Monday, 4 April 2016


Good morning dearies. I hope the week has started on the right note for everyone. I have been having a lot of  wonderful and new experiences at GIMPA in Accra, Ghana. Informally I announce that I was selected as a participant for the Young African Leaders Initiative, West Africa and while I'm having the 3D or do I say 5D experience, I haven't forgotten Healthglamm
and my readers. As such, when I heard Dr Hammond, an intelligent Ghanaian and Ghana based dentist talking to Lola on the subject of teeth whitening, my tentacles arose.
While waiting to be called for our turn at the buffet stand, Lola walked in and joined our table. We were in a conversation when she excused herself to ask Dr Hammond how she could get her teeth whitened. Of course she mentioned something about having consulted a dentist friend in Nigeria who said she should seriously consider the pros and cons of the procedure before embarking on it. This perked my interest and I turned in their direction. At some point in the conversation, I asked Dr Hammond why I couldn't just do the whole teeth whitening thing at home and he went on to explain. At the end I couldn't help myself, I just had to ask for an article on the subject and he obliged me. Do join me as we learn together...
Tooth whitening or bleaching is one of the popular methods of improving on the color of teeth. It is carried out with the use of peroxide based materials with or without an external source of light as an accelerator.
The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel - the outer layer of the tooth, combined with the color of the dentin under it. Your genetic makeup affects the thickness and smoothness of the enamel which has an overall effect on the color. There are varied reasons why teeth get discoloured and would need bleaching. These include:
- Ageing
- Previous trauma to teeth
- Hereditary conditions which have effects on the teeth
- Exposure to high levels of fluoride during infancy
- Intake of certain medications such as tetracycline.
- Other causes of tooth discolouration include excessive intake of certain beverages such as tea and coffee, tobacco use and poor oral hygiene.
The decision on whether a person’s teeth can be whitened would usually follow a thorough examination by a dentist.
Preparations to be done include ensuring all cavities are treated, prophylactic scaling and polishing done to remove extrinsic stains and debris. Measurements of the teeth may also be taken to make trays to hold the bleaching material if the procedure is to be carried out at home.
Bleaching can be carried out either in the dental office or at home. It can also be done on vital(living) or non-vital(dead) teeth.
For the office bleaching, a thin protective film is applied at the neck of the teeth to protect the gums around the teeth. The bleaching material is then put on the teeth directly and may be activated by light. Each appointment takes about fifteen minutes per session and it may take about 3-4 different sessions to get the teeth to the desired shade of white.
Home bleaching involves wearing the custom made trays which have some bleaching material placed in them usually overnight or for several hours within the day. The material used in this case is usually of a lower strength compared to what is used in the dental office.
It is very important to know that there are precautions needed to ensure the treatment achieves its objective. You will need to avoid substances that tend to stain the teeth such as palm oil, tea, coffee and tobacco. Also there may be need for touch-up treatment to maintain the shade.
Worth knowing is also the fact that a tooth has a limit beyond which it cannot be bleached any further as doing so would rather cause severe sensitivity to the patient.
Tooth bleaching may cause tooth sensitivity in some individuals after treatment but this can managed post operatively and even during the process as some of the materials used are incorporated with potassium nitrate. Bleaching does affect the color of fillings and crowns and this needs to be taken into consideration as the treatment is carried out.
It is also contraindicated in individuals who already have sensitive teeth or pregnant women. Such persons are encouraged to explore other alternatives such as ceramic veneers or full coverage crowns.
If maintained properly the teeth would need retreatment every three to five years.
Dr Albert Hammond
BDS, BSc Med Sc
I hope we learnt something here because I did and once again I appreciate Dr Hammond for the knowledge shared.

Do Stay Safe And Live Clean With Dr Ib.
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  1. The article is personal to me too. I take coffee almost every day here bcos of the weather. Few years ago, I noticed that the colour of my teeth was changing but I devised a means of brushing 3x a day - Morning, after work(i.e after drinking coffee) & before sleep after my night prayers. And it works effectively for me.Thanks once more and enjoy your stay in Ghana.

  2. Thank you for this informative article. I never imagined that teeth bleaching can cause sensitive teeth.

    Once again, thank you for sharing your knowledge wit us.