Why Do Teeth Become Discoloured?
Our teeth change colour as we get older, and as we expose them to darker coloured food and beverages, and this is why we associate a brighter smile with youth. When we are younger, the dentin inside the teeth is white, and it yellows with age.
Only professional teeth whitening can penetrate the tooth enamel to bleach stains and discolouration that occurs in the dentin.
How Does Professional Teeth Whitening Work?
Professional teeth whitening products contain a high percentage of hydrogen peroxide in order to bleach teeth safely and effectively. In fact, only treatments administered by your dental professional can contain more than 6% hydrogen peroxide by law. Having your teeth whitening done by your dentist means that you can use a treatment containing more than 30% hydrogen peroxide. This translates into shorter treatment times and a safer experience for you. An in-chair whitening treatment is the quickest way to whiten your teeth.
Your first step is to go through the pre-whitening checkup and clean. During this consultation your dental practitioner will give your teeth a check-up, looking for signs of dental decay and gum disease to ensure your teeth are strong enough for a whitening treatment.
Assuming everything goes well, your dentist will give you a professional clean to make sure that all traces of plaque and tartar are removed from your teeth before polishing them to be smooth. This makes them appear cleaner and brighter straight away, and also ensures a smooth surface for your whitening treatment. You will discuss your whitening goals with your dentist who will give you some idea of what can be achieved and how long it will take. You will decide whether to have an in-chair treatment or whether you prefer take-home trays.
In-chair Whitening Treatments
If you opt for an in-chair treatment, your dentist will protect your gums and soft tissue, before painting a thin layer of bleaching agent onto the surface of your teeth. This approach ensures that any teeth that are badly stained can be given more attention. Once all the teeth surfaces are coated your dentist will shine a light onto your teeth to activate the bleaching agent in the solution. This process may need to be repeated a few times before you can achieve your desired shade of white.
Take-home Whitening Treatments
If you prefer to do your whitening treatment yourself, you will still need to go through the pre-whitening check up and discuss your whitening goals with your dentist. Your dentist will give your teeth a professional clean and polish and a safe concentration of bleaching agent to use.
It’s important that you follow your dentist’s instructions exactly, and do not leave the whitening treatment on for longer than instructed or use it more frequently than directed. You will be given trays customised to your mouth shape and some bleaching agent. Before each treatment you will need to brush and floss your teeth before dispensing a drop of the bleach into each section of the tray. You will wear the tray for a few hours during the day or overnight. You might need to wait a week or two before you notice results – that’s why it’s always a good idea to take before and after photos so you can monitor your progress.
How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?
The length of time your newly whitened smile lasts for depends on what you expose your teeth to. If you quit smoking and limit your exposure to tobacco products, coffee and red wine you can expect to keep your brightened smile for longer. You can discuss your expectations for top up treatments with your dentist before your teeth whitening.
How To Keep Teeth White?
It isn’t worth wasting your time and money on pharmacy-bought or over-the-counter teeth whitening products that are not guaranteed to work. Many sites that claim natural remedies like baking soda, charcoal and vinegar can cause damage to your tooth enamel or may just remove extrinsic stains.
If you’d like to know more about how to keep teeth white safely, it’s time to speak to a professional. Please contact us for an appointment so we can discuss professional whitening that is safe and effective: (02) 9158 6379