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5 things you should know about teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is available almost everywhere. Almost everyone who walks through the door asks me whether they would get a result from whitening. Sure! But let’s keep our expectations realistic.

Whether it be strolling through the supermarket aisles, getting approached by “whitening booths” at shopping centres, or even browsing the internet… every body seems to be offering WHITENING of some sort… but does it work?

Let’s look at some facts that you should know about tooth whitening:

1/ Should I be whitening my teeth? Will it work for me?
Not everyone’s teeth are suitable for whitening. If your teeth and gums are not in a healthy condition before you whiten, the procedure may cause more damage. Even if there is nothing wrong with your teeth there may be other reasons why whitening won’t work.

2/ Is whitening painful?
If used correctly, although not “painful”, however, whitening can sometimes be sensitive to the teeth. That is because hydrogen peroxide gel is placed onto the tooth surface. Often hydrogen peroxide can react with the tooth structure to cause discomfort to the tooth nerve. These symptoms are usually temporary only.

3/ Why do I need to whiten at a dental surgery?
Although many professional services offer tooth whitening (eg. beauticians, shopping centre booths etc.), a dentist is trained to specialise in teeth. For many people teeth whitening poses no serious risk if done correctly. However, if you choose the wrong treatment for your teeth or that treatment is applied incorrectly (e.g. whitening products are often used too frequently or applied for too long a time) then some damage can occur. Damages can include reduction in the hardness and strength of enamel, blistering, severe tooth sensitivity.

On the product side, some whitening treatments are very highly concentrated and are well over the officially recommended level of 6% for the active whitening ingredient. Find out what’s in the product you want to use as they can range from 3% to 35%!

4/ Do take home whitening kits work?
Home whitening kits can get good results. The take home kit has the same active ingredient to whiten your teeth, however, conducted over a longer period of time with a lower concentration. This results in a more even result with reduced rate in post-operative sensitivity. We generally recommend using the whitening gel at 30-45mins per day for 5-7 days to achieve results (of course this varies from person to person). The same result… at a lower cost!

5/ Does tooth whitening last forever?
Tooth whitening will not last for ever, however your teeth often stay at the lighter shade anywhere from 6 months to a 2 years, depending on the method that was used and lifestyle factors such as what one eats, drinks or any other habits affect the discoloration of the teeth. Should you need a “top up” after a few years, simply buy more gel to add to your take home kit…simple! :)

Amongst all these facts, it’s important to understand that should you have any further enquiries regarding tooth whitening to speak to your dentist! :)