Why whiten my teeth?
No two smiles are exactly alike in their shape or appearance. We tend to think of teeth as being white, but actually tooth enamel comes in many different shades.
Over time, tooth enamel can change colour. Enamel stains may appear light brown, yellow, pink, black, grey or as white spots. Many things can cause teeth to become stained and discoloured:
- genetics - tooth colour runs in the family
- trauma to the teeth
- medications, such as tetracycline
- exposure to certain foods, drinks and tobacco
- excessive ingestion of fluoride while teeth are developing, before they erupt
"Whitening" is any process that makes the teeth look whiter. It may be safely performed in a dental surgery or at home and we often use a combination of both methods to achieve the best results.
Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and will make a set of upper and lower whitening trays for you. These trays are specifically made for your mouth and, when loaded with the whitening agent, will allow whitening to take place without restricting your movement or activities.
The trays are comfortable to wear and your dentist will check they fit accurately before demonstrating the whitening process.
The Whitening Process
We whiten teeth using carbamide peroxide solutions of varying strengths. If we feel your whitening treatment would benefit from a 'boost' we will suggest an in-surgery session using a stronger solution than you are allowed to use at home.
The whitening solutions are dispensed in syringes for easy loading of the whitening trays. Depending on the strength of solution chosen, the loaded trays are worn for up to an hour or overnight. Your dentist will discuss the best solution to fit in with your lifestyle. The course of the treatment varies with the whitening needs of each patient.
Does whitening harm the teeth or gums?
Safety studies have shown that whitening teeth using the dentist prescribed whitening technique is perfectly safe on the teeth, cheeks, gums and tissue of the mouth. Whitening the teeth with the dentist prescribed kits is equivalent to drinking one soda drink. The whitening material has a PH which is neutral.
There are problems with the bleaching kits that are purchased over the counter. Although they are inexpensive, they normally contain an acid rinse, which can damage the teeth or thin down the enamel of the teeth. This acid rinse can be extremely harmful to the teeth.
It’s not for everyone
Some individuals with certain dental conditions may not be good candidates for whitening. People with gum recession and exposed, highly sensitive root surfaces may find the whitening ingredients further irritate their teeth.
If you have white fillings in the front teeth that match the existing shade of your teeth before you whiten your teeth, they may not match the teeth afterwards. This is because your teeth can lighten, but the fillings do not lighten. When the desired colour has been achieved, the dentist can replace these fillings with a lighter shade of filling material to match the new shade of your teeth. Normally the dentist will wait 2-3 weeks before changing the fillings.