BLEACHING or TOOTH WHITENING
What is tooth whitening ?
Tooth whitening can be a highly effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete colour change; but it will lighten the existing shade.
Why would I need my teeth to be whitened ?
There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened. Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth, and our teeth can also become more discoloured as we get older. Your teeth can also be stained on the surface through food and drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine and blackcurrant. Smoking can also stain teeth.
Calculus or tartar can also affect the colour of teeth. Some people may have staining under the surface, which can be caused by certain antibiotics or tiny cracks in the teeth which takeup stains.
What does tooth whitening involve ?
Professional bleaching is the most common form of tooth whitening. Your dentist will be able to tell you if you are suitable for the treatment, and will supervise it if you are. First the dentist will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect the soft tissue. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth.
The ‘active ingredient’ in the product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter.
How long will my teeth stay whiter ?
The effects of whitening can last anywhere from a year and half to up to three years. However, this will vary from person to person. The effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink products that can stain your teeth. Ask your dentist for their opinion before you start the treatment.
What are the side effects, if any ?
Some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. Others report discomfort in the gums, a sore throat or white patches on the gum line. These symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.
If any of these side effects continue you should go to your dentist.
What about home kits ?
Home kits are cheaper. Because tooth whitening is a complicated procedure we would advise that you always consult your dentist prior to undertaking treatment.
What about whitening toothpastes ?
There are several whitening toothpastes on the market. Although they do not affect the natural colour of your teeth, they may be effective at removing staining and therefore may improve the overall appearance of your teeth due to the abrasive properties of the paste.
We recommend that you look for accreditation symbol on the packaging of oral care products. This is a guarantee that the claims made about the product have been scientifically and clinically checked by an independent panel of experts.
When might whitening not work ?
Tooth whitening can only lighten your existing tooth colour. Also it only works on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of ‘false’ teeth such as dentures, crowns and veneers.
If your dentures are stained or discoloured visit your dentist and ask for them to be cleaned. Stained veneers, crowns or dentures may need replacing; again ask your dentist.
How can I look after my teeth once they have been whitened ?
You can help to keep your teeth white by cutting down on the amount of food and drink you have that can stain teeth. Don’t forget, stopping smoking can also help prevent discolouring and staining.
We recommend the following tips to care for your teeth :
- brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
- visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend
Dr PRACHI DESAI believes in delivering the best health care services to all individuals. She believes that every individual is special and gets their concerns addressed with utmost care. She has completed her BDS from Nair Hospital, Mumbai and her PGD from BRAID, U.K. She has an experience of more than 15 years as a dental surgeon... Dr. Prachi Desai Owner