Teeth whitening is a simple quick and safe way to renew your smile. It’s one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures and the results can be quite dramatic. An hour in the dentist’s chair can transform discoloured and stained teeth into a whiter and brighter smile.
Alternatively, a whitening kit suggested by your dentist allows you to try the whitening process in the comfort of your own home.
What causes discoloured teeth?
There are of course a wide range of reasons teeth become discoloured over time, for some they are just born with yellowish-white teeth while for others, their teeth simply yellow as they age. Of course, the biggest cause of stained and discoloured teeth is due to what we put into our mouths. Tea, coffee, wine and smoking all discolour teeth and the more you smoke or drink, the worse this staining will become. Dark foods such as cherries and beetroot can also cause staining of the teeth. Unfortunately, too, the side effects of some medications can also make your teeth look discoloured or stained.
Fortunately for most people teeth, whitening procedures can work effectively.
Is whitening the right choice for you?
The best way to see if you are the right candidate for teeth whitening procedures is through a thorough dental examination, there may be a reason WHY your teeth are becoming stained or yellow and this needs to be looked at first. You may have another underlying dental issue or problem that needs treatment rather than a course of teeth whitening.
Fillings or teeth or gum sensitivity may prevent the use of some products, so a short appointment with your dentist will reveal if there are any alternative solutions available for you. Some brands of teeth whitening kits are unsuitable if you have veneers or crowns as the peroxide present in the product can’t penetrate the surface. Again – your dentist will be able to tell you what your options are and how to brighten your teeth effectively.
What are the treatments?
There are two main ways you can brighten your teeth, one is to buy an over the counter home whitening kit that you can use at home – after speaking to your dentist first. Or you can have a tooth whitening procedure carried out professionally by your dentist at his or her surgery.
A whitening procedure carried out at your dentist generally can be completed in just one visit. Your dentist will give you a check-up first to ensure your teeth are in good condition before starting the procedure. To protect your gums a gel is used and a solution containing hydrogen peroxide is then applied to your teeth. The teeth are then exposed to a special bright light – this allows oxygen to be released, stains are lifted from the surface of the teeth leaving the tooth whitened. In laser whitening, the same procedure is followed but a laser – rather than a bright light – is used to activate the oxygen in the compound.
Your dentist may provide you with a home whitening kit which will include a tray that looks like a mouth guard with a whitening solution to fill it. You will also be told how to use it correctly. This involves the dentist taking an impression of your teeth in preparation for making a custom-made ultra-thin mouth tray. This tray is used to hold the bleaching gel close to your teeth. The whitening gel is placed inside the tray which you then wear for up to two hours a day. Your dentist will tell you how long you need to wear the tray and results can usually be seen within two weeks.
There are also many over the counter home whitening kits available which may include toothpaste, gels, whitening trays and strips. To ensure you choose the most effective and safest kit for you to discuss this with your dentist.
In general, always ask your dentist’s advice before buying any over the counter teeth whitening kits.
How long will teeth whitening last?
A whitening procedure can last for years it all depends on which technique and product you use. You also need to coordinate this with good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist to help keep your teeth as white as possible for as long as possible. There are other factors that play a part including – ageing, alcohol, medications, diet, smoking and many other factors that can change the shade of your teeth over time. The good news is when that does happen, just head back to your dentist for a touch-up.
The cost of teeth whitening depends on the type of procedure, before any treatment your dentist will be able to advise you of the cost involved.