What do I need to know about teeth whitening?
Do you look at your teeth and wish they were brighter? Perhaps you wish you had a magic wand to erase any staining or discolouration.
If this sounds familiar, you might find that teeth whitening could help you achieve the smile of your dreams.
Before you opt for this treatment, keep in mind the below factors; these will help you make a more informed decision.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a type of cosmetic treatment that helps lighten your teeth. This treatment works by removing stains and discolouration from your teeth, thanks to a bleaching gel.
The bleaching gel targets your teeth’s enamel (the hard top layer) and dentine (the main part inside your teeth). Thanks to its hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, the gel boosts your teeth’s colour and makes them appear shinier. How white your teeth lighten will depend on your situation and your dentist’s recommendation.
In-chair teeth whitening vs take-home teeth whitening
A dentist offers two main types of teeth whitening: take-home whitening kits and in-chair whitening that the dentist performs at their practice. Take a look at these two methods below:
Take-home teeth whitening
Your dentist will make some impressions of your teeth to make custom-made trays. You’ll then take these trays and some bleaching gel home to apply to your teeth as per your dentist’s directions.
You’ll often need to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes twice a day for a few weeks until you achieve your desired results. However, your dentist will give you specific instructions that suit you.
Take-home teeth whitening pros:
- You can whiten your teeth in the comforts of home (in your pyjamas if you so wish!)
- You have more control of how white your teeth become
- It costs less than in-chair teeth whitening
- You’ll have trays for future at-home treatment if desired
Take-home teeth whitening cons:
- It takes consistency and time
- You need to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully, or you may harm your teeth or gums (or not achieve your desired results)
In-chair teeth whitening
In-chair teeth whitening (also known as power bleaching) allows your dentist to use a higher concentration of bleaching gel than you’d be able to use with at-home kits.
Before they begin, your dentist will cover your gums with a rubber shield or gel. Then, they’ll apply the whitening gel to your teeth. Afterwards, your dentist will activate the gel with ultra-violet light or a laser.
In-chair whitening shows results right away and takes about one to two hours, depending on your situation.
The dentist may recommend taking home some whitening trays to follow up the treatment and boost results.
In-chair teeth whitening pros:
- It only requires one session
- You rely on a professional doing the entire treatment without you lifting a finger
In-chair teeth whitening cons:
- You may notice more tooth sensitivity following treatment compared to at-home trays
- It’s more expensive than at-home whitening
- You don’t have as much control of how white your teeth will become compared to at-home trays
What foods should I avoid after treatment?
Avoid dark staining foods and drinks for up to 48 hours after in-chair whitening; this includes (but isn’t limited to):
- red wine
- dark sauces
- most fruits.
Does teeth whitening work on crowns, fillings and veneers?
No, teeth whitening does not work on crowns, fillings, veneers, or dentures. If you decide to whiten your teeth, your dentist may need to replace any old or stained fillings or crowns.
Does teeth whitening hurt?
Teeth whitening shouldn’t hurt; however, you may experience some tooth sensitivity in the few days after your in-chair procedure.
If you find that your teeth are causing you pain, contact your dentist right away.
Is teeth whitening safe?
The first question many ask is if teeth whitening can damage your teeth or ruin the enamel. If you visit a dentist for treatment, you’re choosing the safest way to whiten your teeth. A trained, registered professional will administer the treatment in a way that doesn’t damage your gums or enamel.
However, you may experience tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks for about 48 hours after treatment. Usually, your dentist will recommend specific products, like special toothpaste and tooth mousse, to help reduce this sensitivity after the procedure.
It’s important that you do see a dentist before treatment, as they can assess your situation and recommend if teeth whitening is for you, along with any related risks.
The danger of teeth whitening with unqualified practitioners
Whenever you are considering any type of treatment, always visit a qualified practitioner. Going to unqualified practitioners could lead you to experience permanent damage to your teeth and gums, risking:
- chemical burns on your gums, like blistering
- uneven whitening results.
Also, keep in mind that if you don’t follow your dentist’s instructions for at-home whitening kits, you could damage your teeth and gums.
When can’t I get teeth whitening?
The dentist may not recommend teeth whitening if you:
- have sensitive teeth
- have damaged or exposed dentine in your teeth
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- have gum disease
- have gum shrinkage.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening, depending on your habits (i.e. drinking, diet, smoking), can last up to about two years.
To help prolong results, ensure you visit the dentist regularly and follow a good oral hygiene routine at home. You can always see your dentist for touch-ups when needed; your dentist will recommend how often you should do this.
How much does teeth whitening cost?
To find out how much teeth whitening may cost, ensure you ask your dentist for a quote during your consultation. Treatment is often cheaper with at-home trays than in-chair whitening; but the former can take longer to achieve your desired results.
What’s more, an extras health insurance policy may help cover some of the cost of your treatment. Be sure to check with your insurer to see they’ve included teeth whitening in your cover – and how much your policy will cover.
Other frequently asked questions
What stains my teeth or causes discolouration?
Drinks like coffee, tea and red wine can stain your teeth over time. Smoking is also a known perpetrator, as well as certain antibiotics (tetracycline) when your teeth are forming as a child.
As we age, our teeth also naturally turn more yellow and darker. Whatever the cause, chatting to your dentist will help you find the treatment most suited to your situation and budget.
What are some alternatives to teeth whitening?
To help keep your teeth whiter, you should visit your dentist regularly for a clean to keep stains from forming or becoming worse. Your dentist will also recommend new fillings or crowns if yours are old, stained or cracked.
You may also consider veneers to help transform your smile; these are thin, porcelain coverings that your dentist will bond to the front of your teeth.
Is DIY teeth whitening bad for my teeth?
Natural ingredients, like baking soda or lemon juice, often circulate as at-home teeth-whitening remedies. However, these ingredients are very acidic and abrasive and can cause enamel breakdown.
Activated charcoal is another popular DIY method; this can help remove some surface stains on your teeth caused by tea or coffee. Like baking soda, charcoal can wear down your enamel and cause gum irritation and tooth damage.
Find out if teeth whitening is suitable for you today!
Call our practice today to book a teeth whitening consultation! So, why wait any longer for a smile worth smiling about?