Tooth whitening is the number one cosmetic dental treatment worldwide. It is a simple, safe and effective method of creating a whiter and brighter smile.
Teeth are stained by the foods and drinks we consume. Smoking further stains teeth and the natural bright, white shade becomes darkened. Tooth whitening entails the use of bleaching agents on the teeth to lighten the shade of the teeth. The process is applied in a controlled manner and can be used to accurately achieve a desired shade. Some people want a quick lift for a special occasion. Others prefer a gentle lightening of their shade to a natural lighter colour while some want to achieve the perfect white smile. All through the process, your dentist and you will be in control of the treatment and can work towards the desired effects.
After an initial consultation to check that your teeth and gums are healthy and suitable for teeth whitening, we will explain the options available and, having measured the current shade using a shade guide, we will show you how white we would expect the teeth to look after treatment. Having established your preferences, we will then be able to advise you on the best way of achieving the results you wish for.
This is an in-surgery procedure whereby whitening gel is applied to your teeth by your dentist, hygienist or dental therapist and activated by a clinically approved laser light. A single session takes less than one hour and is the fastest way to whiten your teeth.
The whitening process commences with the making of custom made mouth trays (upper and lower) by your dentist.
First of all, impressions are taken from which a study model is made.
This is painted with a special material which increases the thickness of the tooth area.
When the tray is prepared, a small pocket is produced. The whitening solution occupies this pocket, ensuring that it only comes into contact with the required surfaces and that no damage is done to the soft gums.
A whitening gel is placed in the tray which you then wear whilst asleep or for short periods during the day.
The take-home kit contains a month’s supply of whitening gel and results are normally seen over 2-4 weeks.
The whitening trays can then be re-used at a later stage, with supplies of whitening gel available to purchase in either kit form or top-up syringes.
This is a combination of the laser whitening and at home options, allowing you to continue to whiten your teeth beyond the shades achievable via a single course of treatment.
Some patients aren’t always sure just how white they want their teeth to be when they come to us for laser whitening, but want the option to continue with at-home bleaching without incurring the expense of another in-surgery session to make the custom whitening trays. We therefore offer the option to have the custom trays made during the laser whitening session, allowing you to purchase whitening gel separately as and when you wish to go further.
We also supply tooth whitening pens allowing you to quickly and easily perform ‘top-up’ treatments following previous whitening treatment.
Teeth whitening gel typically contains some form of bleach, specifically peroxide. This is the same type of bleach used to dye hair, but in a much lower, and safer, concentration. Tooth whitening solutions based on abrasive substances such as baking soda should only ever be used with caution, since over-use can permanently damage the protective enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.
Not everyone’s teeth are suitable for whitening. If your teeth and gums are not in a healthy condition before you whiten, the procedure may cause more damage. Even if there is nothing wrong with your teeth there may be other reasons why whitening won‘t work.
The General Dental Council (GDC) classifies tooth whitening as dentistry, and so says it is illegal for anyone not registered with the GDC to perform the procedure. It has received multiple complaints about whitening procedures performed in salons and clinics by beauty therapists. Whilst staining may be limited to the surface of the teeth, it can also be caused by more significant problems such as decay or infection within a tooth, so it is therefore important that a dentist checks that you are ‘dentally fit’ for whitening treatment.
It is also vitally important that the product used is of an approved compound and strength, since some use acid that get the whitening effect by etching the teeth, damaging the protective enamel and accelerating the staining effect thereafter. Non-custom mouth trays can also leave your gums exposed to the whitening agent, with potential to burn the soft tissue, leading to irreversible gum recession, exposing the root of the tooth and causing sensitivity.
It is important to note that the shade of any existing crowns, veneers or dentures willnot change as a result of tooth whitening, so if they match your teeth now, they won’t afterwards! If on the other hand your teeth have become stained since, tooth whitening will restore your smile. Your dentist will discuss your options when carrying out an initial assessment for whitening.
A temporary increase in tooth sensitivity is not uncommon, but typically disappears within 1 to 3 days of stopping or completing treatment. Some patients who have experienced sensitivity from at-home whitening have found in-surgery laser whitening to be more comfortable.
On average you can expect to have whiter teeth for 6 to 9 months after teeth whitening, but this will vary from person to person. If your stains have appeared from over-consumption of tea, coffee, wine or tobacco and you continue at the same levels, you may find the stains will return sooner. Good oral hygiene will help prevent teeth staining, keep your teeth healthy and prolong the effect of the teeth whitening.
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