Teeth Whitening Treatments

Posted on December 15, 2009 in Dental Articles

PictureHave you ever wanted a white, attention-grabbing, perfect “Hollywood” smile? You’re not alone. In this article, well explain how years of coffee, wine, soda and other unsightly stains can be removed quickly, safely, and with minimal discomfort.

Before we get into the details of tooth whitening, let’s take a minute to meet the enemy.

What are tooth stain anyway?
Stained or discoluored teeth are a major problem for many people. We all start out with beautiful, white teeth but over time, our teeth begin to discoluor as a result of many factors. These factors include tea or coffee drinking, food especially curries and nicotine stains as a result of smoking.

Another factor is that  of genetics: some people do find their teeth are prone to staining more than others. Others notice that their teeth start to yellow or darken with age.

We may think of staining on just one level but there are in fact, 3 levels of stains:

  •  Surface level or superficial stains: these can be removed using good whitening toothpaste or via scale and polish by your dentist.
  • Deep rooted stains: these are stains which, over time, have worked their way into the structure of the teeth. Often caused by eating, drinking and smoking. These cannot be removed by a scale and polish or whitening toothpaste and so require a professional approach.
  • Developmental or inherited stains: these are largely genetic in origin. For example, if someone has been taking a course of tetracycline antibiotics during tooth development then these can, unfortunately, result in greyish looking teeth.

If you are one of these people who dread smiling because of the state of your teeth then perhaps teeth whitening can help. It can also give you that pearly white smile so often seen on celebrities, models and film stars.

What is Teeth Whitening?PictureTeeth whitening is a form of cosmetic dentistry which uses a bleaching process to remove stains from teeth. This also improves their coluor and overall appearance. If you have dull, darkish or yellow teeth then it can restore to a ‘pearly white’ appearance.Depending on the amount of staining, you may find that whitening toothpaste or the gold old scale and polish via your dentist can help.

How much does teeth whitening cost?

Costs also depend on whether you have in-house (laser) treatment or opt for a home whitening kit. In surgery treatment such as laser whitening is quicker and so more expensive than a home whitening kit. The cost depends on the type of treatment you have. Costs of treatment vary from one clinic to another.

What is the teeth whitening procedure?

If you have opted for in-surgery (“in-house”) treatment then this will take the form of laser or light treatment. Both of this involve the application of a whitening gel which is activated by a handheld laser or light. This helps to speed up the whitening process. With a home whitening kit you are given custom made bleaching trays to wear on your teeth. The day after you return to your dentist for a deep bleaching session which completes the process.

How long does teeth whitening last for?

If you follow regular hygiene routine and have frequent check ups then the effects can be permanent. Bear in mind that to achieve this you will need to have ‘maintenance’ or ‘top up’ sessions once a year or so just to preserve your white smile. Your dentist will advise you on what routine to follow to keep your newly whitened teeth. This will include no dark coluored foods or drinks, such as red wine, for at least a week after treatment and brushing and flossing twice a day.

Must Remember after Teeth Whitening Treatment:

  • Teeth are naturally darker along the gum line. These areas may require time to lighten that the rest of the tooth surface and usually remain slightly darker.
  • A small percentage of patients experience sensitivity with bleaching. Should this occur, contact your dentist. It may be recommended that you bleach every second or third night.
  • Foods and juices high in citrus acid can cause sensitivity to the teeth.
  • Some patients have noticed temporary discomfort of the gums, lips, throat, or tongue. Should any of these symptoms persist more that two days or progressively worsen, call your dentist. These side effects will usually subside with 3 days after treatment is discontinued.
  • Coffee, tobacco and any other products can restain your teeth over time.
  • Regular dental checkups and cleaning are important before and after bleaching to maintain a healthy smile.
  • If you have any questions pertaining to this treatment, please ask your dentist.
  • Some old amalgam or “silver” filling may leave a dark purple color in your bleaching tray; this is normal.