Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that removes stains and discolourations from your teeth. It’s a common and effective way to improve the appearance of your teeth. There are a variety of methods, but for best results, you should only use those recommended by your dentist. Here is your professional guide to a brighter, more confident smile!
Before you get started, make sure to consult with your local dentist face-to-face first. Your dentist will be able to provide a solution that is most suitable for you individually.
By the end of this post, you’ll know about:
- What is Teeth Whitening?
- What Causes Teeth Discolourations and Stains?
- Why Do People Choose Teeth Whitening?
- How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
- Different Types of Treatment Forms (Teeth Whitening Administered by Your Dentist and At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit from Your Dentist)
- Methods NOT Recommended by Your Dentist
- Tips to Maintaining Your Bright Smile
- FAQ w/ Dr Alexandra Davies
What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening products bleach teeth to lighten their colour, leaving them a few shades brighter. If your teeth are stained or discoloured, teeth whitening can offer a simple and inexpensive answer to your problem.
Teeth whitening solutions use the chemicals hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The most concentrated and therefore most effective whitening products can only be administered by your local dentist.
What Causes Teeth Discolourations and Stains?
Discolourations can have a variety of causes.
Extrinsic discolourations, which only affect the surface of the teeth (the enamel), are caused by pigmentation residue from food and drinks like coffee and red wine. Smoking can also be a cause of extrinsic discolourations. Over time, these pigments can build up in the enamel, causing stains and a yellow tint. If these stains can’t be removed from brushing teeth with normal toothpaste, teeth whitening at home or your dentist can offer a solution.
Intrinsic discolourations are a little different. They occur when the inside of the teeth (the dentin) changes its colour. Whilst some causes are unknown, dental caries, trauma, infections, decay, medication and natural aging processes are known to be causes of intrinsic discolourations.
Intrinsic discolourations need to be treated by a professional dentist, as common whitening techniques are in most cases insufficient. Since intrinsic discolourations oftentimes just affect a single tooth, it is important to match the colour to the surrounding teeth. Treating these stains can be a little more time-consuming, but is not impossible. Sometimes, your dentist will recommend more permanent solutions, such as veneers or crowns, depending on the severity of the damage.
Why Do People Choose Teeth Whitening?
There are many reasons why people may choose to brighten their teeth. Here are just a few of them:
- To prepare for a special event. If you have a wedding or birthday party to look forward to, teeth whitening can help you look and feel your best on your big day.
- To make a great first impression. You’ve landed a job interview or are going on a first date with your new crush? Teeth whitening can give you the confidence boost you needed.
- To undo mistakes of the past. Addicted to soda or tobacco? Some of our habits leave a nasty mark on our teeth. Teeth whitening can help to remove superficial proof of our poor lifestyle choices.
- Or simply to feel better. If having whiter teeth makes you happier, what other reason do you need?
Thanks to modern dental science, the perfect smile is now more attainable than ever.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening procedures involve either the physical removal or chemical removal of stains and discolourations.
Physical removal of tooth discolourations may sound a bit drastic but is actually just describing the use of whitening toothpaste that contains silica particles. Those particles polish the tooth enamel while you’re brushing your teeth. Whitening toothpaste does not contain bleach, and therefore only provides mild results. After 4-6 weeks of daily brushing, teeth usually appear up to a shade brighter. These effects may, however, reverse quickly as you stop using whitening toothpaste.
During chemical teeth whitening procedures, bleaching agents are applied to the enamel of your teeth. These bleaching agents penetrate the insides of your teeth and break down the colour.
As mentioned before, these chemical solutions use two main types of active ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.
The Difference between hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide
They are basically the same and both produce outstanding results.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that’s a combination of hydrogen and water. It has a variety of purposes and is used in many medical and cosmetic procedures.
Hydrogen peroxide works faster than carbamide peroxide and on its own is an effective whitening agent.
Carbamide peroxide is composed of urea and hydrogen peroxide. As it’s a source of hydrogen peroxide, it can be found in many disinfecting and dental bleaching products. It’s water-soluble
and has a slightly longer shelf life than hydrogen peroxide.
Teeth Whitening Administered by Your Dentist
Not having proper instruction by your dentist can be very dangerous and may result in permanent damage to your teeth and gums. Every teeth whitening treatment should begin with a consultation during which your local dentist identifies your individual needs and requirements. Since every mouth is unique, your dentist needs to assess any involved risks, inform you about possible side-effects and give you instructions for what to do before and after teeth whitening procedures.
During an in-chair teeth whitening procedure, your dentist will place a rubber shield or gel on your gums to protect both gums and soft tissues from bleaching agents. The chemical solution is then applied to the teeth.
Your teeth are then exposed to ultraviolet light or a laser to activate the whitening product. As the peroxide gets into the teeth’s enamel, stains and discolourations are removed. The process is most effective with yellow stains, less so with grey teeth.
Only dentists are allowed to use a higher concentration of the bleaching solutions. They offer outstanding results even after the first treatment. They may have mild side effects, such as irritated gums and sensitive teeth.
In-chair teeth whitenings are popular but often costly procedures, offered by many dental clinics. Most dentists will recommend using at-home treatments following up on in-office teeth whitening.
At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit from Your Dentist
After an initial consultation, your local dentist can also provide you with an at-home teeth whitening kit, that usually includes a custom-made tray. The tray looks like a thin mouthguard and is filled with the provided whitening solution every time you are using it.
To ensure you choose the safest, most effective option that will work effectively on your teeth, discuss your needs with your dentist. Your local dentist at Admire Dentistry uses the take-home system Pola Day CP by SDI. Whether you’re using it for 15 minutes, or twice per day, you’ll immediately see dramatic changes.
Pola Day CP contains 35 per cent carbamide peroxide. It is a pH neutral take-home tooth whitening gel that is pleasantly flavoured and crystal clear. Its high enough water content reduces sensitivity to minimise the risk of side effects.
Applying an at-home teeth whitening kit from your dentist is not difficult at all. Here is how it works:
1. Place a small drop of gel into every compartment of the tray for the teeth undergoing treatment.
2. Seat the tray carefully, with the gel inside, around the teeth.
3. Wipe away any excess gel in your mouth using a tissue or dry soft brush.
4. After the treatment is completed, remove the tray. Rinse the tray and your mouth with lukewarm water.
5. Brush your teeth.
Full instructions on the correct way to use the kit will be provided by your dentist.
Methods NOT Recommended by Your Dentist
The first stop on your way to whiter teeth should always be the dentist. Regular professional dental cleaning in combination with the use of at-home teeth whitening kits from your dentist and strict oral hygiene is still the safest way to brighten your smile.
Your dentist will, however, recommend you to stay away from:
- Any over the counter whitening or home-made products lacking the oversight of your dentist. This includes Charcoal and other whitening toothpaste if manufactured too high in regard to abrasiveness and Whitening mouthwash. May lead to irritation of the gums and soft tissue of the mouth.
- Beauty salons offering teeth whitening services, as they aren’t overseen by dental professionals.
In addition, it is important to consult your dentist if you have any of the following as you may require a personalised approach to your whitening needs:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have sensitive teeth
- Have veneers, fillings, crowns, and caps
- Have gum disease or shrinkage
- Have discolouration that is brown or grey
- Have cracks or exposed dentine
- Have a sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide.
Tips for Maintaining Your Bright Smile
To keep a life-long beautiful and bright smile, prevention is still the best method!
To prevent stains and discolourations, keep in mind to:
- Limit your consumption of foods and drinks that are prone to cause stainings, such as wine, coffee, tea and sodas.
- Avoid smoking.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and before bed, and after eating decay-promoting foods.
- Don’t forget to floss.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned regularly.
- Go for regular check-ups at your local dentist.
FAQ w/ Dr Alexandra Davies
- Q:We always get the question – does it damage my teeth?
A:Professional teeth whitening is a very safe procedure. While you might experience increased levels of sensitivity during and right after the treatment, in-chair treatments performed by your dentist and teeth whitening kits purchased from your dentist do not damage your teeth.
- Q:How long do whitening effects last?
A:You can expect results to last six months up to two years. Effects will slowly and gradually fade over time. The length of time until another treatment is required very much depends on how easily your teeth stain, what your diet looks like and your overall lifestyle.
- Q:Are teeth whitening treatments safe?
A:If you’re going to a dental professional, you can be sure you’re in safe hands. Your dentist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have during an initial consultation.
- Q:How many shades whiter will my teeth be?
A:How much of a change you’ll see, depends on your teeth. The results differ from person to person. To expect a change of two two three shades per treatment is however realistic.
- Q:Does teeth whitening work on fillings or crowns?
A:Crowns and fillings are either made from porcelain or composite materials which means they can’t be whitened. If it’s been a while since you got your crowns and fillings, your teeth were probably a shade lighter. Unfortunately, the only way to match their colour to that of the rest of your teeth, is by having them replaced or re-done.
As a general rule of thumb, no matter which method of whitening you decide to use, it’s always a good idea to get your dentist’s advice on the matter before going ahead. Whilst whitening is safe, incorrect use of bleaching agents can damage your teeth and gums. One of the most common side effects of whitening is increased tooth sensitivity, so it is important to complete bleaching under instruction from your dentist. We can help choose the best bleaching method for you and offer suggestions as to how we can minimise any sensitivity during bleaching. As with any procedure, whitening will require maintenance. We can recommend the best follow up routine to help you maintain your results for as long as possible. Keeping stains and discolourations at bay with regular check-ups and professional cleaning at your local dentist should be a priority.
At Admire Dentistry we’re looking forward to helping you to a smile you’ll love. Our dedicated team offers comprehensive dental treatment in a trusting, gentle and comfortable environment. Book your appointment today. We’re looking forward to meeting you.