They say you’re never fully dressed without your smile, so it’s not surprising that people want their teeth to always look their best.
With very few people naturally having perfectly white teeth and plenty of reasons for them to become discoloured, the whitening procedure is a popular choice for those visiting their dentist. But with some common misconceptions arising, we’ve put together the top facts surrounding professional teeth whitening treatments.
What is tooth whitening and why should it be done?
The discolouration of teeth is natural and can happen to anyone. A typical cause can be age, but other factors such as smoking, health problems and diet can also contribute to the changing colour of our once pearly whites.
To combat it, some people opt to whiten their teeth. It’s a simple procedure that lightens the appearance of teeth without removing the tooth’s surface. This means it is non-invasive and often pain-free. It’s important to remember that teeth whitening may not remove all the discolouration from teeth, but it will work to lighten the existing shade of the tooth.
How does teeth whitening work?
The most popular tooth whitening treatment is professional bleaching. It is a fairly simple procedure. To prepare for this, your dentist will start by taking impressions of your teeth to make custom moulds that will be used during the treatment.
The whitening product will be applied to your teeth using the custom whitening trays that will hold the whitening gel around your teeth.
The gel works by using an active ingredient that gets broken down on the application, allowing for oxygen to lighten the shade of your teeth by getting into the tooth enamel.
The treatment will take place over the course of two to four weeks. The process will start with a couple of trips to the dentist where your consultant will start the treatment, but you’ll be able to complete the remained of the procedure in the comfort of your own home.
Your dentist will show you how to apply the teeth whitening gel and all you have to do is repeat the process at home. This will need to be done regularly over the following two to four weeks.
How long will the results of teeth whitening last?
The treatment is very effective and can last for several months or years. It is important to remember that this can vary depending on your lifestyle. For example, if you smoke, the results will not last as long. Similarly, drinking lots of tea and coffee can re-darken the shade of your teeth. In your initial consultation, your dentist will be able to give you a clearer idea based on your specific lifestyle.
Are there any side effects of tooth whitening?
Side effects of tooth whitening are fairly rare, but some people do find that the treatment can increase sensitivity to cooler food and drink. Other people have reported temporary side effects such as a sore throat and tender gums. However, these symptoms are known to only last a few days after treatment has finished.
If any symptoms do persist, it’s important to see your dentist.
Alternative tooth whitening options
Outside of the dental practice, it’s easy to find alternative, at-home options such as a home whitening kit. These can include anything from strips to paint-on whitener. These kits are also cheaper.
However, many of these kits are not as effective as they do not tend to have the best whitening agent and are instead more acidic. European regulations state that kits available to consumers must not have more than 0.1% peroxide. Often, this is too little an amount to effectively change the shade of your teeth.
Can I whiten my dentures?
The tooth whitening procedure is only effective on natural teeth where it works to reduce the natural colouring. This means that the treatment will not be effective on dentures, veneers or crowns. If these are stained, they can be professionally cleaned by your dentist.
Overall, tooth whitening is a safe and effective treatment that can enhance the overall look and appearance of your smile. Within a few short, pain-free sessions, you can remove any stains and natural discolouration. Is it time that you get your pearly whites back?