Questions People ask about Teeth Whitening
I’m sure you’ll agree, most people would LOVE to have brilliant white teeth, but struggle to achieve that reality
Hi, I’m Monica, I’m your new dentist and I’m passionate about helping people actually see less of me by helping them be more in control of their dental health. It’s easy learn how you can improve your quality of life through improving your dental health.
I get questions all the time about teeth whitening and what options are available. People don’t just want to know how much it costs or if bleaching your teeth has side effects. But they have questions like:
- How long does it last?
- How often can you whiten your teeth?
- How long does teeth whitening take?
- Does teeth whitening damage your teeth?
To help you get the white smile you’re after and not waste time or money or put your health at risk, let’s take a look at how you can whiten your teeth effectively and safely.
Why are my teeth not white?
There are actually a wide range of options available to you depending on what kind of discoloration you are trying to remove and what kind of results you want.
Teeth can be stained or become discoloured for a whole bunch of reasons. To get a great result we need to match the whitening solution to your individual needs.
Did you know that there are two main different ways teeth can become stained.
- INTRINSIC staining. As the name suggests these stains are actually “IN” the tooth. These stains have occurred whilst the tooth was forming – from birth to about 14 years of age. There’s a range of this that can do this to teeth like illness or some medications. This kind of discolouration needs careful assessment to work out the best way to go forward. There are quite a few professionally applied options that can work but unfortunately using whitening treatments on the OUTSIDE of the tooth alone are unlikely to make any difference at all. You might be wasting your time and money and just end up feeling more frustrated.
Oh and sorry – even just getting older makes our teeth appear darker. Yep, even mine …
- EXTRINSIC staining. Again, as the name suggests these stains are on the outside of the tooth. Usually from all the good things in life we all love (including me..) like tea, coffee, red wine and yes you guessed it – smoking. Here’s where a treatment to the surface of the tooth can make a real difference.
So you’ve decided you’d like to give whitening a go? That’s great, what’s next?
At Your New Dentist, all of my patients who have whitening treatments will have a full checkup first. We are going to be playing around with some fairly heavy duty bleach, so you need to know that your gums and teeth are healthy and ready to go. That way we can reduce the risk of complications. I am not a fan of complications.
The last thing you want is to start treatment with perhaps an inflammation of your gums or maybe a broken filling.
And then you plonk bleach on top of it, and all of a sudden you have sensitivity issues. You’ve got a busy life. Who needs teeth hassles?
Professional Whitening Treatments
What we do know is that professionally applied dental whitening treatments do work.
How do they work? Here’s the detail in a nutshell.
Otherwise known as “the sciencey bit”.
Teeth discolouration comes about because of molecules (heavy molecular weight) either inside or outside the tooth (Intrinsic or Extrinsic) that change the way light is reflected by the tooth – therefore how ‘White” a tooth looks.
Bleaching products are absorbed into the tooth through the enamel and dentine. A chemical reaction occurs. The heavy weight molecules are broken down into light weight molecules. The stain is either completely removed or at least broken down. Now when light hits the tooth it appears whiter. Simple.
How do we whiten teeth professionally?
There are two main ways.
- Professionally made customised bleaching trays. You apply the bleach into the trays and wear them on your teeth for one hour day for around two weeks. The most important note to make here – The trays you will be using are customised. They fit you and only you. You put the bleach in and it stays put. Not flowing out around your mouth. It remains in close contact with your teeth for the full hour. You keep the trays in future you just buy refill bleach. You are in control of how white you want to go.
IF you use non-customised trays (supermarket and online products), there is a greater chance you’re wasting product and damaging your soft tissues (gums, throat).
- Professionally applied IN CHAIR bleaching. You pop yourself in the chair. We carefully apply a protective barrier over your soft tissues (gums). We apply a very high strength bleach and activate it with a light. Just over an hour later you’re white! It’s convenient for sure.
There are lots of products on the market these days. And there’s a different system for each, there’s advantages and disadvantages with each system.
Changes to the regulations in 2013 mean that only dentist supplied whitening products are of a high enough concentration to be effective. Compared to what you can buy online or in the supermarket.
How long does it last?
Sorry dudes, it’s not permanent. I like to compare teeth whitening to hair colour. Anyone who knows me, knows I colour my hair a lot! All depends on the look you are after. Everyone’s teeth will ‘rebound’ differently. For most people, you will have to do a little maintenance from time to time to maintain the shade of white you like.
How often can you whiten your teeth?
That can be personal preference. We would not recommend any more frequently than every 6 months. You might be really happy with the initial result and then in future perhaps you’ll whiten for a few days before a special occasion. The take home whitening systems are great in this way.
Does teeth whitening damage your teeth?
There are currently no known issues with damage to your teeth as long as you use the whitening system as directed. Three groups of people are NOT recommended for whitening – those who smoke, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding.
Are there side effects to teeth whitening?
The most significant side effect in my experience is sensitivity, but it’s usually temporary. There are products we can recommend that with help reduce sensitivity.
If you already have tooth coloured fillings these fillings will not whiten. You may have to have those fillings redone after the teeth whitening treatment.
The best way to find out what’s going to work for you is to come talk to Your New Dentist. Then you can get a personalised plan to get you smiling and looking fresh again.
Does Natural Whitening Work?
Unfortunately, probably not as well as you’d like. With home remedies it can be a bit hit and miss. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find plenty of suggestions.
You may well have been attracted to them because they appear cheap and easy. Some of the most popular home teeth whitening remedies are:
- Baking soda and lemon juice
- Coconut oil
- Lemon juice and salt
- Orange peel
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Apple cider vinegar
How well do home remedies work?
Baking Soda / BiCarb Soda are abrasive and have been used to clean teeth for yonks. They will work to some extent on superficial stains. Be careful though that you don’t overdo it and ‘polish’ your teeth away.
Lemon juice and Apple Cider Vinegar are both ACIDS. Again, they may work to some extent on superficial stains but they can literally dissolve your teeth if used often enough. Teeth that have been eroded by acid will end up looking yellow, be sensitive and more fragile.
Should I have my teeth whitened at a Beauty Salon?
Definitely not. No disrespect to the beauty industry. Beauty therapists are not trained to apply teeth whitening treatments.
Here’s what Choice magazine had to say on the subject…
“Teeth-whitening salons offer in-chair treatments that claim to brighten smiles up to nine shades. With little or no training and an outlay of a few thousand dollars for an activating light and bleaching equipment, entrepreneurs can establish a lucrative little money-earner in hair and beauty salons, shopping centre kiosks, or even mobile home-based teeth-whitening parties.
Typically costing less than $200, it’s much cheaper than similar teeth-whitening services provided by a dentist. But what do you need to know before you try it?
The teeth-whitening industry is largely unregulated and the practitioners in salons don’t necessarily have any dental training.
Practitioners are unable to advise on whether the process is appropriate for someone (some kinds of discolouration don’t respond to certain treatments), and they’re not qualified to check for problems such as cracked enamel, cavities, restorations and exposed root surfaces that need special care.
Potential problems include lack of proper infection control, careless application or ill-fitting bleaching trays, causing irritation to gums and lips. In most cases, however, the worst outcome will be temporarily sore gums and sensitive teeth.
To whiten teeth, salons typically use a bleaching gel and then place your teeth in line with an activating light. However, an increase in injuries associated with teeth-whitening products prompted amendments to the Poisons Standard which took effect in May 2013.
It means that teeth-whitening preparations containing more than 6% hydrogen peroxide (18% carbamide peroxide) are now prohibited from sale, supply or use, except by registered dentists in a clinical setting.
Here’s the article in full:
Check out this article about illegal whitening:
Teeth whitening limited to dentists:
Your New Dentist is here to help you enjoy the freedom and great quality of life that comes with great dental health. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon.
Be the reason someone smiles today!