Teeth whitening, also known as tooth bleaching, is a popular dental procedure, especially in the field of cosmetic dentistry. White teeth are often considered an attractive feature of a smile. While a child's deciduous (baby) teeth are naturally whiter than the adult teeth that follow, the adult teeth tend to darken with age. This darkening occurs due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, making the enamel less porous. Additionally, teeth can become stained from various sources, including bacterial pigments, certain foods, and tobacco use.
White teeth are often associated with youth and are therefore highly desirable. Tooth bleaching is a process that uses oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to lighten the shade of the teeth. These oxidizing agents penetrate the porous enamel and oxidize the stain deposits within the enamel's crystal structure. Over time, the dentin layer beneath the enamel is also bleached. The effects of tooth bleaching typically last from 5 to 7 years, with variations based on factors such as smoking, and consumption of tea and coffee.
In most cases, the natural color of teeth falls within a range of light grayish-yellow shades. However, teeth naturally darken with age, and their appearance can be affected by surface stains acquired from using tobacco products and consuming certain foods and beverages.
It's important to note that the perception of tooth color can also be influenced by factors like skin tone and makeup. Regardless of the actual color of their teeth, individuals with darker skin tones or those who use dark makeup may appear to have brighter teeth.
Given the desire for a brighter smile, a wide range of "whitening" options are available to consumers. These products generally fall into two categories: surface whiteners and bleaches.
It's worth mentioning that claims related to tooth whitening are considered cosmetic in nature and must be accurate to avoid misleading the public. While some exaggeration is tolerated by regulators, the results of whitening treatments may not always meet consumers' initial expectations.