PUBLISHED IN TCI WEEKLY NEWS
4th October 2014
It is no surprise that we all find bright, white teeth more attractive than dull, brown or grey teeth; white teeth are associated with youth, as well as cleanliness and health.
Dental whitening (or ‘bleaching’) is a cosmetic procedure which uses hydrogen peroxide to change the colour of teeth and help return you to a whiter smile.
There are many reasons why teeth change colour: aging, diet,(eg. drinking black coffee, red wine), smoking habits, and even teeth grinding.
Whilst many superficial ‘extrinsic’ stains (stains on the outside) can be removed by regular brushing at home and professional cleaning at your dentist, more stubborn extrinsic stains and intrinsic staining (staining on the inside of the teeth) will remain. This is where dental whitening can really make a difference.
Dental Whitening Solutions
There are three main options when considering dental whitening.
The procedure takes about an hour, and because it uses a relatively high concentration of bleaching gel requires a dentist to administer it. The lips and gums are protected and the bleaching gel is painted into the teeth. A ‘laser’ light can then be used to help activate the gel. This accelerates the bleaching effects of the gel and generally improves whitening results. The gel is removed after approximately 15mins and the procedure is repeated another one or two times. This method produces the most rapid results; you will see an immediate, significant colour change at that first appointment. For 3 days after this procedure it is recommended that you do not eat or drink anything highly coloured.
– Professionally dispensed whitening kits for use at home
This method is still effective but uses a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide so results are achieved more gradually over a period of days. The kit contains pre-loaded trays which are applied onto the teeth for a period of an hour. I recommend repeating this for 4 or 5 days although the kits I stock contain enough for a 10 day course.
These contain the lowest concentration of active ingredient which is applied to the teeth by strips, paint-on applicators and universal-sized trays. Depending on what degree of a colour change you are seeking these can be satisfactory and convenient solution although will generally require longer to gets visible results.
It is important to stress that dental whitening does not cause any damage to teeth. However, I would add some ‘watch outs’. I do not recommend any method using the higher concentrations if you have sensitive teeth or for anyone under the age of 20 years. If you have crowns or veneers you need to be aware that these will not change colour during the whitening procedure.
The whitening method you select is purely down to personal choice, based on how quickly you want to achieve results, how significant a colour change you want to achieve, your budget and whether you are comfortable self-administering.
However, whichever method you choose you will be able to smile with more confidence knowing you have that clean, white, bright smile.