Of all the cosmetic dentistry procedures out there, none is easier or more cost-effective than teeth whitening when it comes to drastically improving your appearance. Whiter teeth have been proven to boost your self-confidence, making you eager to share your smile more. This makes you appear more friendly which will affect your work and personal relationships in a positive manner.
Teeth whitening removes yellowish, dull stains on your teeth that come with drinking coffee, tea, soda, alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Even if you don't do any of those things with regularity, your teeth can still lose their pearly white shine naturally with age. Antibiotics can also turn your teeth a grayish color, making teeth whitening a simple way to get your dazzling smile back without hassle.
At the Sydney Dentist Clinic, we offer a wide array of products and procedure that will have your teeth shining white and bright:
- Bleaching and teeth whitening gels
- Composite bonding
- Dental implants
- Porcelain veneers
By far, the bleaching method is the least invasive, safest and most cost-effective way to go, especially since you can do most of the treatments in your own home, on your own time.
The Most Popular Teeth Whitening Techniques
When most people think of modern teeth whitening, they are thinking of the products that contain peroxide as a bleaching agent. The two most popular peroxides in bleaching agents are carbamide peroxide (CP) and hydrogen peroxide (HP). Peroxide is used because it organically dissolves the stains and discoloration on your tooth, leaving your teeth brighter, whiter and stain free.
In general, there are three types of teeth whitening products that are extremely popular:
- The most effective teeth whitening product is done in your dentist's office and contains higher levels of CP and HP. Since these higher levels whiten your teeth faster, they must be supervised by a trained cosmetic dentist or oral hygienist.
- The most popular form of teeth whitening is started in your dentist office but then continued at home by you. Called a “take home” teeth whitener, the first application is performed in office so that you learn how to do it properly. Then, you continue the treatments for two to three weeks at home on your own. There are lower levels of CP and HP in these whiteners, making them safe for use by anyone. They work with custom fitted trays that are filled with the bleaching substance and worn overnight or for a few hours while you are awake. The tray holds the bleaching agent flush on the teeth without hitting the gums. Fluoride is typically added to prevent teeth from becoming sensitive.
- Finally, the least effective method of teeth whitening is with over the counter teeth whitening products. These whiteners have the lowest amount of CP and HP possible. This makes it much harder to use incorrectly, but also highly ineffective. Further, these products contain an acidic solution that breaks down tooth enamel, causing problems down the line. The trays are not custom fit so they don't hold the whitening agent flush to the teeth and can harm your gums. These products take 6 to 8 months to get results and you have to buy multiple kits. You can also purchase whitening strips which are worn directly on the teeth using adhesive—these have been shown to be slightly more effective than the OTC tray models of teeth whiteners.
Choosing the best teeth whitening product for your needs is something that you should discuss with a dentist. They are knowledgeable in all types of cosmetic dentistry, including over the counter teeth whitening products. They will be able to assess your current oral health, your needs and recommend the product that will be best for you.
What Happens During Teeth Whitening?
As mentioned above, the CP or HP is the bleaching agent that actually does the teeth whitening. When you or your dentist applies a tooth whitening product to your teeth, the following happens:
- The bleaching agent breaks down into oxygen molecules which are able to enter the miniscule pores in your tooth enamel and dentin
- As the oxygen molecules penetrate the stains through the pores in your enamel, not only are the yellow marks slowly removed, but more light is able to pass into the tooth
- Thanks to the light passing through the now-removed stains, your teeth look lighter
- The more you use the teeth whitener, the more the stains will break down and the more light will pass onto your teeth, making them whiter and brighter
Tooth Whitening Video
It's important to keep in mind that yellow and light brown stains which are the result of years of neglect and abuse are the most responsive to teeth whiteners. If the stains are darker brown or are quick forming bluish gray stains (mostly the result of medications such as tetracycline), they are embedded deep within the tooth, thus making it harder to remove.
How Long Does Teeth Whitening Take to See Results?
Depending on the extent of your staining and discoloration as well as the type of teeth whitening procedure you use, results can be as quick as an hour or take as long as six months. Generally speaking, the quickest results come from visiting a dentist, where a few hours is the typical length of time it takes to notice whiter teeth. For some, it might take overnight or a week to see the results.
For more extensively stained teeth, it could take a few years to get the results you want. The ability for the tooth to be whitened also plays a factor. This is why it's important to get a consultation before starting your teeth whitening—a dentist can give you a solid time frame as well as keep you from wasting your time if teeth whitening is not a good option for you.
What is a Teeth Whitening Consultation?
During your first visit with a teeth whitening specialist here at Sydney Dentist Clinic, one of our knowledgeable dental hygienists or cosmetic dentists will sit down with you and discuss your options. You will go over things like:
- Your ideal shade of whiteness
- How you would like to proceed
- What is the best way to proceed
- Your timetable and budget
- The options available to you
- Any risks or limitations to expect
After you talk and have all of your questions answered, the dentist will give you a quick examination, taking photos and x-rays as needed to thoroughly assess your teeth for maximum results. If you have any oral health issues such as lesions or cavities, these might need to be taken care of before you begin whitening your teeth. If you're given the go ahead, you can even begin your first tooth whitening session right then and there.
For take home teeth whitening, the first application may be performed in the office or you might just be supervised indirectly. The dentist will take impressions of your teeth to create a fully custom-fit whitening tray for you to use at home. Then, all you have to do is apply the specified amount through the tray application and check in with your dentist at the set intervals he or she gives you. In two to six weeks, you will reach your maximum whitening level.
Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?
When done under the care and supervision of a dentist, any discomfort you feel will be minimal because the whitening tray is custom-fit. If you use OTC generic trays, you might need to use an OTC NSAID such as Motrin to alleviate discomfort caused. If any discomfort lasts more than three days, see your dentist immediately.
Because whitening agents can cause tooth sensitivity, fluoride is often added to your tray or given in the office. A dentist will be able to make sure that you have no side effects and no pain or discomfort while whitening your teeth.
What Happens After Teeth Whitening?
After you whiten your teeth, you should stay away from the things that stained your teeth in the first place such as smoking and coffee. Keep your teeth clean and practice good oral hygiene and your teeth should stay as bright as they are for one to three years—longer if you cut out smoking and other tooth-staining habits.
To find out more about teeth whitening, call (02) 8279 2282 or book an appointment online with Sydney Dentist Clinic to get a teeth whitening consultation.