Teeth whitening is a popular procedure being carried out by many dental experts for both health and cosmetic reasons. Whilst some people may decide to purchase a DIY whitening kit to use at home, it is much more advisable to speak to your dental practitioner who will be able to perform the procedure safely and give you the best results.
For many people, undergoing a teeth whitening procedure has been claimed to bring them a new lease of life, not just in their smile or overall appearance, but in their confidence too.
But how does it actually work?
Reasons for Teeth Whitening
Each of our teeth is made up of an inner layer – the dentin – and an outer protective layer – the enamel. Over time, food and drink build up and accumulate to form a third layer of foreign matter over the teeth. This can usually be removed with the regular use of toothpaste, a whitening toothpaste, mouthwash or a dentist’s scale and polish.
However, if left for long enough, this foreign layer can get into the enamel and make the tooth appear discoloured. (There may also be other reasons for a tooth appearing discoloured, such as the nerve dying.) This is usually when people look for other ways of restoring lightness to their teeth, either by abrasively removing the matter or bleaching it.
The Process of Teeth Whitening
There are two main types of teeth whitening Liverpool services that dental practitioners will offer. One is with the use of a whitening gel, which is applied to the teeth repeatedly over a specified period of time, either in-office or at home.
The dentist will take an impression of the patient’s teeth to make them their own custom mouthguard. In an in-office procedure, he/she will use this to apply the whitening formula onto the teeth, leaving it for several minutes before rinsing it off and starting again. He/she will likely repeat this several times, and the results can be 4-6 shades lighter in one 40 minute session.
In an at-home procedure, the dentist will instruct the patient how to correctly apply the whitening gel to their own teeth using the mouthguard. He/she will specify how many times it should be applied, over what period of time, and how long the gel should be left within each application.
The second type of teeth whitening service is laser whitening (sometimes called power whitening). This uses a bleaching product, which is applied to the teeth in-office, and a laser, which is then shone onto the teeth to activate the bleach. This process takes around an hour to complete.
How Does It Work?
Whitening gels will often use one of two chemical agents: carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These set off a chemical reaction when used in the mouth – namely oxidation – that breaks down the unwanted compounds on the tooth’s surface.
A dentist will tailor the use of one or both of these agents to suit their patient’s needs. Before starting treatment, he/she will also clean the patient’s teeth, fill any cavities and check that the gums are healthy.
What to Know
Whilst the results of teeth whitening can be fantastic, it should be noted that they are not permanent, and can last anywhere from six months to three years. The effects will wear off faster if you smoke, or drink red wine, tea or coffee regularly.
Patients with decayed teeth, infected gums, white spots on their teeth or multiple fillings/crowns may not always be good candidates for teeth whitening, so its important to speak with a dentist first. Even if you do not fall into any of these categories, it is wise to remember that not everyone will see results after the procedure. It is best to talk to your dentist about the likely outcome so you can have realistic expectations and make an informed decision.