Teeth Whitening: Your Questions Answered By A Dentist

Patients who have visited Crescent Dental may recall the medical history form filled in at the start of the first appointment. The last question on the form asks “Are you generally happy with the appearance of your teeth?”. The most common answer? “They could be whiter!”. So let’s address some of the questions I hear the most when it comes to whitening.

1. What is used to whiten teeth?

Option 1: Hydrogen peroxide up to 6% - it acts quickly, usually within an hour.

Option 2: Carbamide peroxide up to around 16% - it is released slowly, lots of patients choose to wear it overnight while sleeping.

2. Can teeth whitening damage your teeth?

The whitening gels we use and supply are safe to use as directed and will not damage your teeth. Your teeth might feel sensitive temporarily during/after whitening but this will soon settle down, especially with the help of toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth.

3. What teeth whitening do our dentists recommend?

Option 1: In Surgery/Laser Whitening

What’s involved? Sit back, relax, listen to some music and let the dentist do the work! The dentist will apply and re-apply whitening gel to the teeth over the course of one hour. A blue light will be placed over the mouth to gently heat the whitening gel to further activate it and to temporarily dry out the teeth and enhance the whitening gel’s action on the enamel.

The advantages?

1. Fast and effective – whiter teeth after one hour.
2. No need to wrestle with messy gels – the dentist does all that!

Any downside?

The results are not usually as long-lasting as in home whitening.

Option 2: Home Whitening

What’s involved? The dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send them to a dental laboratory to have customised “whitening trays” made – they’re like very thin mouthguards. The dentist will then show you how to easily place the whitening gels in your trays for you to wear and repeat at home everyday for a few weeks.

The advantages?

1. A long-lasting result – top up for a short time every 6 months or every year. Keep your trays safe and buy more whitening gel only as you need it.

2. Control – not all your teeth are the same shade, especially canine teeth – some teeth will need whitening for longer to match them up to the rest of your teeth. This is easily achieved with home whitening.

3. In your own time, at your own pace

Any downside?

It takes longer! Usually a few weeks.

Option 3: Both!

The best of both worlds – fast and long-lasting! Get a head-start with in-surgery whitening, stabilise the shade or even brighten your teeth even more for a more long-term result with home whitening for a few days after.

4. Is everybody a candidate for teeth whitening?

No, which is why it is important to arrange a consultation with your dentist before going ahead with whitening your teeth.

For example, white fillings/crowns/veneers will not whiten so you might consider replacing them after whitening if you would like a better match.

Also, we don’t have scientific evidence to prove if whitening gels are safe or not for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers to use – so safer not to!

5. Anything else I need to know?

- Teeth Whitening is not suitable for those under 18 years of age.

- The results from whitening are variable – everybody’s tooth composition and starting shade is different – so everybody responds differently.

- Whitening can temporarily aggravate hypersensitivity in those who already have very sensitive teeth.

- Whitening can also aggravate the gums but only temporarily – following the instructions with your home kit will help to prevent this.

- Stay away from foods and drinks that will stain your teeth after whitening – your enamel surface will be slightly rougher temporarily, it will pick up stains and undo all that lovely whitening!

6. But does it work?

Yes!

See you in Crescent Dental for your whitening consultation!

Dr. Anna Foley

Reva Dental