In the right situation, where enamel has darkened due to the natural aging process, tooth whitening can be very effective at refreshing the smile. Simply put, it involves placing a bleaching gel on the teeth for a specified time at specified intervals. The higher the percentage of bleach, the less time it needs to be on the teeth to be effective, but the higher chance there will be of gum irritation or tooth sensitivity. There are essentially 2 ways you can approach typical tooth whitening
- At home tooth whitening. This involved having some bleaching trays made which fit comfortably around your teeth. The bleaching gel is placed in the trays, and the trays worn for a specified time (depends on brand and concentration) each day for 10-14 days. Over this period of time, the teeth will gradually become whiter.
- In office tooth whitening. This involves sitting in a dental chair for usually a little over an hour. A very high concentration of bleaching gel is placed on your teeth during this time, changing the gel at regular intervals. After the hour, the treatment is complete. Though it is only one sitting, the high concentration of bleach can cause more intense sensitivity, which should resolve over a few days. It is done in the dental chair because the high concentration of bleach can cause severe chemical burns to the gums if not protected and supervised adequately.
While tooth whitening can make a big difference in the right case, not every discoloured tooth will respond the same. It is important that you and your dentist consider together the cause of the discolouration and likelihood of improvement prior to commencing treatment.
Another important consideration is any visible fillings, veneers, or crowns you may have had done previously. While the natural enamel will lighten, fillings, crowns and veneers will not, and they may look more obvious afterwards, requiring replacement.
Whitening should also follow a recent professional clean and should not be done where there is active decay, as this can be very uncomfortable and irritate the exposed nerve in the tooth.
If you would like to whiten your teeth, or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on