LASER Tooth whitening
Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look.
What It’s Used For
The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentin under it. Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentin to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel also affects the reflection of light and therefore the color.
Every day, a thin coating (pellicle) forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.
The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are:
- Using tobacco
- Drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, cola, tea and red wine
- Not taking good care of your teeth
Aging makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentin becomes darker.
It is also possible to have stains inside the tooth. These are called intrinsic stains. For example, intrinsic stains can be caused by exposure to too much fluoride as a child while teeth are developing. Other causes include tetracycline antibiotics. They can stain a child’s teeth if taken by a mother during the second half of pregnancy or by a child who is 8 years old or younger. Teeth are still developing during these years. Trauma may also darken a tooth.
Tooth whitening is most effective on surface (extrinsic) stains.
Whitening can be done in the dental office or at home. For in-office whitening, your dentist probably will photograph your teeth first. This step will help him or her to monitor the progress of the treatment. Your dentist also will examine your teeth and ask you questions to find out what caused the staining.
Next, the dentist or a dental hygienist will clean your teeth. This will remove the film of bacteria, food and other substances that build up on your teeth and contribute to the staining. Once this is done, the whitening procedure begins.
For whitening at home, your dentist can make trays to hold the whitening gel that fit your teeth precisely. Home whitening gel usually needs to be applied daily for two to three weeks.
How It’s Done
There are two main types of whitening procedures. Vital whitening is performed on teeth that have live nerves. Non-vital whitening is done on a tooth that has had root-canal treatment and no longer has a live nerve.
The most common type of vital tooth whitening uses a gel that is applied directly to the tooth surface. This product contains some form of hydrogen peroxide.
Tooth whitening can be done in the dentist’s office or at home. In-office whitening allows your dentist to use a more powerful whitening gel. A specialized light or laser activates the gel and allows bleaching to happen faster.
In-office whitening usually takes 30 to 90 minutes. You will need 1 to 3 appointments. The number will depend upon the method used, how severe your stains are and how white you want your teeth to be. Different types of stains respond differently to the treatment.
For in-home whitening, your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will make custom mouthpieces to fit you. The mouthpiece needs to fit well. A close fit helps the whitening agent remain in contact with your teeth.
At home, you will fill each mouthpiece with a whitening gel your dentist provides. You will wear the mouthpiece for several hours every day. Many people achieve the amount of whitening they want within a week or two. However, you may need to wear the mouthpiece for four weeks or longer.
Vital whitening may not improve the appearance of a tooth that has had root-canal treatment because the stain is coming from the inside of the tooth. If this is the case, your dentist will use a different procedure that whitens the tooth from the inside. He or she will place a whitening agent inside the tooth and put a temporary filling over it. The tooth will be left this way for several days. You may need this done only once, or it can be repeated until the tooth reaches the desired shade.
Laser Assisted Gum Depigmentation
Due to various reasons, deviation in our gums usual texture & colour is experienced. Some of factors that lead to de-pigmentation is the persistent use of medications. Irregularities like patches or spots on the gum may be noticed.
De-pigmentation is the removal of pigments/ colour-providing elements. De-pigmentation of gums has become one of the prominent fields in cosmetic dentistry.
De-pigmentation/ bleaching techniques are performed in many ways, out of which laser technique is the modern and much sought after method.
Laser beams, which have the property of selectively destructing the cell sites, can be highly advantageous. The cells that give colour to our gingiva are called melanocytes- cells that are responsible for melanin formation.
A powerful & focused laser beam targets the melanocytes, thereby decreasing the melanin formation in the base areas of teeth. Such a process can significantly contribute to a much uniform colour of the gums.
Laser Assisted Frenectomy
The suffix’-omy’ in medical contexts, is used to denote ‘surgical removal’. Frenectomy is therefore the surgical excision of frenum. Frenum is a portion of tissue that restricts/prevents the motion of a gland or organ. The piece of tissue is located in many parts of the body. Some of the commonly referred frenula are labial (lip) frenum, lingual (tongue) frenum and frenum in the genitalia.
Frenum can be attached between the 2 upper front teeth. Labial frenectomy is done for rectifying this condition. The frenum is nowadays removed using lasers. The laser treatment can thus help in correcting the speech impairments, improper tooth brushing due to a low frenum etc.
The advantages that one achieves by using laser for rectifying this problem, can also be applied to other leaser treatments. These advantages are as follows:
- The amount of bleeding is seen to be much less. High energy lasers are also found to facilitate clotting.
- Laser treatments avoid the use of stitches.
- The dosage of anesthesia required is significantly reduced.
- Faster healing time.
- The laser beam also sterilizes the area, thereby increasing the resistance to infections.
- Less damage to the neighboring tissues.
Laser Assisted Tongue-tie
A considerable number of people have large lingual frenum. The tongue movement is thereby restricted, seriously interfering with speech. Commonly referred to as tongue tie, the condition is medically known as ankyloglossia. Ankyloglossia is seen mainly as a birth disorder.
For its laser treatment, local anesthesia may be sufficient. The procedure consumes only about 10-15 minutes. The frenum that results in tongue tie is cut by a laser of sufficient energy. Before beam release, adequate protection to the other parts especially eye, is provided.
Laser assisted tongue-tie is beneficial to the neonates, older children. Adults are also observed to have similar success rate. For some children, a speech therapy may be administered to trigger the normal speech.
As in most laser surgeries, no invasions, no bleeding, less pain etc. characterize this procedure too.
Laser Assisted Crown Lengthening/”Gummy smile correction “
We observe certain persons being very conscious about their smile. One among the factors that causes an unattractive smile is the insufficient teeth portion compared to the gum area. This nature of smile is commonly known as ‘gummy smile’. Crown Lengthening is a reliable method to correct this condition.
Crowns are portions of the tooth that appear above the gum line. Crown lengthening is the surgical process that is used for exposing more area of the tooth. This is also generally done as a part of tooth restoration. The procedure is normally done by making an incision in the nearby tooth areas. The soft tissue is replaced and a certain portion of alveolar bone is also replaced.
Perhaps, there may be situations wherein the portion below the gum line is infected / damaged. In this case, the level of gum and the bone is adjusted suitably so as to give a more proper smile.
Crown lengthening procedures are normally done surgically. However, similar procedures using LASER can make the process a lot simpler and accurate. The rate of healing is relatively fast with not many complications post-operatively.
Cosmetic Smile Makeovers
The way one smiles has a direct impact on how others analyze him/her. The vibrancy of smile may get affected by a number of factors like tooth loss, discoloration, decay etc. These can be corrected by making use of a number of techniques. Some of these techniques are teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, white fillings, lumineers, gum contouring etc. Laser has revolutionized this area to an extent such that nowadays almost all the aforesaid methods are done using laser.
The first and the foremost step is a comprehensive assessment & evaluation of the oral conditions & the smile. The evaluation checks for conditions like tooth decay, misaligned bite etc. Perhaps, a restorative treatment may be done prior to the makeover.
A number of factors are considered before going for the makeover. Some of them are:
- Teeth form, length & colour: These happen to be the basic elements that are considered for an appropriate makeover.
- Contoured for look: Situations like gummy smile may need contouring. The teeth are actually ‘tailored’ to fit in appropriately.
- Tooth characterization: The set of teeth can be characterized to achieve a more masculine or feminine appearance.
After all, it is the result of treatment that is needed by everyone. The visual changes are can be seen using ‘before & after photos’, dental study models, dental bonding mockup etc.