Cambridge City Dental

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Thinking About Tooth Whitening? Here Are A Few Things To Consider

Most of us at some point desire a whiter, brighter smile. What you may not realise is that not all teeth whitening products are created equal.  In fact, some over-the-counter teeth whitening products contain harsh bleaches and peroxides that can actually do more harm than good. These products can actually damage teeth enamel in the long term.

Having your teeth whitened by a dental professional is a great option for anyone who desires a whiter, brighter smile. If you are considering this procedure here’s what you should know before booking your consultation:

1. Why should I get my Teeth Whitened?

A professional tooth whitening procedure is an effective, quick and affordable way to help achieve a whiter smile. Natural-looking bright, white teeth can help improve the appearance of your smile, boost your confidence as well as enhance your self-esteem. Yellow teeth can contribute to signs of aging, therefore, a whiter smile can help to make you look younger. There are a number of reasons people consider teeth whitening. Some of these reasons may be to improve your appearance every day of the year or to enhance your smile for a special upcoming event such as a wedding, birthday or job interview.  Whatever the reason may be professional teeth whitening is a fantastic non-surgical, affordable, and relatively quick option to improve the appearance of your smile.

2. What are the causes of Tooth Discolouration

Tooth discolouration is a natural process – often associated with aging – but as with any physical feature some people’s teeth are just naturally whiter than others. Dentine naturally yellows with age, and as the enamel that covers teeth wears and gets thinner, the dentine beneath becomes more visible.

As well as the natural aging process, tooth discolouration and staining can be caused by a number of lifestyle and biological factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • Trauma to teeth
  • The use of some antibiotics in early childhood
  • Drinking coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Eating richly coloured foods like blueberries
  • The accumulation of tartar and plaque (which is another reason regular dental check ups are so important).

Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years, ensuring tooth staining and discolouration can be reversed safely and effectively with professional teeth whitening at a dental clinic.

3. What about over the counter and DIY whitening kits?

Biological and lifestyle factors can contribute to tooth staining and yellowing. While over the counter and DIY bleaching kits are readily accessible and happen to be a cheaper option for those on a budget these kits can be very damaging to the teeth. Over the counter and DIY kits contain chemicals at a high percentage which over time produce the opposite result due to the fact that they cause further wear on tooth enamel, therefore, revealing the dentine underneath.

Supermarket bleaching products or products purchased online can be harmful to health and have the potential to cause gum burns, gum irritation and damage to the oesophagus or stomach. While there are many online “home bleaching” remedies such as lemon juice or baking soda these products are acidic and abrasive and can cause significant damage to your teeth.

4. What are the benefits of getting my teeth professionally whitened at a Dental Clinic?

If you are after a whiter brighter smile, it’s important to leave your tooth whitening procedure to the hands of a dental professional. This ensures your procedure is carried out in a safe and effective manner helping you to achieve long lasting results.

5: What is the difference between in chair whitening and take home whitening?

We have many patients ask us whether there are differences between take-home teeth whitening kits and the Zoom in-chair laser treatment. The differences are quite significant, but there are no hard and fast rules for choosing either.

Which procedure you decide to choose all comes down to personal preference, how much you are willing to spend on tooth whitening as well as your pain tolerance.

The Zoom professional whitening option is slightly more costly compared to home-use solutions but provides a safer method to whitening as it is performed by a dental professional and happens to provide faster results. For those with more sensitive teeth who do not mind a longer process a professional take home whitening kit would be recommend. This procedure is also slightly less expensive.

An added bonus of the take home kit is that you are able to maintain your results for as long as you desire. Refill bleach tubes are able to be purchased through the practice. 

6: Why do some people prefer in chair bleaching compared to take home bleaching?

This comes down to a number of factors. The first is speed. People who are time poor prefer the Zoom whitening method as this takes a single appointment and gives immediate results compared to professional whitening kits which can take several weeks before results are seen. This is the preferred method for those who are not in a hurry and who suffer from tooth sensitivity.

Another reason is safety as explained above the in chair bleaching method means a specially trained dental professional is the one applying the bleaching agent. Your dentist will use safety measures such as protective goggles, gels and lip retractor in order to minimise exposure between your gums, soft tissue areas and the bleaching gel.

The last factor is Cost. The Zoom 3 in chair whitening treatment costs $715. By comparison, the home bleaching kits are more affordable, priced at $490.

7: Does the in chair procedure cause sensitivity?

This is a tricky question to answer. 50% of patients experience little to no sensitivity and are able to sit through the entire procedure. The other 50% of patients are unable to complete the full four rounds due to sensitivity.

There are a few things that you can do at home to tackle sensitivity. The first is to start using sensitive toothpaste for at least 1 month prior to the procedure. The 2nd is to source a product called GC Tooth Moose and again use this 1 month prior. These products can help decrease sensitivity.

8: Is there anything else I must be aware of before I bleach?

Yes, there is! You must have a check up and clean prior to the procedure. The reason for this is we do not want to be placing and bleaching agents on areas which may have decay. This will make the procedure painful and uncomfortable as areas which are decayed are porous.

A clean is required to ensure the teeth are free from debris, plaque and tartar buildup. This is recommended at least a few days to a week prior to the procedure. By ensuring the teeth are free from buildup we can ensure an even bleaching result. Teeth which are bleached without having a scale and clean prior can end in a result which is uneven and patchy.

If you have fillings, crowns or veneers on your front teeth these also will not whiten and may have to be replaced if you wish for your teeth to be one uniform colour.

In conclusion, it is important to be realistic with your results. Some patients expect their teeth to come out paper white and sometimes this is not the case. We do see results up to 6 shades whiter, however, the end result does depend on the condition and shade of your teeth, to begin with. Your teeth will also appear whiter straight after the procedure as they are dehydrated. As your teeth begin to build up hydration that is when you will start to see the end result.