Our teeth get discoloured over time especially if we consume coffee, tea and red wine. We can reverse this by applying a special gel to our teeth and leaving it to bleach or whiten over time. This can be done at home using a custom-made mouthguard. The effects are usually seen after 2 weeks. Alternatively, it can be done in the clinic using a laser or blue LED light or laser over one or two sessions, each lasting an hour or less. Laser teeth whitening takes the least time to achieve a satisfactory result. If the stains are very deep or dark, porcelain or zirconia veneers or crowns may be required.
Types of Teeth Whitening
Laser Teeth Whitening
Laser teeth whitening uses a special amplified light which can quicken the speed at which your teeth can be whitened, when compared to chair-side whitening using ordinary LED blue light. Both these methods are more effective and less time-consuming than using a home kit. The surrounding gums are first covered and a concentrated bleaching gel applied to teeth that are to be whitened. The light or laser is then applied for around an hour to achieve the desired new shade. Laser teeth whitening is thus the most effective of the 3 methods available.
Home Whitening Kits
Home whitening kits can also be used to whiten teeth. However, for safety reasons, the concentration of the gel is usually much less thereby prolonging the amount of time needed to achieve a satisfactory result. It usually takes up to 2 weeks to achieve the desired effect and is suitable when the teeth are not excessively stained. Home whitening kits are also beneficial when used in conjunction with conventional LED or laser teeth whitening procedures to maintain the effect for a longer period of time. The main benefit is the much lower cost.
What to expect in the clinic during treatment
In general it is painless.
A protective layer of plastic is first placed over the gums as the chemicals used can irritate the gums.
A bleaching gel, typically hydrogen peroxide is then placed on the tooth.
A light is then used to quicken the reaction.
At Precious Dentistry, we use a special light known as a laser which speeds up the reaction and is more gentle on the tooth making it faster and less uncomfortable. However, some patients may feel some sensitivity or a tingling sensation, in which case the treatment can be divided over two visits.
Things to Avoid immediately after treatment
Coloured foods and sauces - beetroot and curries
Coloured fruits - blueberries and tomatoes
Drinks which stain teeth - coffee, tea and red wine
Mouthrinses which contain the chemical chlorhexidine
While teeth will slowly darken over time, you can prolong the effect of teeth whitening through the following measures:
Good oral hygiene - brush your teeth at least twice a day and use dental floss to clean between teeth
Use of home-care kits or teeth whitening toothpastes
Return to the dentist for regular check-ups and teeth cleaning
Return for a short session of whitening periodically, if you consume lots of coffee, tea or red wine.
Limitations of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is a fairly effective and cost-effective way of lightening our teeth. However, while some stains are superficial, others may affect the entire body of the tooth and have a deep discolouration which cannot be removed either by conventional cleaning or tooth whitening procedures. In such cases, we would need to remove the outer discoloured layer and replace it with a new outer "shell" termed a veneer. If the stains are very dark, even porcelain may be unable to mask the underlying colour and a more opaque but still aesthetic material, Zirconia, may be required.