Professional teeth whitening, also known as teeth bleaching, has become extremely popular. Whitening will not change the colour of your teeth completely, but will lighten the shade, without removing any of the tooth surface. The results are temporary, but can last up to 3 years, depending on diet and smoking habits.
Teeth whitening treatments lighten the teeth with the use of Hydrogen Peroxide (bleach). Whitening can be applied to the outside of teeth to brighten their appearance, or to the inside of the root canal for teeth that have had diseased roots.
It may be necessary to have other dental treatments prior to whitening, as whitening treatments can only be applied to healthy teeth and gums. A visit to the dental hygienist is also recommended prior to whitening treatment, to give the teeth a thorough cleaning and remove any surface stains.
Tooth coloured fillings and replacement teeth will not lighten with these treatments.
Teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold food and drink for a few days after the whitening treatment, but this is a temporary effect.
Teeth Whitening Trays and Gels
Your dentist can provide you with teeth whitening trays and gels that can be worn at home. These can be very effective, but results take longer to achieve than dental surgery whitening.
Your dentist will take an impression of your mouth and give this to a dental technician, who will build a bespoke tray to the exact measurements of your mouth. Your dentist will check that the tray fits and demonstrate how to carry out the procedure at home.
The tray fits closely around the teeth, and is filled with the gel. Depending on the strength of peroxide in the gel, these trays are usually worn a couple of hours a day or overnight and could take anywhere from 3 days to a couple of weeks before any results are noticed.
Over the counter whitening kits
Over the counter whitening kits are available, although dentists do not recommend using these as they use a generic sized tray, which could allow the bleaching agent to come into contact with your gums, causing irritation. They are also less effective as the bleach content is weaker.
How long will the effects last?
The whitening can last for up to 3 years, although this depends on your individual circumstances. If you are a smoker or drink lots of stainable liquids (such as tea and coffee), it is not likely to last as long. It is possible to top up your bleaching by retaining your bleaching trays and purchasing additional bleaching agent. This is done under the supervision of the dentist, but can maintain the enhanced colour of your teeth. This will only take 3-4 days of re- bleaching, per year.
What about whitening toothpastes?
Teeth whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives to remove surface stains. Some whitening toothpastes may have additional polishing agents and special chemicals that are more effective against stains than regular toothpastes, but teeth whitening toothpastes are not designed to actually bleach your teeth. However, they can help to prolong the effects of teeth whitening treatment.
Will whitening work on artificial teeth?
No. Tooth coloured fillings, crowns, bridges and veneers will not lighten when your teeth are bleached