Tooth whitening is a safe, non invasive way of improving the appearance of your teeth. It can be used to brighten the smile of all your teeth or to lighten the colour of a dead tooth. Tooth whitening has been in use for more than 30 years and has been proven to be safe and effective.
AT HOME WHITENING
The gold standard is custom tray tooth whitening at home. Impressions are taken of the teeth and close fitting trays are made in a laboratory. The patient loads these trays with the tooth whitening gel and wears them at night. Typically it takes about 10 days to achieve the desired effect. However it can be quicker, or occasionally it may take longer depending on the original colour and the desires of the patient.
The whitening effect will last 2 – 3 years, depending on whether you smoke and the amount of red wine or coffee that you drink.
At any time the process can be redone or topped up and once the teeth have been lightened once, it is much quicker to lighten them again. The trays can be reused.
Advantages of custom tray whitening:
- More predictable, longer lasting results.
- Fewer problems with sensitivity.
- The patient controls the degree of colour change.
Since the trays are reusable the effect can be maintained at any stage and at very little cost.
These are another form of at home whitening and they are applied to the outer surface of the teeth. The strips are impregnated with the whitening agent, they are left in position for a number of hours and this is repeated daily over a couple of weeks. Because they are only on the outer surface of the teeth and because the concentration of whitening agent is relatively low, it is not as effective as custom tray whitening.
However if your teeth are not very dark it can work well and is very cost effective.
WHITENING A DEAD TOOTH
When the nerve is removed from a tooth it can turn darker in colour. The whitening agent is placed inside the tooth for a number of days and the process is repeated up to twice. The colour change will last about 3 years and it can be redone.
LASER TOOTH WHITENING
With this method a hydrogen peroxide gel is placed on the outer surface of your teeth and is left in position for 20 minutes. The procedure is repeated 2 – 3 times. An intensifying light may be used to enhance the effect. The advantage of this method is that it achieves an instant result.
The disadvantages are that the result is not as predictable; because only the outer surfaces of the teeth are treated it does not last as long as custom tray whitening, and there is significantly more chance of sensitivity.
All methods of tooth whitening have the potential to cause some sensitivity. However for the vast majority of patients this is not a problem once the appropriate method and formulation is used.
For people with very sensitive teeth specific formulations are available which will be comfortable but these will take longer to be effective.
In general the faster the technique, the stronger the whitening agent and therefore the higher the risk of sensitivity.
Fast acting Laser / Light procedures have the most potential for causing sensitivity.
We would be happy to advise you on which protocol best suits you.