Years of drinking coffee, tea, cola, red wine, and smoking eventually takes their toll on teeth. The results are dull, yellowish-colour teeth. Some teeth may have darker grey-coloured stains due to antibiotics. Most teeth will benefit from tooth whitening. Teeth whitening is a proven safe and effective way to brighten stained, discoloured teeth.
The Melbourne Dentist Clinic offers a variety of methods for restoring a bright white smile including porcelain veneers, composite bonding, dental implants and whitening, also known as bleaching. However, of all the advances made in dentistry to enhance the appearance of the teeth, whitening is the easiest and least invasive. The procedure is safe, simple, and more affordable than ever before. Because of these reasons and more, whitening has become very popular.
WHAT TEETH WHITENING TECHNIQUES ARE AVAILABLE?
All teeth whitening products contain peroxide either as carbamide peroxide (CP) or hydrogen peroxide (HP). Peroxide dissolves the organic stains in the tooth to change the colour and produce a whitened effect.
There are three types of peroxide-containing teeth whitening products available:
- A take-home product supervised by one of our cosmetic dentists is the most popular teeth whitening method. These products contain a lesser percentage of CP or HP than in-practice products and are worn in a tray overnight or during the day at home. A custom-fitted tray is made to hold the teeth whitening product directly against the teeth while lessening its contact with the gums. Some products have fluoride added to help prevent or treat mild tooth sensitivities. The typical stains of ageing will whiten in seven to fourteen days when the tray is worn overnight.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products contain a small percentage of HP or CP. Caution should be used with these products as many contain an acidic solution that can wear away tooth enamel. OTC products use a bulky, one-size-fits-all tray to hold the product. Usually more product is swallowed than stays in the tray because of the trays poor fit against the teeth. It can take up to six months and the purchase of several kits to get whiter teeth. Flexible strips coated with whitening gel have recently been introduced as an OTC at-home teeth whitening method. The strips are worn on the front teeth and folded over to keep them in place. Results are reported to be noticeable after fourteen days and effective for 6 months.
- Over-the-counter teeth whitening toothpastes contain a small percentage of HP, CP, or polishing ingredient. The toothpastes are effective in keeping teeth cleaner and whiter looking but some may be very abrasive. The harsh abrasive will wear away the enamel with repeated use gradually making the teeth look yellow. Teeth whitening toothpastes remove surface stains and prevent new stains from building up. Teeth whitening toothpastes however aren’t in contact with the teeth long enough to remove internal stains. Ask our cosmetic dentists about the safety and cavity protection of specific toothpastes before you buy.
HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE A TEETH WHITENING TECHNIQUE?
It is highly advisable to inform our cosmetic dentists about your goals regarding teeth whitening. They can advise you about the most suitable method for you and also outline the procedure, likely results, side effects and address any questions you may have.
HOW DOES TEETH WHITENING WORK?
The whitening gel is usually hydrogen or carbamide peroxide that breaks down into oxygen molecules. These molecules go into the tiny pores of the enamel and dentin and break up the stains that block out the light. More light passes through the teeth and makes them look lighter as the stains are broken into smaller and smaller pieces. Stains that are accumulated over time that are yellow to slightly brown produce the best results. Teeth that are dark brown to blue-grey are the most difficult to whiten because the stain is deeply embedded in the structure of the tooth. These types of stains are usually caused by medications taken during the development of the teeth such as tetracycline and can take a minimum of three weeks to see results and as much as six months for complete results.
Results can be seen within an hour, overnight or within three to four days depending on the teeth whitening gel used and the length of time it is worn. Complete results can be achieved in as little as a week or as much as several months depending on the source of the stain and the ability of the teeth or tooth to be whitened. The teeth whitening procedure may last for up to three years and even longer in some cases depending on personal habits. A simple process of whitening for one or two nights with a single gel syringe is usually sufficient to brighten the color again.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON THE FIRST APPOINTMENT?
You will be able to talk with our cosmetic dentists about the changes you would like to make in your appearance at the first visit with your dentist. Our cosmetic dentists will explain the different options available to you, the procedure itself, and its risks and limitations.
Our cosmetic dentists will begin with a complete medical history and examine your teeth. They may also take photos or x-rays and give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Any large cavities may need to be addressed before teeth whitening can begin. Take this opportunity to ask all the questions you have about the procedure. Learning everything you can about your options, risks and benefits is the key to making an informed decision.
HOW ARE THE TREATMENTS PERFORMED?
Take-home whitening is performed at home under the indirect supervision of our cosmetic dentists. The cosmetic dentist takes impressions of the patient’s teeth and then creates a perfectly fitted tray at the first appointment. This tray will allow the patient to apply a teeth whitening solution to the teeth while protecting the rest of the mouth from contact with the whitening chemicals.
It is contact with the teeth that causes the gel to release oxygen. Take-home teeth whitening in most cases can take from two to six weeks to achieve maximum results. The cosmetic dentist during this time may want to check the progress of the treatment.
HOW MUCH PAIN IS INVOLVED?
The amount of discomfort experienced varies from person to person and depends on the method used. Most adults usually experience little if any discomfort. An over-the-counter anti-inflammatory may help in the case of some discomfort. Consult our cosmetic dentists for more options if the discomfort lasts for more than 2 to 3 days.
Decreasing the sensitivity may be as easy as placing a gel fluoride under your dentist’s instruction in your teeth whitening tray for an hour or so. Other materials may be used to address the sensitivity you may experience. Check with our cosmetic dentists for the best options for your particular needs.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER TEETH WHITENING?
The results of teeth whitening vary but most people are happy with the results. Patients should avoid foods that stain such as tobacco and red wine for about a week after any teeth whitening treatment. Keeping teeth clean with flossing and brushing can maintain whiteness. Teeth whitening lasts on average about 1 to 3 years. Teeth whitening may last even longer if you are not a regular tobacco user and do not eat many foods that are known to stain teeth.
HOW LONG WILL THE TEETH WHITENING RESULTS LAST?
The effects of the teeth whitening should last for 1 to 3 years. Daily brushing and flossing will assist in maintaining the whiteness. The duration of the whiteness will also depend on your personal habits. Drinking red wine, tea, coffee or smoking will shorten the life of the new whiteness. You may want to conduct a re-treatment in the future. This should not be as costly and time consuming as the original teeth whitening procedure as you will already have the custom made trays.
TEETH WHITENING VIDEO
If you would like to make an appointment to discuss teeth whitening please call (03) 9999 9703 to schedule an appointment at the Melbourne Dentist Clinic.