Tooth Whitening Demystified

Tooth Whitening Demystified

There are many myths and rumours surrounding tooth whitening treatments. Clarifying the various options can help make it easier to decide which treatment is right for you.

‘In-chair’ or ‘in office’ whitening involves a dental professional placing a protective barrier on your gums, then preparing a mixture of bleaching gel and applying it to your teeth. The effectiveness of the treatment is related to how concentrated the whitening gel is and the length of time it is left on your teeth. Put simply, the bleaching process involves the oxidization of the discoloured organic stains on the surface of your teeth. It does not permeate your tooth and is safe to use.

There is a misconception about the use of ‘lasers’ to whiten your teeth. Often, the whitening gel is activated via the use of blue light to speed up the process of oxidization and to shorten the time ‘in the chair’. There is no such thing as laser whitening.

Some people have reported pain or sensitivity during or after a whitening procedure. Patients may experience discomfort if they have existing areas of gum recession, resulting in the root surface of the tooth being exposed. The root is more permeable or porous than the rest of the tooth because it is not covered by enamel, leading to sensitivity. Teeth with existing restorations such as fillings may also be more sensitive to whitening procedures. In both cases, the sensitivity is not permanent and will usually resolve within several hours. You may also experience dry mouth after whitening due to temporary dehydration of the teeth and gums during treatment. This should resolve quickly after the procedure. You should always talk to your dentist about any existing dental issues prior to undergoing whitening procedures.

In-office whitening produces a faster, more pronounced result than at-home treatment, however a nice result can be achieved with at-home whitening trays. Typically, a custom-made tray is filled with a solution of whitening gel and the patient wears it for one to two hours per day over a period of approximately two weeks. While the results are comparable to the in-chair whitening, they are achieved over a longer period of time and the colour of the teeth may not be as white as expected. With either of the systems, occasional touch ups are recommended to maintain the shade achieved during treatment.

At Expat Dental we offer Zoom! in-office whitening treatment with follow up take home trays for touch-ups or longer term brightening. This ensures that your white smile lasts long after the in-office visit.

Dr Maria Raskina recently joined Expat Dental. Find out more about Dr Maria Raskina here.

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