All You Need To Know About Teeth Whitening

cropped 20211105 piara ro1 5941 scaled 1.jpg By Dr. Ram Nair

Whitening your teeth can be a great way to improve your beautiful smile and boost your self-confidence. However, it’s important to know that not all teeth whitening treatments are the same.

In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of teeth whitening treatments available and their benefits and drawbacks. We will also provide tips on how to get the most out of your teeth whitening treatment. If you’re interested in learning more about this dental procedure, keep reading!

What is Teeth Whitening?

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Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic procedure that can help improve the appearance of your smile by lightening the colour of your teeth. Over time, teeth can become stained due to your diet and lifestyle. Nowadays, a variety of teeth whitening systems and products are available in the market, including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays, and whitening products you get from a dental practitioner. Teeth whitening is most effective on individuals with healthy, unrestored teeth and gums.

Often, a light bleaching agent or thorough dental cleaning can easily remove superficial stains. However, when the entire tooth is discoloured, the issue may lie past the superficial layer. A tooth has three main layers. The hard enamel surface is the outermost layer and protects the tooth. Your dentin is the middle layer. It is slightly yellowish and responsible for giving your teeth their overall colour. The pulp is the innermost and softest layer of your tooth. It contains vital tissues like nerves. During teeth whitening treatment, the bleaching agent will penetrate the dentin layer. The peroxide will be able to lighten the dentin to give your teeth a whiter appearance.

If you are considering teeth whitening, it is important to consult with a qualified dentist to ensure that it is the right choice for you.

Am I a Candidate for Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening aims to remove stains on teeth. It can also lighten the shade of the tooth’s dentin layer to give an overall brighter appearance. Tooth discolouration is common to all. Whether one’s diet, habits, or genetics is the cause, teeth naturally stain over time. Even aging naturally changes one’s tooth colour due to thinning of the outer enamel layer.

The ideal candidates for teeth whitening are patients with healthy but discoloured teeth and healthy, uninflamed gums. Yellowish teeth are often the most responsive to the teeth whitening process. In some cases, teeth may be too stained for teeth whitening treatments to be effective. Your dentist may then recommend a different cosmetic procedure to address your needs better.

What are the Benefits of Teeth Whitening?

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For patients with tooth discolouration or staining problems, teeth whitening may be the ideal treatment for them. Although there are obvious aesthetic benefits, some additional dental health benefits can be obtained with a teeth whitening treatment.

  1. Discolouration and stain removal
    Surface stains can occur over time with diet and improper dental hygiene practices. Effective teeth whitening can lighten the stains and the overall natural colour of the tooth.
  2. More youthful appearance
    As teeth naturally turn yellow with age, a whiter smile will give you a more youthful appearance.
  3. Raised self-esteem
    With brighter teeth, one can smile wider and with more confidence. Whiter teeth also keep you motivated to maintain them, so improvements in oral hygiene will improve your overall appearance.
  4. Personalized treatment options
    There are several different treatment options for whiter teeth available on the market. The most recommended treatment still remains to be the in-office treatment with your dentist. However, those who are unable to see their dentist can still enjoy whiter teeth thanks to over-the-counter options like whitening strips, gels and toothpaste.

What Are The Types of Teeth Whitening Options Available?

Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic procedure that can be done at home or in the dentist’s office. Over-the-counter tooth whitening products are generally less expensive than professional treatments, but they may not be as effective or take longer to give you the desired results. These are the most common teeth whitening options available on the market today.

  • In-Office Teeth Whitening
    Visiting your dentist for cosmetic teeth whitening is the most effective and time-efficient method of achieving a brighter smile. If it has been determined that your teeth would benefit from the procedure, your dentist can help prepare you for the teeth whitening procedure. Preparatory measures like a scale and clean will help make the end result even and dazzling.
    With professional teeth whitening, you can expect immediate results. Your teeth can become 2 to 8 shades lighter in one session. This is due to the high percentage of peroxide in the bleaching agent used. The hydrogen peroxide gel is applied to the teeth in intervals to bring them to the desired shade. In total, the entire appointment can last up to an hour.
  • Teeth Whitening Strips
    One of the most common over-the-counter teeth whitening options is the use of teeth whitening strips. Most commercial whitening strip products use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient. It is known to handle lightly stained teeth and mild discolouration.
    The teeth whitening strip products will come in a pack and will be less concentrated in terms of the bleaching agent. This means that results may take some time to appear. It’s likely that it will take several treatments until you get the desired visible results.
  • Teeth Whitening Gels and Kits
    Take-home teeth whitening kits include some bleaching agent and a set of dental trays. You’ll have separate ones for the upper and lower teeth. Teeth whitening kits can be purchased commercially or from your dentist. Those from your dentist will contain special custom-fitted trays moulded from your teeth. They will fit over your teeth while allowing the bleaching agent to reach all of the required surfaces. Commercial teeth whitening kits come with standard or one-size-fits-most dental trays.
  • Whitening Toothpaste
    Toothpastes help remove stains from teeth, thanks to its slightly abrasive nature. Whitening toothpaste is formulated differently. It will contain chemicals and polish agents that will be more effective in removing stains from your teeth. They are the least expensive option for teeth whitening but are the least effective in lifting the colour of a tooth.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

With so many teeth whitening options available on the market, one can’t help but wonder if the treatments are safe. Teeth whitening treatments are definitely safe. However, there are some side effects that you should consider before receiving treatment.

There are two side effects that can occur with teeth whitening procedures. These are an increase in tooth sensitivity and mild irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth. Although these negative side effects are usually temporary, they can still be uncomfortable and a nuisance to deal with. You can expect the side effects to disappear 1 to 3 days after the treatment.

Gum irritation can be caused by several different factors. Most commonly, it is due to the ill-fitting dental tray that contains the bleaching solution. The mouthpiece can press against the teeth in a way that irritates the soft tissue. The bleaching solution can also come in contact with the gums and cause gingival irritation or mild burns.

Tooth sensitivity occurs in the earlier phases of the treatment. When the teeth are exposed to the bleaching agent, it can cause tooth sensitivity. The effects can worsen with higher hydrogen peroxide concentrations. There are certain steps you can take to reduce tooth sensitivity during your teeth whitening treatment:

  1. Shortening your treatment sessions.
  2. Discontinuing the whitening treatment
  3. Using fluoride-containing dental products that can help remineralize your teeth. Applying the product before and after your teeth whitening treatment can help quell the tooth sensitivity.
  4. Switch to toothpastes for sensitive teeth. These usually contain potassium nitrate to help soothe the nerve endings of the tooth.

Who Would Not Benefit From Teeth Whitening?

Certain conditions may discolour the tooth so severely that teeth whitening will not be effective to address them, and there are some patients who are contraindicated in having teeth whitening procedures. If you want to have teeth whitening done, visit your dentist to determine the cause of your discolouration.

  • Children and young teens.
    Teeth bleaching is not recommended for individuals below 16 years of age. After the age of 16, the pulp chamber of the teeth is no longer enlarged, making the teeth less prone to sensitivity. Additionally, primary or baby teeth need not be treated for stains, as they are later replaced.
  • Pregnant or lactating women.
    The hormones present during pregnancy increase blood flow to the gums. This makes them swell and more prone to bleeding. Swollen gums can cause problems with the fit of a dental tray, causing treatment complications like tooth sensitivity.
  • Sensitive teeth and allergies.
    Sensitivity issues can stem from defective restorations or receding gums. Allergic reactions to the bleaching solution are uncommon, but hydrogen peroxide allergies can render patients unfit for the teeth whitening procedure. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should be wary of any form of teeth whitening. Consult with your dentist before attempting teeth whitening.
  • Poor tooth conditions.
    Patients with periodontal disease, cavities, or damaged teeth may be discouraged from the teeth whitening procedure. These patients must undergo additional procedures to address their oral problems prior to getting their teeth bleached. Active gum disease and inflammation need to be resolved to avoid severe side effects after the treatment. For patient comfort, cavities in the teeth need to be filled. Some severely damaged teeth may need to be extracted.
  • Dental restorations.
    Teeth whitening is not effective in whitening tooth-coloured fillings and composite materials used in dental restorations. Dental crowns, veneers, and bridges will not whiten like natural teeth. If you are unsatisfied with the current shade of your natural teeth, you should have them whitened before installing any dental restoration. Otherwise, you will experience uneven whitening during your treatment.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
    During the initial consultation, your dentist will explain the treatment protocols and give you an estimate of the shade you can expect after your treatment. Heavily stained teeth will not turn out blindingly white after your initial treatment. In fact, having extremely white teeth may look unnatural. Traditionally, one’s tooth shade should match the whites of the eyes.
  • Heavily stained teeth.
    While yellow-stained teeth respond positively to teeth bleaching, teeth of a brownish or greyish hue will be less responsive to the whitening treatment. Other tooth restoration options may be suggested, like dental veneers, bonding, or crowns.

How Long Do Tooth Whitening Results Last?

Just as teeth naturally stain over time, the results of teeth whitening will not last forever. Depending on how they are cared for, whitened teeth can stay bright for as short as six months or as long as 2-3 years. Several factors can affect the longevity of the treatment results, like lifestyle habits, oral hygiene, and diet.

Tips on how to keep your teeth bright:

  1. Avoid dark-coloured food and drink that can stain your teeth.
    Dark and acidic food and drink are known to stain teeth. Drinks to avoid include red wine, sports drinks, carbonated beverages, tea, and coffee. Berries, curry, tomato, and soy sauce can also stain your teeth if they play a large role in your diet. To minimise staining, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after each meal.
  2. Maintain good oral hygiene.
    Keeping a healthy, bright smile involves a proper routine to care for your teeth and mouth. Brush your teeth at least twice daily to keep plaque from building up on the surface of your teeth. Rinsing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash can also reduce plaque. Incorporating a whitening toothpaste once or twice into your weekly routine can aid in removing surface stains and prevent your teeth from yellowing.
  3. Include fibre-rich and calcium-dense products in your diet.
    Fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre and scrub your teeth as you chew. It is important to remember that they contain sugar, so rinsing after is a must. Cheese and milk in your diet can help keep your teeth strong and white as well.
  4. Stay away from tobacco.
    Smoking and chewing tobacco is a habit that heavily stains teeth. If a heavy smoker has teeth whitening treatment but does not kick the habit, they will soon find their teeth yellow and stained again.
  5. Visit your dentist regularly.
    It is recommended that you see your dentist every six months. During your check-up, your dentist can evaluate the condition of your teeth and determine the need for touch-up treatments. Professional cleaning can also remove superficial stains, keeping your teeth looking white and bright.

What Is The Cost Of Teeth Whitening?

Although no one can put a price on the joy of seeing your dazzling white smile, the average cost of dental services can be estimated. For those seeking teeth whitening in Australia, a take-home teeth whitening kit can cost upwards of $600. If you prefer to have your teeth whitening done in-clinic by your dentist, in-chair bleaching treatments can cost around $250-$300 per tooth.

The cost of teeth whitening treatment can vary between providers and clinics based on location and whitening agents used. To learn how much teeth whitening can cost in your area, call your local dental clinic and schedule a consultation.

Final Thoughts

Teeth whitening is a common dental cosmetic procedure done to improve the appearance of teeth. Adult patients suffering from tooth discolouration and staining are great candidates for teeth whitening treatments. Depending on what suits their needs, there are several treatment options that are currently available at varying price ranges.

There are several different benefits one can enjoy from teeth whitening that can help you live a more engaging life. However, in some cases, due to the condition of the patient or the state of their oral health, teeth whitening treatment is not advisable. To learn if you are a viable candidate for teeth whitening, give Piara Waters Dental a call at (08) 6196 4661. We want to help you get your dream smile because everyone deserves to smile brighter.

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