Teeth whitening is a safe and proven way to brighten your smile and boost your confidence. It is one of the most popular dental procedures as it is a fast, easy and inexpensive solution for improving your smile and dramatically enhancing your appearance.
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Teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure that helps to lighten teeth by removing stains and discolouration. All teeth whitening products contain peroxide, either as carbamide peroxide (CP) or hydrogen peroxide (HP).
You can whiten your teeth at home with an over-the-counter treatment, but you will achieve better results by visiting one of our approved dentists, as their treatments typically contain a higher percentage of peroxide and are less abrasive, leading to more effective results without damaging your tooth enamel.
Dull, yellow and even dark grey stained teeth can be the result of many everyday factors, including:
If you have spent years smoking or are an avid coffee drinker, chances are your smile is not as white as it used to be.
The best candidates for teeth whitening are:
This is only a partial list of the criteria that cosmetic dentists will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you, and it may also depend on your individual circumstances.
There are four types of peroxide-containing teeth whitening products available.
In-practice products are applied by a dental professional. These products contain a high percentage of peroxide and are applied directly to the teeth, sometimes activated by heat, light, or laser. If you are wanting fast results and you don’t have tooth sensitivity, this may be the best option for you.
A take-home product supervised by a cosmetic dentist is the most popular teeth-whitening method. These products contain a lower percentage of peroxide than in-practice products and can be worn in a tray overnight or during the day at home.
A custom-fitted tray is made to hold the teeth whitening product directly against the teeth while minimising its contact with the gums. Some products have fluoride added to help prevent or treat mild tooth sensitivities. The typical stains of ageing will whiten in 7-14 days when the tray is worn overnight.
Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products contain a small percentage of peroxide. A lot of these products contain an acidic solution that can damage tooth enamel, so they should always be used with caution.
These products use a bulky, one-size-fits-all tray to hold the product, providing a poor fit against the teeth and resulting in inferior results. It can take up to six months and the purchase of several kits to see real results with these OTC products.
The risks involved and time needed for results with these products makes whitening by a professional dentist the safer and more effective option.
Over-the-counter teeth-whitening toothpastes also contain a small percentage of peroxide or a polishing ingredient. The toothpastes are effective in removing surface stains and whitening teeth, but some can be very abrasive.
With repeated use, the harsh abrasive will gradually wear away the enamel and make the teeth look yellow. Cosmetic dentists can advise you about the safety and cavity protection of specific toothpastes before you make a purchase.
The peroxide in teeth-whitening products dissolves the organic stains in the tooth to change the colour and produce a whitened effect. This is achieved by entering the tiny pores of the enamel and dentin and breaking up the stains that block out light. More light passes through the teeth and makes them look lighter as the stains are broken into smaller and smaller pieces.
In-practice procedures are more effective as they can remove internal stains, whereas over-the-counter options are only able to remove surface stains.
The price of teeth whitening depends on your individual circumstances and the desired results. You may require just one treatment or several depending on your situation.
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After teeth whitening, it is advised that you avoid substances that stain, such as tobacco and red wine, for about a week. This is because the pores in your teeth are open and your teeth are more receptive to staining factors after your teeth-whitening treatment. Your teeth may also feel slightly sensitive to very hot or cold foods and beverages.
Brushing and flossing regularly will help to maintain whiteness, and you can generally expect the results to last about 1-3 years – or even longer if you are a non-smoker and avoid foods that are known to stain teeth. Because teeth whitening is not permanent, you will need to maintain your bright smile with continued treatments. For regular patients, this upkeep can be costly, but with smile.com.au member savings, smile.com.au members can maintain their beautiful smile with affordable re-treatments.
The discomfort experienced varies from person to person and depends on the method used. In most cases, adults experience very minor discomfort that lasts 1-3 days after the treatment. This can be easily treated with over-the-counter painkillers.
Your dentist may also instruct you to apply a gel fluoride in your teeth-whitening tray to help decrease sensitivity.
The side effects of teeth whitening include tooth sensitivity and pain in the gums and tongue. There is also a possibility of over-whitening, resulting in a translucency that may appear grey from the shadows of the mouth. This is very rare and only occurs if the whitening process is over-extended. With take-home whitening, there is a small risk of ingesting the administered gel, which could lead to nausea, burning and vomiting. The chances of this occurring are slim, as your teeth-whitening tray should fit almost perfectly around your teeth. The peroxide in teeth-whitening products can burn your gums if they are not properly protected, which is another reason why it is recommended to leave your mouth in the hands of professional dentists.
Tooth whitening can cause temporary tooth sensitivity, especially if you experience tooth decay or receding gums. This sensitivity is treatable with over-the-counter painkillers, and it is reversible over time.
Tooth whitening does not have any effect on fillings or crowns – they will remain the same colour. Tooth-coloured fillings and crowns will need to be replaced after whitening if you wish all of your teeth to be the same colour.
In most cases, anyone 10 years or older can whiten their teeth, as this is generally when all of the front permanent teeth have grown in. Baby teeth usually remain bright white unless they suffer a colour-changing trauma, in which case whitening may be considered to avoid embarrassment for the child.
This depends on your unique circumstances. Whiteners may not correct all kinds of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably whiten well, brownish-coloured teeth may not whiten as well, and greyish-hued teeth may not whiten well at all. In most cases, sparkling white teeth that are several shades brighter than the original shade can be achieved with in-practice treatments.
Smoking will rapidly reverse the results of your teeth-whitening treatment. Tobacco causes deep staining within the tooth enamel and should be avoided completely for at least a week after your treatment. Smokers will require more regular re-treatments than non-smokers to maintain their colour.
You can extend the results of your teeth-whitening treatment by avoiding staining foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, red wine, soft drink and tobacco.
If you can’t go without your morning coffee or afternoon wine, try drinking through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth as much as possible. It is also important to keep the mouth clean by brushing and flossing regularly.
There are several options available for brightening your teeth and improving your smile. Some methods include porcelain veneers, composite bonding and dental implants. If your stains are deep within the enamel, these options may be more effective for you than whitening.
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