Everything you need to know about tooth whitening
Smile with confidence.
According to research, smiling releases happy endorphins that can actually make you look and feel younger, improve your mood and make yourself, and others around you, feel fantastic. If your not-so pearly whites are dampening your mood and getting in the way of you and your smile, a tooth whitening system can put the sparkle back in your beam and give you that much-deserved boost of confidence, without the embarrassment of stained or yellow teeth.
Before embarking on a tooth whitening treatment, be sure you know everything there is to know about tooth whitening.
What is tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening is a dental procedure that employs the use of bleaching agents to lighten stained and discoloured teeth.
What causes teeth to become discoloured and stained?
Various lifestyle habits such as smoking, coffee, tea and red wine can cause the surface of your teeth to become stained and discoloured over a certain period. Poor oral hygiene such as irregular brushing or flossing, as well as certain medications, and existing dental problems such as tooth decay or fillings can cause teeth to turn yellow. Excessive exposure to fluoride during childhood is another factor that contributes to the change in surface colour.
What results can I expect from a tooth-whitening treatment?
If your teeth are discoloured from surface stains or age, a whitening treatment can deliver excellent results by abolishing the yellow tinge, resulting in a bright, white smile.
Can I get my teeth whitened at my local salon or spa?
For best results, it is recommended that a qualified dentist assesses the condition of your teeth and provide you with an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific requirements.
What will my dentist need to know in order to provide me with a treatment plan?
A clear medical and dental history will help your dentist diagnose the root of your discolouration, as well as the appropriate procedures for optimum whitening results. X-rays may need to be performed to identify existing dental problems.
When would a tooth-whitening procedure be considered unsuitable?
Factors such as discolouration caused by medication or excessive fluoride, sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks, delicate/absent tooth enamel, regular use of tobacco and alcoholic products, gum disease, dentures or implants, and pregnancy or breastfeeding would be enough reason to consider the procedure unsuitable.
What results can I expect?
Depending on the condition of your teeth and the reason for discoloration, degrees of whiteness may vary.
How long will my results last?
Results can last anywhere between one and three years, depending on your lifestyle and hygiene habits.
What treatments will the dentist prescribe?
Treatments are based on factors such as your dental history and root cause of your discoloration. A single treatment or a combination of treatments may be prescribed, as well as an anti-inflammatory and medication prior to the treatment, including a tropical fluoride to strengthen your tooth enamel.
What tooth whitening procedures are available?
- Light activated and laser bleaching: rubber seals and gels are used to protect your mouth as the dentist applies a bleaching agent to your tooth surface, followed by a high intensity light.
- Bleaching trays: a custom mould constructed from a plastic tray is taken of your teeth. It comes with a tube of bleaching gel and can be worn in the comfort of your home for a prescribed period.
- Internal bleaching: If your teeth are discoloured from a root canal procedure, a small hole can be carefully drilled into the back of your tooth, then filled with a bleaching agent and closed with a temporary filling. Several treatments may be required to achieve the desired result.
What possible risks does the procedure carry?
It is important to understand the risks and benefits of a tooth-whitening treatment. Possible effects of tooth whitening may include:
- Tooth discomfort
- Hot and cold sensitivity
- Sensitivity to air (short term)
- Irritated or sore gums/inner cheeks
- Whitened patches on gum line
- Mouth ulcers
- Sore throat
- Nausea (if bleaching agent is ingested)
What does a treatment cost?
The cost of treatment varies depending on the type of procedure and number of required visits.
Tooth whitening is a common dental procedure that can effectively remove built-up stain and discolouration and restore the natural whiteness of your teeth by up to nine shades (individual results may vary). With many tooth-whitening systems on the market, seeking professional advice when it comes to your pearly whites will make all the difference to seeing professional results.