As we age, it’s not just our skin that starts to show signs of wear and tear. Our teeth can also become discoloured due to the buildup of surface stains. Hence, many people are interested in whitening their teeth. However, there is much misinformation about professional teeth whitening, what it can do for your teeth, and whether they’re safe.
If you’re considering professional teeth whitening, it’s essential to understand what the treatment involves and how it can benefit you. This comprehensive guide will talk about teeth whitening procedures, how you can prepare, and how it whitens the teeth. So, keep reading to learn more.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
Professional teeth whitening is a dental procedure that uses concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to target tough stains on the surface enamel that is causing tooth discolouration. It is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments today because, unlike other methods, it can bring dramatic results. You can expect your teeth to become a few shades lighter than your current tooth shade.
Additionally, the bleaching solution used during the teeth whitening procedure is more concentrated and potent, so it has a more powerful whitening effect than other options, such as toothpaste or rinses.
Teeth whitening may be a good option for you if you’re looking for a way to achieve brighter teeth. The procedure is relatively simple and can deliver noticeable results in just one or two visits to your dentist.
What Happens During The Teeth Whitening Process?
Selecting a Tooth Shade
Before the procedure begins, your dentist will take photos of your teeth to record your current tooth shade. This will help in determining how many teeth shades your teeth whitened after the procedure. Then, your dentist will guide you in choosing the shade of white you want with the use of a shade guide that consists of a wide variety of tooth shades.
Polishing the Teeth and Applying Protective Gel
Your dentist will polish your teeth with flour-based pumice, which helps remove plaque, giving them a clean slate to work on. Then, cheek retractors will be placed to keep your lips, tongue, and cheeks away from the whitening solution. Next, the dentist may use a rubber shield or apply protective gel along your gumline as a barrier from the bleaching agent.
Coating the Teeth with Whitening Solution
When the target shade has been achieved, your dentist will rinse your teeth and remove any whitening solution residue and the gum barrier. Next, fluoride may be needed to help ease sensitivity.
How Do The Bleaching Products Whiten Your Teeth?
Your teeth are composed of enamel, dentin, and cementum. The enamel is the outer layer or the tooth surface where stains typically lie. The active ingredients in the whitening solution partially penetrate the layers of the teeth, causing a chemical reaction to eliminate molecules that causes discolouration.
Hydrogen peroxide bleaches your teeth and makes them whiter. Dental professionals are trained to use a higher concentration of this ingredient for teeth whitening procedures. The period of time that the solution needs to be on your teeth varies, but it is usually around 15 to 20 minutes. Your dentist may repeat this process multiple times until the desired level of whiteness is achieved.
How Do You Prepare For The Teeth Whitening Procedure?
Now that you know the steps and how the bleaching solutions work on your teeth, it’s time to know how you can prepare yourself for the procedure itself. Preparing can help your treatment go smoothly. Here are the few things you can do before your teeth whitening treatment:
- Schedule a dental checkup. The dentist can evaluate your overall dental health and unique needs to ensure the right whitening treatment is used. Since some tooth stains may not work with any whitening product, it’s a good idea to get an opinion from a professional before moving forward with the procedure. A dental checkup can also help determine if you’re a good candidate for teeth whitening. If you have cavities, decay, or other dental problems, you may want to wait until they’re addressed before teeth whitening.
- Ask about professional cleaning. One thing to keep in mind prior to teeth whitening is whether or not you should get a professional cleaning. Many dentists recommend it beforehand because it can help improve shade colour. If there’s plaque or tartar buildup on your teeth, it can lead to uneven or poor whitening results. If you’re considering whitening, ask your dentist if you should have your teeth cleaned first.
- Consider buying desensitising toothpaste. It’s a good idea to use desensitising toothpaste prior to the whitening. It contains ingredients like potassium nitrate and strontium chloride, which may help to block pain signal transmission from your tooth to the nerves. It may reduce the discomfort you feel during and after the procedure.
- Avoid at-home dental treatments. Whitening strips or bleaching trays can cause increased teeth sensitivity, especially when done improperly. For this reason, it’s best to avoid them completely before your professional whitening treatment. Instead, focus on taking good care of your teeth by brushing twice daily and flossing regularly.
How Long Does The Procedure Last?
Teeth whitening can positively impact your confidence and make you look great by giving dramatic results in your smile. However, while the results are usually immediate, its whitening effects it not permanent.
Generally, a person will see their teeth whitening results last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years before they start to fade. This largely depends on how susceptible your teeth are to staining and how much pigment you consume daily. For example, people who consume large amounts of highly-pigmented foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea, and red wine) tend to have their results fade sooner than those who don’t.
Additionally, some teeth are simply more prone to staining than others. If you think you’re at risk of such instances, touch-ups may be necessary to maintain your desired level of whiteness. Most people can ultimately enjoy long-lasting results from teeth whitening treatments.
Overall, it’s important to remember that teeth whitening only lasts as long as you limit your consumption of certain dark foods and drinks, maintain good oral hygiene habits, and cut back on some habits such as smoking which discolours teeth.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting Your Teeth Whitened?
Aside from brightening your smile, here are some of the fascinating benefits of having your teeth whitened by professionals:
- The results can positively impact your confidence. Many people are concerned about the shade or colour of their teeth, making them feel shy to smile in public. With professional teeth whitening, you can feel good about your teeth and achieve the bright smile you have always wanted.
- It brings a youthful appearance. Having whiter teeth can make you look young than having yellowish teeth.
- It can be one of the most cost-effective cosmetic treatments. Teeth whitening is a budget-friendly treatment that allows you to enhance your smile without breaking the bank. Also, it can be a good investment for you.
- Teeth whitening is personalised. Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits may be tempting because they are often very affordable, but they are not worth the risk. These products are not customised to your teeth, and as a result, they can end up doing more harm than good. Having your teeth professionally whitened is more beneficial for patients, for they are customised to your specific needs, and the dentist can help you to achieve the desired results safely and effectively.
- The procedure is less invasive. Professional whitening treatment can provide stunning results with minimal discomfort. The treatment is simple and quick, and the results are immediately visible. If you’re looking for a way to achieve brighter teeth without undergoing a lengthy and invasive treatment, teeth whitening may be the perfect solution.
Are There Any Risks You Should Know About The Procedure?
Teeth whitening is safe for most dental patients. However, some wonder if it can weaken their teeth or if the whitening agent can be toxic for them. Dentists take every precaution possible to minimise the procedure’s risks and side effects. However, they may occur in some instances:
- Tooth sensitivity. One of the most common side effects of teeth whitening is increased sensitivity. You may experience it after the procedure, but it’s generally temporary and will subside over time. Your dentist may recommend using products that contain potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride gel to help reduce sensitivity.
- Gum irritation. It may occur when the gums become irritated due to contact with the whitening solution. This side effect is usually temporary and will go resolve a few hours after the treatment. However, if you experience severe irritation, you should consult your dentist.
- Allergic reactions. It is rare but can occur in some people. Symptoms may include itchiness, redness, and swelling of the gums or lips. If you have an allergy to one of the ingredients in the bleaching gels, you may be more likely to have an allergic reaction.
- Damage to the enamel surface. Overusing teeth whitening products may result in such problems. It can lead to increased sensitivity and pain.
- Chemical burn. When the bleaching agent comes in contact with the gums, the peroxide in the whitening gel can cause chemical burns, resulting in inflammation and pain.
Suppose you are considering teeth whitening; it’s important to talk to your dentist first. They can help you find a safe and effective method that won’t damage your teeth or put your oral health at risk.
Who Are Not Good Candidates For Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening treatment is an effective method of enhancing one’s smile. However, it may not be the best suitable for everyone. Here is the list of people contraindicated for teeth whitening.
- Patients ages 16 years and below
- Pregnant and lactating women
- People with sensitive teeth
- Patients with existing gum disease, tooth decay, or other dental problems
- People with dental restorations
- Individuals with allergies to common ingredients used in teeth whitening.
- People who expect unrealistic results.
If you have these conditions or circumstances but want to improve the shade of your teeth, there are possible alternatives to achieve your smile goals.
Are There Any Natural Alternatives To Whiten Your Teeth?
As mentioned, there are possible alternatives to professional teeth whitening if your dentist has determined you’re not a good candidate. Fortunately, you can whiten your teeth naturally using products you can see in your home or market. However, the science behind these methods is lacking.
- Dietary changes. Making dietary changes can be effective in reducing the stains on your teeth. Foods and beverages high in tannins, such as wine and tea, can cause staining by binding to the tooth enamel. In addition, acidic foods can wear away the enamel, making the teeth appear yellow. By eliminating these foods from your diet, you can help prevent further staining of your teeth.
- Oil pulling. Oil pulling is a traditional remedy for removing dirt, bacteria, and debris from the mouth with oil. It is not an alternative to regular brushing or flossing, but some research suggests that washing the mouth with certain oils may help whiten the teeth.
- Brushing teeth with baking soda. It is a popular natural way to eliminate tooth stains from the surface of your teeth. If you are concerned about baking soda’s abrasiveness, you can rest assured that studies have shown it to be safe for use on teeth. Regular use can also reduce plaque buildup and prevent tooth decay.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. While no food is a magic bullet for whiter teeth, there are some that may help rub away plaque and extrinsic stains. Pineapple, papaya, and strawberries are all excellent choices, as they contain enzymes that break down plaque buildup.
- Your dental hygiene habits. Maintaining good oral care is the most important thing a person can do to reduce the risk of discolouration. Regular brushing and flossing are essential, so your teeth can look healthy.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
It’s nearly impossible to give prices over a website. The only sure way to know how much your teeth whitening will cost is to book a consultation with your dentist. However, we also understand that you need to know the cost you may expect. It’s essential to note that the given cost may change depending on the assessment of your case.
The average cost for professional teeth whitening may range from $200 to $260 per tooth. At the same time, the average cost of take-home whitening kits is $610.
Teeth whitening procedure is a straightforward and non-invasive treatment. It can be completed in just a few minutes to one hour, and the results can make a big difference in the way you look and feel about yourself. You can immediately see its effects after your first appointment. However, depending on the severity of tooth discolouration, achieving optimal results may take more than one treatment.
Preparing yourself before moving forward with the treatment is best to ensure the process goes smoothly. Additionally, the whitening effects can last longer if you take good care of your teeth. This would include limiting or avoiding dark-coloured foods and beverages. Overall, teeth whitening can be an excellent investment in improving your smile.
If you are interested in teeth whitening, contact Ellen Stirling Dental today at (08) 6192 1036 to schedule a consultation. We are looking forward to help you achieve the beautiful smile you have always wanted.
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