What is it?
Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look.
Things have changed quite a bit over the last 2 years when it comes to brightening your smile! Laser tooth whitening has almost become a thing of the past, changes to the law limit the amount of hydrogen perioxide to 6% and now only we as dentists can dispense this to you.
For patients this means the safest and most effective way to whiten your smile is to use a home whitening kit, with specially made trays to deliver the whitening gel to the right areas and protect the delicate areas of your mouth (tissues). Here at Cork Dental Clinic we still use the ZOOM system for certain cases but mostly provide the at home teeth whitening kits for patients.
Why Whiten Teeth?
Your smile can make a huge difference to your confidence and self-esteem. As we get older, our teeth naturally darken and this can be affected by various factors, however this process can be accelerated with staining foods and drinks. Over time you may feel that your teeth are not as bright as they used to be and after undergoing a cleaning to remove any stains on the outside of your teeth, it may be suitable for you to brighten your smile by using a specially designed Home Whitening Kit.
How Does it Work?
Home teeth whitening is an easy, non-invasive, cosmetic treatment which produces beautiful results. Specially designed trays are made to deliver a specially formulated whitening gel to remove stains that have built up over years. This has been proven to have no long term negative effects on the enamel of teeth, on the dentine of teeth or the gums.
What It’s Used For?
The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentine under it. Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentine to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel also affects the reflection of light and therefore the colour.
Every day, a thin coating (pellicle) forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains. The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are:
- Using tobacco
- Drinking dark-coloured liquids such as coffee, fizzy drinks, tea and red wine
- Not taking good care of your teeth
- Ageing also makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentine becomes darker.
It is also possible to have stains inside the tooth. These are called intrinsic stains. For example, intrinsic stains can be caused by exposure to too much fluoride as a child while teeth are developing. Other causes include tetracycline antibiotics. They can stain a child’s teeth if taken by a mother during the second half of pregnancy or by a child who is 8 years old or younger. Teeth are still developing during these years. Trauma may also darken a tooth.
Tooth whitening is most effective on surface (extrinsic) stains.
Frequently Asked Questions
How quick will I see the results?
Some people get the result they want after 1 session, while most people see results from the whitening procedure within a couple of days.
How white will my teeth go?
This is case dependent, depending on a number of factors such as age, smoking status etc. We expect an improvement of 4-5 shades from the treatment.
Does it hurt?
80% of people will get some form of sensitivity with teeth whitening. This is usually mild and normally resolves within 48 hours. The whitening gel we use helps to open up thousands of tiny ‘tubes’ in the enamel, which in turn allows cold to enter the tooth more easily. After teeth whitening treatment, it takes about 24 hours for these tubes to close and during this time people may have some sensitivity to cold foods/drinks. We recommend using a sensitive toothpaste during and immediately after the whitening period.
Is it damaging to my teeth?
NO! As long as the correct instructions are followed under the guidance of your dentist it is perfectly safe and won’t damage teeth or soft tissues.
How long will the results last?
Results will generally last for 1 to 2 years, sometimes longer. This will vary due to lifestyle (e.g. drinking lots of tea or coffee), wear and tear and ageing. The idea of a home whitening system is that if you feel the teeth have become darker over a period of time, then the effect can be improved again by using the kit from time to time. We recommend a ‘top up’ once or twice a year.
Will the gel whiten fillings, crowns, veneers or false teeth?
No. The procedure will only remove staining from natural teeth. We recommend that bleaching is done prior to fillings, crowns and bridges at the front of your mouth so that the correct shade match can be completed then.
Will I have to stop drinking tea/coffee etc?
During whitening, try avoid staining foods and drinks like red wine, tea, coffee, tomato based sauces, curry based sauces etc. If it would stain your clothes then it may stain your teeth.
What if I smoke?
We recommend to all of our patients that you cease smoking for numerous health reasons. Smoking is not a contraindication to whitening but it does impact the initial results and will cause relapse. We recommend that you should cease smoking to get the best long-term results.