Teeth whitening is also known as teeth bleaching.
It is all about improving and revitalising the smile.
Coffee, tea, smoking and other eating habits discolour teeth, making them darker.
Whitening, highlights the teeth and reveals a much-desired smile. It also boosts a person’s confidence. Depending on the original colour and shade, teeth whitening will give different results.
Some aspects to consider before whitening:
- All tooth cavities should be treated before the procedure. If not treated, decayed teeth can get worse after the procedure.
- Note that old fillings and crowns do not change colour. Make sure you discuss that with your dentist and whether these could be changed after you have reached a satisfactory whitening result to match the whitened teeth.
- Teeth whitening can increase the sensitivity of your teeth for a short period of time. From several hours to several days.
- Depending on a person’s life style and eating and drinking habits, the whitening effect can last for several months to a couple of years. Smoking, coffee and tea will discolour teeth quicker.
- Some teeth will not whiten and the best way of improving the smile would be crowning or veneering the teeth. This applies especially to teeth that have already been filled or for teeth that are internally discoloured.
- Whitening is not recommended for pregnant women although no evidence of harm has been investigated or shown.
How is teeth whitening done?
Nowadays there are many products on the market for teeth whitening.
The safest way is to have the whitening done under the supervision of a dental professional.
There is chair side (in office whitening) and at home whitening.
These two procedures can be monitored and evaluated by your dentist. It is important to stop the procedure immediately if side effects occur such as extreme sensitivity or gum damage.
Chair side whitening
Chair side whitening is done by your dentist and usually takes one treatment session. The gums are protected and the whitening gel is applied to the teeth. The teeth are then exposed to a high-density light to activate and speed up the whitening reaction. The patient will be able to see the results immediately.
Home whitening has become very popular among patients.
You can have home whitening done with the help of your dentist.
This type of whitening may take up to two weeks for the whitening to take effect and to reach a desired result.
- Home whitening with your dentist’s help:
Your dentist takes an impression of your teeth. The impression is then sent to a dental technician who makes custom made trays to fit your teeth perfectly.
At your next visit, you collect the trays and receive the necessary advice on how to use the whitening material provided by your dentist.
- Home whitening kits bought over the counter or from the Internet:
These kits usually fall into two groups:
- Kits that include impression materials and offer a technician service. You take the impression yourself, and send it to the technician who then makes custom made trays for you to use with the provided whitening material.
- Kits that come with standard trays that you can start using straight away.
As explained before, it is recommended to have your teeth examined by a dentist before you decide to use a home whitening kit.
Is whitening safe?
Whitening has been proven to be safe if used in moderation.
The high concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide cleans the stains from the outer surface of the enamel. If the chemicals are used extensively they can weaken the enamel and make it brittle.
To avoid this, you can treat the teeth with high concentration Fluoride gel or toothpastes. The best way is to apply Fluoride gel in a custom made tray that is usually worn during the night.
Remember: Despite being more expensive, having your teeth whitened professionally is always the safest way to do it.
Whitening is not the only way of enhancing your smile. Teeth straightening or crowns and veneers can sometimes be the answer to your prayers.
Always ask your dentist for the best advice.