So why whiten teeth?
Tooth whitening is an excellent treatment, and very often the first treatment of choice in cosmetic dentistry. I have met patients who thought that they needed 10 or more veneers to brighten their smile (a very extensive treatment plan); but after I encouraged them to try teeth whitening first, the results were so good that they no longer needed the veneers.
Tooth whitening is:
- * Inexpensive
- * Conservative (non-destructive) – tooth enamel is not removed
- * Whitened teeth never look fake – real teeth still look real – just brighter and cleaner
- * No permanent side effects, although a TEMPORARY sensitivity during the process is not unusual.
Who is suitable?
Most adults are suitable for tooth whitening, but yellow discolouration responds better than grey. If you have crowns, veneers or white fillings then they will NOT change colour and may look yellow beside your newly whitened teeth. Your dentist will be able to discuss this with you before your treatment.
How white can the teeth go?
This varies from person to person but everyone will see a difference. Some people’s teeth can take longer than others to reach the final shade and not everyone will achieve the same end shade, as this depends on the individual’s teeth. However, the majority of people will see a very significant change.
How long does the new colour last?
The new colour will last for many years, but it is also dependent on oral hygiene and how much tea, coffee, red wine and other richly coloured food and drink is consumed. Most people will typically top up the treatment to maintain the colour by wearing the trays for a few hours every 6 months or so.
What if you have only one dark tooth?
Often, it is possible to bleach a tooth from the inside if it the only one that has discoloured (typically after a root canal). Again this is a very conservative treatment – you may not need that crown after all!
How does it work?
There are essentially two main types of long-term whitening:
- In surgery bleaching, where a high concentration of bleach is applied to the teeth by the dentist for a short time (1-2 hours). In my experience this bleaching is only effective when combined with the custom tray kits worn at night time (option 2 below), otherwise the results fade within a few weeks.
- Take home kits using custom made trays which fit exactly to the shape of your mouth and hold the whitening gel against your teeth for a longer exposure time (6-8 hours a night for 2 or more weeks). This is what I recommend for the majority of my patients.
So which method is best?
We find that find the “at home” treatment more predictable, less uncomfortable, gives better and longer lasting results. As the whitening gel is in contact with the teeth for a longer time overall deeper, more thorough whitening is achieved.
What about the kits you can buy over the internet or in the chemist?
There are a few things to consider here here. Most importantly, the tray used to hold the bleach should be custom-made to your mouth and fit exactly; if it is not tight and allows the bleach to leak, then results will be poor and you will most likely just ingest the whitening gel..
The active ingredient used in our kits is 10-15% carbamide peroxide (equivalent to 3-5% hydrogen peroxide). Most whitening products bought over the counter such as toothpastes and whitening strips contain just 0.1% hydrogen peroxide.
Some unlicensed internet distributors supply bleaching products that are too acidic, which can permanently strip your enamel. You should always use a reputable professional when considering cosmetic dentistry – dental enamel NEVER grows back.
Will I get the same result from whitening toothpastes ?
No. Only professional whitening will give you noticeable results. Some toothpastes may remove a little more staining than others but none will significantly change the colour of your natural tooth structure.
- Visit your dentist for a comprehensive check of all of your teeth and gums before undertaking whitening. He/she will also be able to give you an indication of how suitable you are for the treatment.
- Make sure you are using whitening trays that are custom made to fit your mouth
- If teeth become sensitive during whitening, using smaller amounts of gel or lowering the gel strength (to 10%) will decrease sensitivity
- You can also use sensitive toothpastes, or wear your tray for a few minutes in the morning with the sensitive toothpaste in it. Rarely people suffer a lot of sensitivity during whitening, and in these cases we can prescribe an additional desensitising gel.
Please visit our website for more information about this, or other cosmetic dental procedures, such as:
- Invisible orthodontics to straighten teeth in as little as 3 – 8 months.
- Porcelain veneers
- Cerec, tooth coloured fillings and crowns
- Dental implants to replace missing teeth.
Tooth whitening is now on special offer at Portobello Dental Clinic until the end of October 2012 with prices starting from €175 for both upper and lower teeth.<