Having a bright white smile is something everyone wants, but it’s also okay to worry if teeth whitening is bad for your teeth. We know that sometimes cosmetic procedures may not be the best choice for us and our bodies, but is the same true for our teeth? Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Teeth Whitening & What Actually Happens to Your Teeth?
Before getting right into the thick of it, it is important to first understand what exactly teeth whitening does. Over time, our teeth can be prone to staining. This could happen as a result of drinking too much coffee or tea, smoking or even simply aging. The process of changing either the intrinsic or extrinsic colour of the enamel is called teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening can be done using bleaching or non-bleaching products. The most prominent ingredient in bleaching products is peroxide (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These products remove both surface stains as well as deep stains on teeth and can cause teeth to turn lighter than their natural shade.
Alternatively, non-bleaching products may use abrasive materials to remove surface stains. Essentially, think of it like scrubbing a dirty dish. You’re simply removing the dirt and stains from the white surface underneath. However, our tooth enamel can also be removed via this method, making for weaker teeth.
What Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments Are There?
There are many different types of teeth whitening treatments to choose from. These include:
Teeth Whitening at the Dentist’s Office
It is usually always recommended to get your teeth whitened by a professional teeth whitening dentist. This is because a dentist can offer you the best whitening options and tailor them to your specific needs. Furthermore, they will supervise a treatment plan to avoid complications that could arise.
In most cases, professional whitening procedures can be completed in about 1 hour. It usually involves application of a tooth whitening gel containing between 25% to 40% hydrogen peroxide. After the gel is applied to your teeth, the dentist will then use a special heating lamp on your teeth for about three 20-minute intervals. Between each of the intervals, the dentist may reapply the gel.
In some instances, dentists may also use a laser. This method is reported to speed up or activate the whitening process. Since the gel can be harmful to your gums, lips and tongue, a protective barrier will be used to shield them.
After the procedure, the dentist will usually provide whitening trays that are made from a mould of your teeth, so you can continue the follow-up process at home with additional bleaching solutions.
Convenient Over-the-Counter At-Home Whitening Kits
There are over-the-counter (OTC) products that are relatively cheaper than seeing a dentist and they are fairly easy to use. These kits usually contain a smaller amount of peroxide, like that which is used by a dentist. This means that results will be relatively slower than if you were to get it done professionally though. OTC whitening kits come in the form of trays, strips, toothpastes and rinses.
Whitening trays are made out of flexible plastic that is formed from the mould of your teeth. The fitted tray ensures that bleach stays on the teeth and doesn’t get diluted by saliva. Generally, it is better to get a tray moulded by your dentist rather than OTC trays. This is because the OTC trays may not fit the teeth precisely, leading to leakage of bleach and sensitive gums.
Whitening strips are made from a thin, flexible plastic and are treated with a low concentration of bleaching product. The strips are placed on the teeth for a duration of 30 minutes and are then discarded. They can be worn while doing other activities, which makes them super convenient. Most people tend to use whitening strips twice daily for two weeks.
Whitening rinses are fairly similar to your regular old mouthwash. In addition to containing active ingredients which promote fresh breath and reduce dental plaque and gum disease, these products also contain bleaching agents, such as peroxide, to help whiten teeth. Manufacturers recommend rinsing twice a day and waiting for up to 12 weeks to see results.
Whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives such as silica, aluminium oxide, calcium carbonate and baking soda. These products do not contain bleach like other whitening products and usually work well only to remove surface stains rather than deep-set stains.
While there certainly are a range of at-home whitening treatments around, for better, long-lasting results, it is always recommended to go to a dentist for any whitening treatments.
What Makes Whitening Your Teeth a Good Idea?
- Gain a cosmetic advantage – Discoloured teeth are usually considered unattractive, with people tending to prefer white smiles. This is particularly important if you are doing any client or customer-facing work, or are looking to become more of a public face.
- OTC whitening kits make whitening more accessible – These kits are ideal for those who want a cheaper alternative, albeit with slower results. However, make sure to seek advice from your dentist first to know the best whitening kit to use.
- Professional whitening yields immediate results – Professional dentists can tailor a treatment to fit your needs and ensure you obtain quick results. People tend to see a difference after as little as 2 weeks.
What Should You Be Concerned About When It Comes to Teeth Whitening?
- Your teeth may become more sensitive or hurt – Whitening products tend to cause discomfort. For those who have sensitive teeth to begin with, it can be quite painful to endure the process.
- The results are rarely permanent without regular upkeep – How long the effects last usually varies from person to person. If you have a regular smoking habit or tend to drink loads of coffee or tea, you may find stains are difficult to budge and come back quickly.
- You may need to rethink your eating and drinking habits – In order to maintain those white teeth, you might have to avoid certain food and drinks that are more likely to stain.
- It is not for everyone – If you have veneers, crowns, caps or fillers, teeth whitening will not work for you. You will still be left with some discoloration in the end.
So, Is Teeth Whitening Truly Safe for You & Your Teeth?
Teeth whitening is considered safe for most people and the best candidates are those who only have mild to moderate discoloration. Additionally, it is always recommended to opt for professional dentist treatment as opposed to OTC treatment options in order to maximise results and reduce any potential risks.
As discussed previously, tooth whitening may not even work for some people. The best way to know whether teeth whitening is for you is to speak to your dentist so that they can point you in the right direction and avoid any problems.
How Abbotsford Dental Can Help
Abbotsford Dental Clinic is entirely focused on providing only the best of the best to all our patients. We take your specific dental situation into consideration and offer the best advice and advanced solutions tailored to you. Our highly trained staff always go above and beyond to ensure that you are well looked after. As we work closely with local dental laboratories, we can guarantee that we maintain quality control in every procedure from start to finish.
So if you are looking for a dentist near Richmond or Kew to help you with any cosmetic or general dental needs, then look no further. Contact us at 03 9410 1077 for teeth whitening and more in Melbourne today!