertensives, and antipsychotics can affect the color of your teeth. Some chemotherapy agents and radiation can also darken teeth.
Different Teeth Whitening Products
For those who want to whiten their teeth, or for patients with braces who wish to undergo whitening treatments, there are many options available. Some of these will be discussed in this section.
1) Stain removal toothpaste
A stain removal toothpaste works by removing surface stains by brushing your teeth.
However, patients with braces may not appreciate this treatment option as the chemicals do not go behind your braces.
Understand that stain-removal toothpaste does not whiten teeth or beach teeth. Instead, it removes stains to improve the appearance of your teeth.
If you wish to use this option, make sure to buy products with the ADA seal of acceptance.
You can check this seal usually at the product’s label.
2) In-office bleaching
This treatment option is done in a dental clinic. Before your bleaching procedure, a dentist will apply a protective gel to your gums to reduce sensitivity.
Many patients with braces can undergo this treatment as their brackets will have to be removed before the procedure to give way for the even color of teeth.
3) At-home bleaching
At-home bleaching allows you to use bleaching solutions given by your dentist.
Although this treatment option allows you to whiten your teeth in the comfort of your home, this process is long and may take up to a few weeks to work.
For those with braces, a dentist will determine if at-home bleaching is suitable for you.
4) Over-the-counter bleaching products
Over-the-counter bleaching products are those that you can buy at pharmacies or supermarkets.
The most popular OTC bleaching products are whitening strips and they have lesser bleaching concentration compared to when you see a dentist for a whitening treatment.
If you wish to buy these, again, you should make sure that the product contains the ADA seal of acceptance.
Unfortunately, for those with braces, only the color of the exposed tooth parts can be improved by these over-the-counter bleaching products.
Whitening Teeth While Wearing Braces
Now, the main question is, can teeth whiteners work while wearing braces?
Generally, whitening agents cannot whiten the part of your tooth under your brackets.
This is the same for stain-removal products. They cannot remove the stains under those metal devices.
If you whiten your teeth while you are wearing braces, the tendency is that you will get an uneven overall color of your teeth.
Aside from cosmetic and aesthetic issues, the use of teeth whiteners can increase your gum sensitivity.
It can irritate your gums, thus, may prolong the length of time you need to wear braces.
If you want to whiten your teeth while wearing braces, the best option is to consult your dentist.
As said, whitening products are effective and safe but not for those parts behind your brackets.
It is highly recommended to whiten your teeth after wearing braces to avoid uneven color. Other tips before you use whitening agents after your braces include the following:
Ask a dentist about the best treatment option for you. If you wish to use OTC teeth whiteners, a dentist can recommend the most suitable one for your teeth condition.
There are two types of stains and these are extrinsic stains and intrinsic stains. The former comes from your food choices and lifestyle while the latter comes from your dentin. If you have intrinsic stains, teeth whitening agents may not work for you.
Address teeth and gum sensitivity before using any teeth whitening products to avoid irritation.
Understand that braces can also stain your teeth. For better removal of these stains, in-office stain removal and bleaching procedure is highly recommended.
Indeed, the use of braces can help you improve your smile and confidence.
People wearing these corrective devices may also wonder if teeth whiteners would work on them.
Unfortunately, not all teeth whitening options would work.
If you are wearing braces and you wish to enhance the color of your teeth, consulting a dentist is the most recommended choice.
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