What is Teeth Whitening?
Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look. Teeth whitening is becoming increasingly popular.
We would get more questions about this service, than any other service. It is because people simply look younger and healthier when they have a beautiful bright white smile. There are different methods of tooth whitening, depending on the cause of the discolouration.
What causes discolouration of teeth?
Below details the most common reasons for teeth discolourations:
- The natural colour of teeth in humans varies and can be quite dark, especially if you were exposed to certain antibiotics as a child while the teeth were still forming, before eruption.
- External staining and hardened plaque/calculus/tartar can also alter the colour of the teeth. Many foods and drinks cause staining such as:
- Red wine
- Smoking (cigarettes or other drugs)
- Dark fruits and vegetables such as beetroot and berries
If staining is the cause of your discolouration then often the teeth can appear much whiter after professional scaling and cleaning.
Other types of discolouration:
- Non-vital tooth: This is when the ‘nerve’ in the tooth may be dead. The tooth may have suffered trauma, the canal may be calcified or there may have been previous root canal treatment. Usually this discolouration is the case if there is one or two teeth darker than all the other ones.
- Old fillings, especially amalgam fillings, can show through thin enamel of the tooth causing it to look darker.
- Old crowns, especially crowns with metal substructure and porcelain coated on top.
- Enamel formation defects – problems with how the enamel formed before the tooth erupted into the mouth.
- Individual variation in a person – different people simply have different coloured teeth.
- Increasing age – as we get older the enamel on our teeth wears and becomes thin, allowing the tooth layer underneath which is more yellow to show through more.
Your teeth whitening appointments at our practice
Because there are so many varied causes of discolouration, it is important to have an examination appointment to assess the health of the teeth and decide which method of whitening is most appropriate depending on the cause.
The treatment could involve:
- Professional cleaning.
- Replacement of existing fillings. Especially the old silver fillings
- Internal or external whitening
This is when a tooth which has some discolouration, usually from an old root canal therapy .This tooth can be whitened internally. The tooth is opened at the back where the old root canal opening was made, and a whitening solution is placed inside the tooth and allowed to work for a length of time. A temporary filling protects the tooth and the whitening solution. After a week, the tooth is filled with a permanent filling.
External whitening – this is achieved ‘at home’, or ‘in office’
- At Home Whitening involves taking upper and lower impressions to make customised, thin, clear, whitening trays that look like very thin mouthguards. The whitening gel is placed in these trays, and put over the teeth, to keep the gel in contact with the teeth. They are usually used for an hour or two, for up to two weeks.
- In Office Whitening is where the whitening is performed in the dental practice. Whitening cream is applied to the teeth and a light is used to speed up the process. We usually allow one and a half hours, for the visit.
Both methods provide whitening of an average of around 2- 3 shades whiter. The ‘in office’ system is good for patients who have a big function, like a wedding, engagement, or graduation, and don’t have 2 weeks to use the ‘take home’ system.
The ‘At Home Whitening’ method is less expensive than the ‘In Office’ method.
Please contact us for more information.