Dentistry is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity (mouth with all structures within including teeth, gums, tongue, etc.). As per World Health Organization (WHO), it is appropriately defined as the ‘art and science’ of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth. It is really an art as well as science which makes smiles better while also treating many diseases.
A dentist is a medical professional who aims to improve the quality of lives by preventing and treating oral diseases and conditions. The dentist's supporting team is also very important, and it aids in providing oral health services and also handling many procedures apart from assisting the dentist. It includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.
The dentists achieve the above by:
- Promoting good oral health practices and educating people about them
- Patient education
- Diagnosing dental diseases and conditions including dental decay, gum diseases, etc.
- They may also diagnose some general conditions by just looking at oral cavity, because some diseases and conditions have oral manifestations
- Providing preventive dental and oral care, like restoring slightly decayed teeth, covering them with thin layer of restorative materials, providing treatments to prevent further problems by cleaning, scaling, root planning, application of fluoride, etc.
- Prescribing appropriate medicines to treat some oral diseases, to prevent or allay infections, and for all three prophylactic, preventive and promotive purposes
- Treating and restoring decayed teeth by appropriate materials
- Replacing lost teeth by implants, dentures, partial dentures, etc.
- Treating other conditions of mouth, related structures and even jaw
- Also undertaking some surgical procedures, most common of them being tooth extraction
- Providing orthodontic treatment to adjust and correct mal-aligned teeth
- And many other functions as per further specialization.
Tooth Whitening Process or Bleaching
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Some years ago, a new form of peroxide was developed called Carbamide peroxide. It is most often used in the form of a gel, placed into a special tray that is custom–fitted to your teeth, and worn in the mouth for anywhere from one to four hours a day. When in contact with the teeth, the carbamide peroxide releases oxygen, and that is what releases the stain on your teeth. This safe and gentle process has proven to be very effective.
Teeth tend to change shades, usually yellow, with age. This and other stains can be eliminated with the whitening processes. Whitening may not change the color of existing fillings, so whitening combined with tooth bonding is a popular choice. When the whitening is completed, new tooth–colored fillings are placed to match the whitened teeth.
At home, bleaching methods do work, but more slowly so you need a little patience. Some people start to see results in just a few days, but normal treatment time is anywhere from three to six weeks. Darker stains may require a longer treatment time. Each person is different and results will vary according to stain type, how deep the stains are imbedded into the tooth, and your particular tooth structure.
Carbamide peroxide of 10% to 22% is used in a custom–fitted tray. The tray is worn twice a day for one hour or once a day for two to three hours, depending on the particular system being used. This system is more cost–effective than the following techniques because the bleaching is not done in the dental office.
Custom–made, mouth–formed and ready–made trays are professionally designed by your dentist from a cast model of your teeth. Because they are designed to cover all back teeth and cushion the entire jaw, they can prevent concussions caused by blows to the chin. Custom guards may be slightly more expensive than commercially produced mouthpieces, but they offer the best possible fit and protection. They are more secure in the mouth and do not interfere with speech or breathing.
Ready–made, commercial mouth guards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores and are made of rubber or polyvinyl. They are the least expensive but also the least effective. Keep your mouth guard in top shape by rinsing it with water or mouthwash after each use and allowing it to air–dry. With proper care, it should last the length of a season or longer.
Finally, the whitening agent is activated by directing a high–intensity light or laser on your teeth. The entire process takes only one or two hours.
The estimated cost of the procedure is anything between INR 2500 – INR 5000. Power bleaching is the oldest form of whitening that is used today. This method uses the highest concentration of peroxide, about 30% to 50%, and is used to treat severe discolorations or for those who want immediate results. The dentist carefully applies the peroxide to your teeth, and a heat or a light source is used to activate and accelerate the whitening process.
However, if your teeth have lost their original color due to an injury to the teeth in childhood or maybe even recently then it is suggested that you take professional advice for the same as you may require to undergo a Root Canal Treatment (RCT) prior to the bleaching procedure. After the R.C.T. is over it may either be necessary to crown the tooth or go in for a more conservative method which will mask the discolored portion of the tooth using ceramic veneers. Ceramic crowns are the most aesthetic option especially if it is a front tooth that is weak and discolored.