Tooth whitening is a way of lightening the natural colour of teeth using bleaching methods.
Reasons of teeth discoloration
As you get older, your teeth can become darker naturally. This process is often increased by drinking tea, coffee, red wine or other food and drink with strong colourings. Another major cause is smoking, which can make your teeth appear yellowed. Tooth decay, fillings and tartar build-up can also contribute to discolouration. Some types of staining can be caused by diseases or medicines.
Simple ways to improve the appearance of discoloured teeth include:
- regularly having your teeth scaled and polished to remove any tartar that has built up
- following advice about preventing tooth decay
- brushing regularly
- stopping smoking
- cutting down on strong-coloured food and drink to stop stains returning
Whitening toothpastes are slightly abrasive, which may help to remove surface staining, but they don’t alter the natural shade of your teeth.
Professional tooth whitening techniques:
- Professional bleaching
It’s a common form of teeth whitening The treatment must be done in stages and generally takes 3 to 4 weeks to complete. Generally whitening product is put for 30-60 minutes per treatment. There are also treatments which are available where the product could be applied for up to 8 hours, meaning that results could be seen within one week.
- Professional internal bleaching
This is a process where the bleaching product is placed within the tooth. This is only done on teeth which have been root treated, where the blood vessels and nerves have been replaced that’s why it’s completely painless. Generally a week later the filling and bleach are removed then the teeth are filled with colored filling. This technique may be combined with others to give the required shade.
- Laser whitening
Laser whitening (also known as power whitening) is where a rubber dam is put over the teeth protecting the gums, then a bleaching agent is painted onto the teeth. Once this is done a laser is beamed on to the teeth activating the bleaching agent. This type of whitening makes the teeth up to 5 or 6 times lighter.
- Teeth veneers
For a longer lasting solution it may be worth while to look into teeth veneers, it will give you the best results and last the longest, with this treatment the teeth are actually covered by a material such as porcelain which is then bonded to your teeth.
How long will the whitening last?
The whitening effects of different bleaching methods can last for up to three years, but this varies from person to person. It’s important to bear in mind that bleaching doesn’t always result in the whiteness that you expect. The results vary from person to person and depend on the shade of your teeth before bleaching. Therefore, it’s important to discuss all the possible options for improving the appearance of your teeth with your dentist.