Teeth Whitening has been available for some years but recently it has leaped to the top of the cosmetic treatments list. We are finding more and more patients are asking about teeth whitening and many are asking if there are side effects or if it can causes damage to teeth. On the other hand research shows that there is an increase of over 300% in demand for modern whitening techniques so it is quite possible some people jump right in without asking any questions at all. Well here are the answers to some of the questions we've been asked and some important facts that anyone who is considering cosmetic teeth whitening should know.
Teeth Whitening – does it work?
As dentists we would never recommend a treatment unless we were convinced that it was safe and effective. Professional teeth whitening, administered by a dentist, definitely falls into this category and there can be little doubt that it really does work. What's more the results can be an absolute transformation as the feedback we get from many happy smiling patients proves. If your dentist performs the teeth whitening procedure you can have a smile to be proud of in just a few hours. Alternatively you can take the diy route. Ask your dentist to make you a tray and perform the procedure at home over a period of several weeks. You will need to be patient and ensure you complete the full treatment plan but in the end you will be very pleased with the results.
Why do I need to whiten my teeth?
People choose to whiten their teeth to gain a more confident and attractive smile. White teeth look better, but unfortunately everyone's teeth are stained by food and drink. Over time, tea and coffee as well as red wine, soft drinks and the colorants in food all contribute to discolouration. Some medication can also cause staining and smokers’ teeth can become permanently stained if nothing is done. Tooth brushing alone cannot restore teeth affected by many years of staining. And often people whose teeth are badly discoloured may over-brush in an attempt to remove stains damaging the enamel covering of their teeth.
What happens in the teeth whitening procedure?
Teeth whitening treatment essentially lightens the colour of your teeth to improve your appearance by reducing tooth discolouration, giving you a brighter smile. The term 'whitening' is misleading however as teeth vary in colour and no one actually has white teeth. Teeth differ in shade and some people’s teeth are naturally darker than others. The actual degree of 'whiteness' achieved will vary from patient to patient but the results are invariably a great improvement.
In-surgery whitening is fast and makes an immediate difference. During the procedure whitening gel will be applied to your teeth by the dentist and a special light used to activate the gel. Once the gel is activated, it remains on your teeth for 15-20 minutes before further applications. Your teeth can be whitened by several shades and tooth shade charts may be used during the consultation to access your current tooth colour and establish your whitening goal.
For a home whitening kit you will have a custom made mouth tray created by your dentist which you will use for the treatment. The kit includes a whitening gel which is placed in the tray. You then wear the tray for a few hours a day or overnight and improvements are normally seen over a 2-4 week period. Home kits offer a flexible option and although they may take longer, the results can be as effective as in-surgery whitening.
Will I need the treatment again?
Your teeth should never darken back to their original colour completely after professional teeth whitening, but most people notice a slight fade back after 18 months to 2 years. This can easily be remedied by just a few hours use of a home whitening kit.
Will the treatment cause any damage to my teeth?
Properly administered whitening will not damage your teeth. However, whitening procedures should not be undertake without a consultation with your dentist who will examine the condition and sensitivity of your teeth and gums. Some patients may suffer temporary sensitivity as a result of the effect of the whitening gel used in the procedure, but this is usually mild and short term.
What can I do to keep my teeth white?
To help your teeth whitening treatment last as long as possible it is important to avoid food and drink that could stain your teeth for at least a week after whitening. These should also be avoided while administering the home teeth whitening treatment. It is also recommended that you stop smoking for as long as possible as this is also detrimental to your health.