When carried out professionally, teeth whitening can help to boost your smile and give you long lasting results. Unfortunately, there are many over the counter and illegal whitening products that are easily available, which can cause pain and problems.
How does teeth whitening work?
The most common method of professional teeth whitening is by having custom fit whitening trays made. To do this, your dentist can either take an impression or a digital scan of your teeth, and a dental technician will then fabricate your trays.
Your dentist then provides you with a whitening kit, which will contain syringes of professional whitening gel. This will either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These products are only licensed for prescription by dental professionals and is not present in over the counter kits you might find in the supermarket!
Depending on the product provided, your dentist will give you instructions on how to use the gel inside the custom fit trays. Typically, you will be advised to wear the trays overnight or for a few hours in the day, preferably for 2 weeks to start with.
The mechanism for teeth whitening involves a complex chemical reaction, but simply put, the whitening gel infiltrates into the enamel and dentine layers of the teeth and causes the breakdown of colour-containing molecules. This results in the whitening and brightening effect over time.
Are there any side effects to tooth whitening?
Professional teeth whitening is safe and effective, and there are plenty of long term studies which show how effective it can be. The most common side effect is temporary sensitivity. Research suggests that 50% of people encounter mild sensitivity during the teeth whitening phase, and this settles down after the treatment is finished. Many professional whitening gels will contain a desensitising agent, which will help to make the treatment as comfortable as possible for you.
If your whitening trays do not produce a tight seal around your gums, the whitening gel can spill out of the trays. This can cause temporary trauma to the gums, which typically heals within a couple of days. Your dentist will check to ensure your whitening trays fit well and will instruct you on how much gel to use per application.
Things to consider
Professional teeth whitening will only have an effect on natural tooth tissue. This means if you have existing restorations on your teeth, these will not whiten. As a result, you may want to plan to upgrade any restorations after you have whitened your teeth, to ensure old restorations don’t stand out in your smile. We recommend you have a full oral health check prior to starting whitening, as any active decay or gum disease will need to be treated beforehand.
Some teeth may take longer to whiten. This could be due to deep discolouration within the teeth, for example as a result of tetracycline staining. In such cases, whitening gel will be needed to be used for a longer period of time. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your dentist.
With good oral hygiene, the results of teeth whitening can last for many years, but it is advisable to top-up your whitening occasionally to help maintain the brightness.
Smile Cliniq Recommendations
We recommend the ENLIGHTEN system and have achieved consistently excellent results for many patients.
Enlighten make fantastic whitening trays and provide us with whitening gel to order, meaning the product is fresh – which means better results! With Enlighten, you also have an in-office treatment to help ensure you achieve the shade ‘B1’ – the whitest natural shade. The Enlighten kit also includes an effective desensitising toothpaste to help minimise sensitivity!
Get in touch with us today to talk about how we can help you achieve a brighter smile!