At Best Smiles Cosmetic Dentistry, we pride ourselves on being the leading edge of our profession. This means providing you with diagnostic and treatment technology every bit as advanced as the exceptional care we provide. In recent years, more people are paying for brighter, whiter teeth. You may have questions and concerns with teeth whitening. Does it work and is it safe? Here are the answers to common questions about this type of treatment.
Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter. Teeth whitening will not make your teeth brilliant white, but it will lighten the existing color by several shades. Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be performed by a dentist or a dental hygienist or dental therapist, on the prescription of a dentist.
If you have teeth whitening you will make several visits to the dentist over a couple of months. They will take an impression of your teeth to make a mouthguard and teach you how to use it with a bleaching gel. You will use the mouthguard at home, you regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over several weeks. Some whitening gels can be left on for up to 8 hours at a time, which can shorten the treatment period to 1 week.
An alternative type of teeth whitening system provided by a dentist is called laser whitening. This is also called power whitening. A bleaching product is painted onto your teeth and then a laser light is shone on them to activate the whitening. This takes about an hour.
Home kits are also an altrnative to going to the dentist but some of them do not contain enough of the whitening product to be effective. If a dental professional is not doing the whitening, the mouthguard provided may not fit properly so some of the bleaching gel may leak out onto your gums and into your mouth, causing blistering and sensitivity. Otherwise, teeth whitening by a dentist or other dental professional can only be done privately because it's considered to be a cosmetic treatment. Costs vary and, as a general rule, laser whitening is more expensive than professional bleaching.
Your dentist will advise you whether whitening is right for you. It may be that teeth whitening isn't suitable, for example if you have gum disease or crowns.
Teeth whitening isn't permanent. It can last from a few months to up to 3 years, but this varies from person to person. Generally, the whitening effect won't last as long if you smoke or drink red wine, tea or coffee, which can all stain your teeth. Teeth whitening won't work on dentures, crowns, fillings or veneers.
No matter what treatment you use, there is a chance your gums can be sensitive to the chemicals used in teeth whitening, especially if you already have sensitive teeth. There's also a chance of burns to gums and some of the whitening kits used at home can harm tooth enamel.