Overtime, the natural colour of our teeth may change due to various factors, such as age, eating and lifestyle habits. Smoking and consuming drinks such as tea, coffee, and red one can stain teeth in the long-term. ‘Calculus’ or tartar build up can, too, affect the colour of your teeth. Certain antibiotics can also affect staining of teeth or by minuscule cracks in your teeth.
Professional tooth whitening (‘bleaching’) can lighten the existing shade of the colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surfaces. There are two options of whitening available to those interesting in lightening the complexion of their smile: (1) in-surgery laser whitening, and (2) a personalised home-whitening kit. In both options, the ‘active ingredient’ in the whitening products is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Our dentist will need to assess your teeth that you are suitable for tooth whitening and, if so, which option would be of most benefit to you.
In-surgery Laser Whitening
The first option, laser tooth whitening, is only available at the comfort of our dental practice. A rubber shield or gel is applied to yours gums to protect them from the whitening agent. A whitening product is then applied to the surface of each tooth and a laser is used to activate and enhance the effectiveness of the bleach. Laser whitening is said to make teeth up to five or six shades lighter in one session, although this can vary on a case-by-case basis. Applying the agent from the inside can too, whiten dead teeth, which have become discoloured after a root filling. Given the existing regulations on teeth whitening, the maximum concentration of hydrogen peroxide that can be used in whitening is 6% or 16% regarding carbamide peroxide.
Home Whitening Kit
The latter option, home whitening kits, involves taking impressions of your upper and lower teeth in order to create a personalised tray that fits only your mouth like a mouth guard. Once the trays are ready, you will be given whitening syringes and shown how to add the product to the trays before placing them on your teeth. Depending on the current state of your teeth and your desired shade of white, you will need to regularly apply the whitening product over a two to four week period, for 30 minutes to one hour at a time.
Post-whitening treatments, some people may find that their teeth become somewhat sensitive. We will provide you with special toothpaste to help manage the sensitivity of your teeth. Other patients have reported that they may feel discomfort in the gums, a sore throat, and/or white patches on the gum line. Any side effects are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing. If any side effects continue, please contact your dentist.
The effects of tooth whitening are reported to last up to three years. However, this of course varies from person to person. Also, these results are dependent on your lifestyle and dietary habits. There are several whitening toothpastes on the market, which may help the whitening effect to last, one your teeth have been professionally whitened.
Tooth whitening can only lighten natural teeth and will not work on ‘false’ teeth, such as dentures, crowns, and veneers.
Do ask one of our dentists for their professional opinion prior to starting treatment.