Teeth whitening is one of the most talked about topics in my dental chair. My patients ask me so many questions regarding teeth whitening, including their concern over teeth whitening making their teeth more translucent.
Teeth whitening with hydrogen or carbamide peroxide will not make teeth more translucent. Whitening toothpaste which is abrasive, can lead to enamel erosion, increasing the translucency of teeth. Enamel erosion can occur if professional-grade whitening products are misused, increasing transparency.
With any dental procedure, regardless of cosmetic or medical needs, risks and possible side effects are always associated. In this post, I cover the teeth whitening and translucency connection and important information you need to know to prevent your teeth from becoming translucent, regardless of whether you are whitening.
I also will cover if you can whiten translucent teeth, what makes teeth translucent, and why some translucency is normal (Fun fact: dentists try to achieve this translucent look while creating dental crowns for front teeth).
The Role of Proper Whitening Techniques in Maintaining Enamel Health
As I mentioned, using safe and effective teeth whitening products proven to be enamel-safe will not make your teeth more translucent.
It is important to use products tested and approved by dental associations that can prove their effectiveness in the highest quality of research studies.
So many products are being marketed to people for teeth whitening that frankly will not work, can be dangerous to use, and can cause tooth structure to be permanently lost.
Carbamide peroxide is the best product to use for teeth whitening. Carbamide peroxide is hydrogen peroxide and urea combined, and is less acidic than hydrogen peroxide, meaning it is safer for enamel use.
If hydrogen peroxide is not used according to the product’s instructions, overuse can occur, leading to enamel erosion and making the teeth thinner.
When enamel is lost, the yellow dentin present underneath the enamel will show through, making the teeth appear more yellow/grey.
In this study: Impact of 35% Hydrogen Peroxide on Color and Translucency Changes in Enamel and Dentin, the teeth whitened showed a decrease in transparency rather than an increase.
In-office teeth whitening that a licenced dental professional performs is the safest way to whiten teeth.
The following best ways to whiten teeth are to use custom whitening trays and gel that a dental office supplies.
The best at-home teeth whitening is to use Crest Whitestrips. I recommend them to my patients when we discuss at-home teeth whitening products.
You can find the best Crest Whitestips linked here on Amazon. These you wear for 30 minutes, which is recommended over the Whitestrips you wear for over an hour. The shorter wear means a higher percentage of peroxide, penetrating the teeth more deeply, resulting in better results.
To learn what teeth whitening products are safe and what I recommend to my patients and use myself, I created a Teeth Whitening Resource page for you! 🙂
Can you whiten translucent teeth?
Translucent teeth can be whitened, although it can be more difficult or impossible to achieve the desired whiteness because if teeth are translucent, you can’t make them more opaque to make them look white.
Because of the translucency, the dark inside of the mouth can show through the translucency, making the teeth appear dark.
Doing whitening treatments may not have any effect on the translucent teeth.
In some more severe cases, the patient may opt for dental bonding, veneers, or crowns to make their smile brighter and more uniform in colour and shade.
However, any time you alter the teeth with restorations, it can affect the integrity of the teeth. Natural teeth are always the best way to go, and dental bonding can become stained and chip off over time.
Veneers and crowns may seem like a great option, but the tooth is shaved down, removing irreplaceable tooth structure. And many people do not know that veneers and crowns do not last forever and have an average lifespan of 5-10 years, but can last up to 20 with proper care.
A complete examination is essential to understand the patient’s needs and wants and what treatments are the best option for function and aesthetics. Don’t rush into aesthetic restoration before getting multiple opinions. Make an informed decision.
What makes teeth translucent? Breaking down the causes
Teeth are individual to people, just as fingerprints are. The anatomy of people’s teeth can differ, with some having more enamel than others, making their teeth appear more white.
Others may have thinner enamel to start with, and with time, their diet and oral habits can cause them to lose more enamel on their teeth, allowing the yellow dentin layer underneath the enamel to shine through.
Natural teeth are supposed to have some translucency; without translucency, our teeth would look like pieces of white chewing gum with little definition.
In the photo of the tooth anatomy below, you can see that the dentin layer underneath the enamel is more yellow and darker in appearance.
If you are worried about teeth translucency, having regular checkups and hygiene appointments for oral health maintenance is essential.
It is also essential to be mindful of your diet, reduce your teeth’ exposure to acid and sugar, and prevent dry mouth and mouth breathing. The more time your teeth are exposed to acid, the more they can erode, making them more thin and translucent.
How translucent teeth are can affect how we perceive our smile and confidence.
I hope you have found the information here helpful!