There are very few people in the world who have naturally straight white teeth. As a specialist orthodontic office on the Gold Coast, we are the experts when it comes to straightening teeth using orthodontic appliances such as braces or invisalign and being in the business of creating beautiful smiles, we often get asked about tooth whitening.
Causes of Teeth Discoloration
Children’s teeth are naturally whiter than adult teeth for a number of reasons. This can be due to the use of tobacco products, coffee, tea, red wine and sugary drinks like coke and energy drinks. It can also be due to being born with certain conditions which can make your teeth more prone to staining.
Types of Teeth Whitening
There are too many types of teeth whitening to mention them all here but we will cover a few of the take home options as well as the in-office whitening options.
- Whitening Strips—Strips are thin and coated with a peroxide-based gel. You apply the strip two times a day for approximately 30 minutes for two weeks. Within a few days you should see results.
- Whitening Gels—These are also peroxide-based but are applied with a brush directly to the surface of the teeth. To see results, you apply the gel two times a day for two weeks.
- Whitening Toothpaste—-There really is no “whitening toothpaste.” Just about all toothpaste help remove surface stains, because they contain some form of abrasive. Depending on how mild or strong the abrasive, some may even cause sensitivity but they will not bleach your teeth.
- Whitening Rinses— these products claim that by swishing the rinse in your mouth for 60 seconds twice a day before brushing your teeth, you can see results of whiter teeth within 12 weeks. The whitening rinse contains hydrogen peroxide as the agent to bleach your teeth. However, swallowing any of the hydrogen peroxide or using it more frequently, may cause damage to your gums. WARNING: Strips and gels keep the active agent away from your gums, but rinses may cause damage to the delicate gum tissues.
- Teeth Whiteners with Custom Trays—Dentists can make you custom trays and supply you with a kit of whitening gel (usually in syringes) that you apply to the tray and place over your teeth. The whitening material is made of the active ingredient carbamideperoxide ranging between 10–15% in strength. You wear the trays for 2-4 hours a day and within a few days you should see results. Some people have reported using their invisalign aligners as bleaching trays.
- In-office Whitening—This is by far the fastest and also the most expensive option for teeth whitening. A dentist will carefully apply the gel to each tooth and keep it away from the gums. This type of whitening uses the strongest form of carbamide peroxide, usually between 12–44 %. A high intensity light may be used, which doesn’t necessarily make your teeth any whiter, but can accelerate the process.. You should see immediate results with this 60–90 minute procedure. Your dentist may ask you to return for an additional appointment for touch ups.
Are You a Good Candidate?
There are risks associated with tooth whitening so we recommend you visit a dentist for a consultation on whether you are a good candidate for teeth whitening and which method would be effective for you.
If you experience any of the following you should avoid whitening and consult a dentist:
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
- Defective fillings
- Tooth decay
If you are allergic to peroxide, have any crowns or are pregnant or breast-feeding, you should avoid teeth whitening. Children under the age of 16 should not bleach their teeth as their teeth may still be developing and any strong whitening solutions can irritate the pulp that houses the nerve tissue, resulting in sensitivity and pain.
How to Prevent Sensitive Teeth During Teeth Whitening
Most people experience some sensitivity during teeth whitening whether it is a take home kit or done by the dentist.
TIP: One of the best ways to prevent sensitivity is to use a concentrated fluoride product on your teeth a few days prior to teeth whitening, the teeth can become remineralised and therefore less permeable to the peroxide ingredient used.