Lighten the colour of your teeth
Teeth whitening is the use of bleaching agents to lighten the colour of the teeth. The normal colour of tooth enamel varies between individuals depending on surface staining due to lifestyle (e.g. smoking, tea, coffee), age, poor oral hygiene, certain medicines (such as tetracycline), dental problems and developmental defects. Your dentist is best qualified to assess your situation and whether a bleaching treatment would be appropriate.
A dental history and proper dental examination will usually be required before bleaching treatment can be commenced. Sometimes if a patient has other dental problems such as tooth decay or gum disease they must be treated first. Factors which can be a contraindication for bleaching are discolouration caused by medicines or fluoride, tooth sensitivity, malformed enamel, gum disease and the presence of heavily filled teeth.
It is important to have realistic expectations; most patients have whiter teeth following treatment but it is uncertain to what degree depending on the individual. How long whitening treatments last depend on a person’s smoking, drinking, eating and oral hygiene habits.
Professional whitening treatments may be performed in the dental chair. First your dentist protects your lips and gums with rubber sealants or gels, then applies a bleaching agent to the tooth surfaces. A high intensity light can be shone into your mouth to accelerate the bleaching process, multiple sessions may be required and each session can take about an hour.
At home whitening with bleaching trays can be used to augment the results of in chair treatments or as a separate treatment by itself. Your dentist will need to take a mould of your teeth to make plastic trays to fit your mouth, then gives you tubes of bleaching gel and instructions. You then wear the gel-filled trays anywhere between an hour and overnight depending on the type of gel. Most patients will need to wear the mouth trays every day for a few weeks.
Problems you may experience as part of dental whitening treatments are; tooth discomfort or pain, sensitivity, sore and irritated gums or soft tissues, white patches along the gum line, mouth ulcers or a sore throat.