Do you avoid smiling because you are embarrassed about the colour of your teeth? If yellowing or stains on your teeth are affecting your confidence, a teeth whitening treatment may be worth considering.
As we get older, it is natural for our teeth to darken. Consuming certain foods and beverages, smoking stains as well as poor oral hygiene will cause teeth discolouration. The good news is that these “external” stains can be removed by your dentist. A regular professional dental clean will keep these stains to a minimum. Regular flossing and brushing also helps to reduce stains, keeping your teeth and gums at optimum health.
If you have naturally “dark” teeth or have teeth that came through already discoloured, conventional polishing techniques won’t work. However, don’t despair as there are a number of options available. The first step when considering professional teeth whitening is a consultation with your dentist. If you have old and stained fillings or crowns, your dentist may recommend replacements as only natural teeth will be affected by the whitening agent.
Professional whitening involves application of a whitening gel containing between 25% to 40% hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, activated using ultraviolet light or a laser. A protective barrier is used during the whitening procedure to keep your gums and lips away from the whitening gel. You can usually see immediate results, although if your starting shade is very dark, you may need multiple in chair sessions or follow up with a take home whitening kit to see desirable results.
At home whitening trays involves wearing custom fitted trays with a lower concentration of the whitening agent for a period of time depending on your dentist’s instructions. The tray is yours to keep and you can purchase additional gels from your dentist should you wish to whiten your teeth in future.
While teeth whitening handled by a dental professional poses very little risk, you may experience some side effects from treatments. Your teeth may become more sensitive following treatment especially to hot and cold foods or beverages and in most cases the sensitivity will diminish with time. You may also experience gum irritation if the whitening product comes into contact with your gums. This side effect should go away with time.
You may also see different whitening options online or in your local grocery or drugstore. The concentration of these whitening agents is lower than what your dentist would use. These over the counter whitening kits may be cheaper and offer the convenience of at home whitening without a visit to the dentist but may be less effective than professional whitening.
Remember, results from teeth whitening are not permanent, so the best way to have white teeth and keep them white is great oral hygiene, having a sensible diet, flossing and brushing correctly and regular checkups at your dentist.