Teeth whitening is a process to brighten and lighten the existing shade of your teeth. ‘At home' kits are the preferred option we recommend for whitening as you can do this from the comfort of your own home.
Patient's Teeth Before & After Teeth Whitening
The process begins with the dentist performing an examination of your teeth and assessing the current shade to determine if whitening is appropriate for you. During this first visit impressions will be made to create special whitening trays that are custom made specifically for your teeth. These impressions are then sent away to create your trays. Upon your second visit the trays shall be ready and will be given to you along with the bleaching gel and instructions on how to use it. Photos will be taken of your current teeth to show your teeth’s progress, these will serve as your ‘before’ photos. Bleaching gel is to be put into the whitening trays, worn overnight, removed the next morning and repeat nightly for 2-4 weeks until you are satisfied with the shade of your teeth. An appointment shall be made 1-2 weeks after you started whitening your teeth to review your progress and for you to discuss anything with the dentist. In total there will be 2-4 visits with the dentist over the period of whitening your teeth. Upon your last appointment more photos will be taken of your teeth, these serve as your ‘after’ photos.
What does teeth whitening do?
Teeth whitening can be a highly effective, yet very simple way, of lightening the colour of teeth without removing any of the tooth surface.
What does the procedure involve?
In a live tooth the dentist applies the whitening product using a specially made tray which fits into the mouth like a gum shield. The active ingredient in the product is normally hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
If the tooth has been root treated, the canal, which previously contained the nerve, may be reopened and the whitening product is put in.
In both cases, the procedure needs to be repeated until the right shade is reached.
How long does the procedure take?
Your dentist will need to make whitening trays and will need to take impressions for this at the first appointment. Once your dentist has started the treatment, you will have to continue the treatment at home. This will mean applying the bleach regularly over 2-4 weeks and leaving it in the mouth overnight.
However, some newer products can be applied for up to 8 hours at a time, which means that a satisfactory result can be obtained in as little as 1 week.
Why would I need teeth whitening?
Everyone is different and just as our hair and skin colour varies, so do our teeth. Some teeth have a yellowish tinge, some are more beige – very few are actually ‘white’. Teeth also yellow with age can become stained on the surface by food and drinks such as tea, coffee and blackcurrant. Calculus (tartar) can also affect the colour of the teeth. Some people may have staining inside their teeth. This can be caused by certain antibiotics or tiny cracks in the teeth, which take up the stain.
Will I be happy with the results?
Treatment results may vary depending on the original shade of the teeth. Teeth will tend to darken slightly over time. It can last from a few months to up to 3 years, but this varies from person to person, although sometimes it can last longer. Some people find that their teeth are sensitive for the first few days after treatment, but this wears off after a short while.
When might teeth whitening not work?
Whitening can only lighten your existing tooth colour and only works on natural teeth. For a change to specific chosen shade veneering is another option. It will not work on any type of 'false’ teeth. This includes dentures, crowns and veneers. If dentures are stained or discoloured, it may be worth visiting the dentist and asking him or her to clean them. Stained veneers, crowns and dentures may need replacing. Again, ask your dentist.
What are the risks of teeth whitening?
No matter what treatment you use, there is a chance your gums can be sensitive to the chemicals used in teeth whitening, especially if you already have sensitive teeth. There's also a chance of burns to gums and some of the over-the-counter whitening kits can harm tooth enamel.
What about over-the-counter kits?
Over-the-counter kits are not recommended as they contain only a small amount of hydrogen peroxide which makes the product less effective. Some also contain mild acids, while others are abrasive. Although these products are cheaper, whitening is a complicated treatment procedure and should only be carried out by a dentist after a thorough examination and assessment of your teeth. It is very important to follow the instructions your dentist gives you, and to make sure that you go for any follow-up appointments recommended.
What about whitening toothpaste?
There are now several whitening toothpastes you can buy. Although they do not affect the natural colour of the tooth, they are effective at removing staining and therefore improving the overall appearance of the tooth. Whitening toothpaste may also help to keep up the appearance, once teeth have been professionally whitened.