Probably one of the most common services in dentistry these days is tooth whitening-for obvious reasons!
Four ways you can whiten your teeth
Simply, I categorise the ways you can go about whitening your teeth into 4 categories:
- The “Cheapies”
- Home Bleaching
- “Zoom” Type Whitening Systems
- Laser Aided Bleaching
Over-the-counter whitening systems commercially available at different outlets.
- Usually the whitening gel is not pH balanced like the good stuff and means that it is acidic which is bad for teeth
- The delivery trays don’t deliver the material at a low-dose to the correct parts of the teeth
- Not worth it in my opinion!
Home bleaching uses an approved bleach and special trays made for each individual.
- Very controllable
- Much cheaper than Zoom or Laser whitening
- There are many good bleaches on the market now but it’s important to get one with a neutral pH
- Our preferred method
“Zoom” type whitening systems
These add energy to the chemical reaction using typically ultraviolet light, and are faster for the patient.
Laser Aided Bleaching
As you would imagine, laser is used to add energy and therefore speed up the chemical reaction.
On a personal note, looking down my microscope at the few examples I have seen of people who have had laser whitening, I think it looks a bit patchy
Which tooth whitening system do we recommend?
We prefer to use home bleaching and monitoring our patients.
We use a Colgate product which incidentally was the first one in the world to be given the status of a “safe” product for human use! In our surgery we like to follow your progress while you’re whitening just to see how you are going and target specific teeth if necessary.
What to be cautious of when considering bleaching
There are a few situations to be cautious when considering bleaching. Make sure you get your teeth assessed properly before going ahead.
- Fillings and crowns will not change colour with bleaching – If you have fillings (new or old) in the teeth that are visible in your smile or if any of your visible teeth are crowned you may end up with white teeth and dark fillings which potentially could look worse than when you started.
- Your teeth are not aligned properly – Some teeth can look dark because they are in the shadows of their neighbour and not because they are the wrong colour! If you bleach your teeth in this situation the prominent teeth will become lighter and the teeth in the shadow will remain in the shadow and look relatively darker.
- Root filled teeth won’t bleach – Root filled teeth can be quite discoloured (usually grey-black). These teeth will not bleach with external bleaching and require a completely different approach to whitening.
- Some stains may only need polishing & cleaning – Teeth that are discoloured from staining from coffee, tea, smoking or red wine may only need polishing and cleaning rather than bleaching.
- Never bleach if you have decay or gum disease – Finally I would urge you never to bleach your teeth if you have active decay or gum disease so make sure you get a good assessment prior to starting