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  • David O'Malley

All you every wanted to know about Teeth Whitening and were too shy to ask

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TOOTH WHITENING




Q. WHAT IS TOOTH WHITENING?


Tooth whitening is a procedure designed to lighten the colour of your teeth without the need to remove any tooth tissue, so it is a conservative way to make your teeth whiter and it is a very popular cosmetic treatment.


Q. TYPES OF TOOTH WHITENING TREATMENTS?


Home Whitening


A gel containing carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide is placed in some specially made whitening trays that fit over your teeth. The trays are worn for approximately 2 hours a day for 2-4 weeks.


In Surgery whitening.


A hydrogen peroxide based gel is placed on your teeth in the surgery and a specially designed laser is used to whiten the teeth in surgery. This process takes about 60 minutes and is designed to give more immediate results. It needs to be used in conjunction with a home whitening kit for the best long-term results.


Q. HOW DOES TOOTH WHITENING WORK?


The active ingredient in tooth whitening gel is carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. This breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, urea and then water and oxygen. The oxygen that is absorbed into the tooth and this sets off a chemical reaction that breaks apart the staining chemicals and the teeth whiten.


Q. IS TOOTH WHITENING SAFE?


Research indicates that using peroxide to bleach teeth is safe as the byproducts are urea, water, and oxygen. There is new research indicating the safety for use on the soft tissues (gum, cheek, tongue, and throat).

It is a very common treatment as it is a safe and conservative way to lighten the teeth because no tooth tissue is being removed.


Q. WILL ALL MY TEETH WHITEN?


Tooth whitening treatment will not work on surface staining, white and silver fillings, crowns and veneers. If you have multiple colourations, bands or spots due to tetracycline staining you may need multiple treatments or they may not whiten at all. It is worth noting that any white spot that you have on your teeth before bleaching will appear brighter at first, this will settle down as your teeth around the white spot catch up.


The area of tooth near the gum line may not whiten as much especially if the gum has receded. This is not due to the whitening gel not reaching this area, as commonly thought by patients, but is because the enamel here is thinner or not present at all. It is the enamel that the whitening process acts on.



Q. CAN ANYONE WHITEN THEIR TEETH?


There is no upper age limit. There is no evidence to say whitening is not safe during pregnancy however, it may be wiser to postpone whitening until after the birth of the baby.


Your mouth must be healthy before you have your teeth whitened as the gel would cause pain if it were exposed to tooth decay. Therefore, you will need to have a thorough examination to ensure that there is no evidence of gum disease or decay. Any crowns, veneers, white filling would need to be noted so that you were made aware that these would not change colour. In addition any type of stubborn discolouration that would not respond as expected.


Q. HOW MANY APPOINTMENTS WILL I NEED?


We typically schedule 3 appointments.


Appointment 1.

An initial assessment will be carried out and impressions (molds) or digital scans of your teeth are taken so special bespoke whitening trays can be made for you in our on-site lab.


Appointment 2.

A start shade and photographs will be taken, your bleaching trays will be fitted and a demonstration will be done to show you how to apply the bleaching gel.


Appointment 3.

This is a review appointment to ensure that you are happy with the progress of the whitening treatment. A final shade will be recorded and photographs taken


Q. DO I HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WHAT I EAT AND DRINK?


You must not eat and drink when you are wearing your bleaching trays (only 2 hours). It is advised to avoid highly coloured foods and drinks e.g. red wine, saffron, turmeric, strong tea and coffee. It is also advisable not to smoke (always ;-)).


Q. HOW DO I CLEAN MY BLEACHING TRAYS?


After you have removed your trays rinse them under running water and scrub them with your tooth brush and some liquid soap.


Q. HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY TEETH WHILST I AM BLEACHING THEM?


It is very important to ensure your oral hygiene is kept to a high standard brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth once a day. After you have removed your trays rinse your mouth with water and avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes -1 hour


Q. HOW LONG WILL THE EFFECTS OF TOOTH WHITENING LAST?


Colour stability varies; you may want a top up of one week at home bleaching once a year. Additional syringes of bleach can be purchased. An examination appointment with the dentist will needed so that the fit of your trays can be checked and a further bleaching course prescribed. At present take home whitening with bespoke trays and bleaching syringes are $295, top up gels cost $80 for a set of four.



Q. HOW WHITE WILL MY TEETH GO?


Normally teeth will lighten by a few shades, there are a number of factors which will influence the end shade e.g. nature of the discolouration, age, diet, length of time agent is used etc.

Generally teeth can get to the shade they were when you were a teenager.


Q. ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?


Sensitivity is a common side effect. This is rarely permanent and can be managed with sensitive toothpaste. If it is problematic is advisable to take a break from bleaching for a few days.

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