What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that involves the use of mild bleaching materials to gently lighten the colour of your teeth.
At Sherwood Park Dental we offer two different types of whitening – a power whitening system with use of an active laser light Zoom! done in the dental chair , or a take home whitening system which allows tooth whitening to be carried out safely and effectively in the privacy of your home.
How does it work?
The active ingredients in dental whitening products is usually either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Both the in-chair (Zoom!) and at-home systems work in essentially the same way. After the gel is applied to the surface of the teeth, the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour becomes lighter.
With the Zoom system, a strong laser is shone on the teeth to speed up the chemical reaction of the whitening product. The procedure takes about an hour to one and a half hours and can make your teeth up to five shades lighter.
With the at-home system, you will be provided with plastic trays moulded to the shape of your teeth. A small amount of Whitening gel is placed in the trays and the trays are then placed in your mouth for up to an hour a day or overnight as prescribed. The at-home system usually takes between ten days to three weeks
For either system the plastic tray moulds are recommended as whitening may need to be topped up at home in the future.
Are there any side affects?
Teeth whitening is a completely safe and harmless procedure as long as it is carried out under the supervision of your dentist. The typical course of treatment has the same effect on teeth as drinking a glass of cola.
Sensitivity during or a few days after treatment is the most commonly reported side effect. However, we have found that it quickly disappears and is usually fully reversible. For those patients’ susceptible to sensitivity a special fluoride toothpaste will be prescribed alongside treatment to control sensitivity and ensure comfort throughout
What causes teeth to go yellow?
The most common causes of tooth discolouration are drinks such as red wine, coffee and tea, food such as curry, and smoking.
Discolouration penetrates the surface of the tooth so brushing alone will never restore your teeth to their original colour.
Other types of discolouration such as that caused by tetracycline medication and other certain types of staining may not respond well to dental whitening procedures so your dentist will ensure they have looked at your particular discolouration before they recommend this treatment.
How is it different from an over-the-counter whitening kit or whitening provided by my beautician or "whitening therapist"?
Many over-the-counter kits are dangerous because they contain acids and are abrasive. Teeth whitening toothpastes are less abrasive and may remove some superficial stains, but they will never affect the shade of your teeth.
Whitening carried out by a non-dental professional (such as by beauticians or "whitening therapists") is risky and unsafe. It's paramount that your teeth and gums are in a healthy state before any whitening treatment is performed, and only your dentist is able to carry out these checks. For example, if conditions such as open decay or erosion lesions are not caught and dealt with, it can result in severe sensitivity and in the worst case devitalisation (nerve damage) of teeth.
In addition, non-dental professionals may not be familiar with the different kinds of whitening products, what they contain and how they can affect your teeth and gums. They may not be familiar with safety procedures in protecting soft tissues when performing whitening treatments.
Finally, whilst treatments carried out by beauticians or "whitening therapists" may initially give what appears to be a good result, if they haven't used the right materials or proper procedures then the fade back may be very quick and you would likely need to keep topping up every couple of months.
Teeth whitening is not a simple procedure, and should only be carried out under the supervision of your dentist after a thorough checkup.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Depending on your diet, smoking habits, oral hygiene and other factors, teeth whitening lasts an average of a year and a half, after which some patients request a top-up.
In some specific cases a tooth that has “died” due to a history of trauma for example may discolour and under certain conditions internal bleaching of the tooth can be carried out to lighten the tooth from within without having to remove any tooth tissue for a veneer/ crown.
If you have a tooth that has discoloured and you want to see if this treatment is suitable for you please ask one of our dentists for more information at your next visit.