What is teeth whitening?
Imagine for a moment the inside of a tooth. The structure is similar to coral in that there’s a network of gaps inside. Over time, drinks like tea, coffee and red wine can enter those gaps, and stain your teeth. When a whitening gel is applied, it simply goes in and clears out those stains. It’s not penetrating the inner structure of your tooth.
Is it safe?
Teeth whitening is a safe procedure. I know this from both research that I read, and decades of personal experience with my own patients. We’ve found that for the majority of patients who’ve had the procedure, they don’t report ongoing pain or sensitivity in the long term. Whitening your teeth is also safe because it works ‘with’ your teeth structure – it’s not damaging the inner core.
I won’t walk out with a dazzling “Hollywood” smile, will I?
No, teeth whitening doesn’t do that. Most patients I speak to are looking for a more natural appearance and are pleased when I reassure them that that’s the outcome they’re likely to get. Of course, if you are looking for that “Hollywood” look, it can be done but you’ll need to get fake porcelain teeth or veneers.
What’s the difference between whitening in your surgery and home-based treatments?
The benefit of coming to us for the procedure is that we’re able to use stronger whitening gels in the surgery which we activate using special lights. In one hour, you have a brighter smile, so its quick and easy. When you buy a home DIY kit you apply the gel to a mouthguard or tray, then pop it in your mouth for 30 to 60 minutes a day for a few weeks. The advantage of the home-based kits is the convenience; you’re at home! You can make the treatment fit your lifestyle, so you might do your whitening while you watch TV for example. Many people though, like the ‘instant gratification’ of the ‘in surgery’ whitening!
Which one’s the most effective option?
The latest research from the Australian Dental Association suggests that a ‘one-two’ approach is best. That is, an initial treatment ‘in the chair’ followed by home-based kits is the most effective plan. And I’ve found that many of my patients with darker long-term tooth staining really do need that two stage treatment. When your teeth have been stained over many years, a single one-hour session isn’t going to be enough to undo the changes. You’re going to need that initial ‘burst’ of cleaning in the surgery, then that longer-term followup treatment at home.
What happens if I fall asleep at home while using a DIY whitening kit?
I understand your concern, but it’s OK. Research has shown that teeth whitening gel does most of its work in the first 60 minutes, then pretty much ‘stops’ after that. So if you fall asleep with your tray or mouthguard in, you won’t “over-whiten” or damage your teeth. And by the same token if you decide to keep it in overnight, you don’t actually get any more benefit than if you just used it for an hour during the day.