All You Need to Know About Teeth Whitening

It happens only in award-winning photography – having a 100 watt beaming, radiant smile despite having nicotine and coffee stained teeth. Away from the photographic frame, people who have stained teeth or discolored teeth are most likely unwelcome and are often shamed. However, a visit to a nearby dental clinic can resolve this awkward blemish with dental cleaning.

Many people state that it becomes difficult to get that cushy job, or meet that special person to share life with, when one has teeth discoloration. In fact, it becomes a major hurdle when it comes to interact with people what with the stigma attached to it. One’s social life becomes a mess!

Honestly, onlookers might not be at fault as they obviously draw the conclusion that those discolored teeth are the result of negligence, bad habits, and poor personal hygiene. Teeth discoloration is certainly one dental problem that not only influences your personal health, but also leads to you becoming a pariah!

Let us find out what tooth discoloration is, why it is caused, and how one can get rid of it!

What is tooth discoloration and why do people get it?

Teeth discoloration is a condition in which the color of teeth changes due to presence of stains. A person can have stained teeth due to various reasons. A discolored set of teeth may look yellowish, brown, or even black depending upon the type of discoloration.

Types of tooth discoloration

  • Age-related tooth discoloration
  • Extrinsic tooth discoloration
  • Intrinsic tooth discoloration

Age-related tooth discoloration

It is quite common for older adults to have dental problems as a result of aging. Many people above the age of 50 years would have visited a dental clinic for some reasons or the other. Some of them might have had dental surgery as well. It is also very common for older adults to have discoloration of the teeth for various reasons. Discoloration occurs when the “dentin” turns yellow over a period of time. Reasons include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Foods
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Injuries to the teeth that damage the pulp leading to discoloration

Extrinsic tooth discoloration

Extrinsic discoloration of teeth occur when the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, is stained due to consumption of certain foods, smoking, chewing tobacco, coffee, soft drinks, and wine.

Intrinsic tooth discoloration

This type of tooth discoloration occurs when the inner layer of the tooth, the dentin, is damaged and it turns yellow or darkens. Causes for intrinsic discoloration of teeth are due to various factors like:

  • Having certain genetic conditions that lead to discoloration of teeth
  • Injury or trauma to the developing teeth
  • Injury or trauma of the permanent teeth and discoloration of teeth due to internal bleeding
  • Usage of certain antibiotics (tetracycline) during the second half of pregnancy or during early childhood (before 8 yrs.)
  • Exposure to fluoride in early childhood

How to get rid of tooth discoloration?

In almost all cases, discoloration of teeth can be treated in a dental clinic. It is a simple dental treatment that can be done at your nearest dental clinic or dental hospital. Discoloration of the teeth can be successfully treated by a dental doctor and home care after the treatment.

Using an abrasive bleaching agent is common for teeth whitening. People try sodium bicarbonate at home in order to remove the stains present on the enamel. Though this method is mildly effective, one should note that there are possible side effects to it. Damage to the enamel is quite common in this case. That is why it is better to opt for teeth whitening procedures at a dental clinic done by a dental specialist.

What is teeth whitening procedure?

Teeth whitening procedure is quite popular. It helps remove stains and regains your lost smile. Teeth whitening can be termed as bleaching treatment.

If you have yellow, stained teeth then teeth whitening procedure is the best way to get long lasting whiteness of the teeth with removal of stains.

Why teeth whitening?

The outermost and strongest layer of the tooth is enamel. Over time, the color of this enamel will change. The color changes may be due to

  • Normal aging and wearing
  • Fluorosis (mild)
  • Drug-induced stains
  • Extrinsic or surfaces stains due to tea, coffee, wine and smoking.

Teeth whitening treatment is non-invasive and can lighten tooth color. Although whitening treatments existed before, usage of underdeveloped procedures and products led to severe tooth sensitivity and some oral and dental problems.

Even when the dentist recommend, people used to forgo this process. However, modern teeth-whitening technology is extremely gentle and removes stains without harming the teeth. There are different methods of tooth whitening.

Methods of tooth whitening

Home whitening

It is a simple and cost effective procedure. The dentist will take the impressions of your teeth at the dental clinic. The technician then prepares a gum shield or a tray that exactly fit the teeth. Once the tray is prepared, the dentist will provide you the whitening gel and instructs you how to use it at home.

Although it is a convenient procedure, obtaining good results will take longer time. The time required for the color change varies from a few days to three weeks.

Chair side whitening treatment

This treatment provides immediate results under the supervision of a dental doctor. Laser light is used in this procedure. It takes almost an hour’s time to complete the procedure. Laser acts as a catalyst which enhances the bleaching process.

Steps in teeth whitening treatment


During the initial screening, dental specialists examine the teeth and surrounding gums. Then, presence of any decayed teeth, or gum recession is noted. If there is any significant gingival recession, then tooth whitening has to be done differently.

Pretreatment preparation

The next step in the procedure is to clean all teeth. The dentist will ensure that all the decayed teeth are treated and filled. Otherwise, the whitening gel will enter cavity and penetrate into the pulp cavity.


Any method of teeth whitening will result in mild sensitivity of the teeth. If you have already sensitive teeth, the dentist will advise you to take some medication prior to the treatment.

Whitening procedure

  1. The dentist will use a rubber or plastic guard to hold your mouth open.
  2. Then the dentist will apply a barrier on the gums to protect them from the whitening gel.
  3. When the gums are fully protected, whitening gel is applied with the help of a syringe over the front surface of teeth.
  4. The dentist now uses the pen style laser to activate the compound.
  5. When all the teeth are whitened by the laser, the gel is left for a few minutes and then cleaned.
  6. The dentist will repeat the process for as many as three times.
  7. By the end of session, the dentist thoroughly rinses the mouth and removes the protective barrier on the gums gently.

Follow up

You need schedule the follow up visits at the dental clinic as the teeth whitening treatment is not permanent. Its whitening effect lasts from a few months.

Who is not eligible for the treatment

  • When you are suffering from any gum disease
  • If you are under 16 years of age
  • If you are pregnant or lactating, it’s better to delay the treatment

Common side effects of the treatment

As such there are no side effects with modern teeth whitening methods. The most common side effect is mild sensitivity with cold food and beverages. Other side effects include sore throat, gum irritation and sometimes white patches on gums. These side effects will subside in a few days.

Post treatment guidelines to be followed

  • Immediately after the treatment, you should not take anything for two hours.
  • Do not smoke or sniff for a few days as it will stain the teeth.
  • Do not eat or drink any colored food like tea, coffee, red wine or other acidic beverages like cool drinks, carrot, beetroot, oranges, grapes etc.
  • Do not use any colored tooth pastes or mouthwashes.

Cost of teeth whitening

The cost of the whitening treatment depends on the method. Depending on the method the price may vary. There are a variety of options that costs from 10 k to 1.5 lakh (Indian Rupees).

Post-treatment guidelines should be followed strictly. If you want the whitening treatment to last longer, be prepared to follow the post-treatment guidelines strictly n order to get the best results.