Tooth whitening is a method of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface or damaging it. Usually, the original shade of the tooth is whitened to a lighter colour, rather than being turned completely white.
Why Would I need my Teeth Whitened?
As we get older our teeth get darker. This is partly due to our getting older, but it is also caused by the foods we eat and drink, and by other habits such as smoking. Tea, coffee, blackcurrant juice, red wine and other foods that have strong colours can have an effect on the overall colour of our teeth. Teeth may also darken as a result of some antibiotics.
Some people naturally have a more grey shade of teeth. Other people have white spots on their teeth. This can be caused by early tooth decay, or illness when the tooth was forming.
There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened. Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth.‘Calculus’ or tartar can also affect the colour of your teeth. Some people may have staining under the enamel surface or tiny cracks can appear in the teeth which take up stains.
What does Teeth Whitening Involve?
Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening. We can assess you first to see whether tooth whitening is suitable for you. We will tell you about the options you have for tooth whitening and which will be the most suitable for you.
The most common type of whitening is called ‘dentist-supervised home whitening’. You will have trays made specially to fit into your mouth like gum-shields. The whitening gel is then put in the trays and you will be given a routine to follow at home.
Another option is called ‘chair-side whitening’. You will be told if you are suitable for the treatment, and we will supervise it.
First we will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect them. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth, again using a specially made tray.
The ‘active ingredient’ in the whitening product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel and dentine of the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter.