If you’re feeling self-conscious about your smile or the whiteness of your teeth, professional-grade teeth whitening treatments really can make a difference to the brightness of your teeth. At Lyndarum Family Dentist we are committed to safe and effective whitening for our patients. Today we’re going to share a few facts about teeth whitening to and explain how teeth whitening works to help you make informed decisions about your oral health.
Your Lifestyle Choices Can Reflect In Your Smile
The whiteness of your teeth can be affected by certain lifestyle choices you make. Smoking tobacco products, drinking lots of strong coffee, red wine or cola can all dull the natural whiteness of your teeth and cause surface or extrinsic stains to develop.
Your Enamel Becomes Thinner As You Age
Believe it or not, dental enamel thins out as we get older. This exposes the dentin in your teeth and, if it is discoloured, makes it much more noticeable.
The Whiteness Of Your Teeth Also Relies On Genetics
Not all aspects of dental health are under your control: some people have naturally whiter teeth than others.
Brushing And Flossing Is Still Important
Twice-daily brushing and flossing keep your mouth clean and free of plaque and tartar build-up but it doesn’t necessarily make a difference to the overall shade of your teeth.
Intrinsic stains can only be removed using high strength bleaching agents. It doesn’t matter how abrasive your whitening toothpaste is: if the dentin of your teeth is stained, you need a product with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide in order to penetrate your tooth enamel.
How Teeth Whitening Works
When the whitening gel is placed on the surface of your teeth it breaks up into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen. Some dentists will use a blue light or laser to activate the bleaching agent and catalyse the whitening process. The gel will be left on for a total of 15 minutes before being wiped off. This process will be repeated three times (to give you a total treatment time of 45-minutes).
It’s a really efficient process, and many of our patients find it convenient enough to visit us during their lunch break and return to the office thereafter.
Professional Teeth Whitening Doesn’t Damage Your Teeth
Let’s make a distinction quickly: there are teeth whitening systems available at your local supermarket or pharmacy, and there are teeth whitening products and services available from your dentist.
When you use a dentist-approved system and have your treatment done under professional supervision, you can look forward to a safe procedure.
When you use over-the-counter products (or abuse the products given to you by your dentist) you do put your teeth at greater risk of damage and tooth sensitivity.
Whitening treatments containing “natural” ingredients like lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and charcoal can damage the enamel of your teeth.
Products that have not been fortified to protect or re-mineralise the teeth while they whiten may also do some damage.
It is also worth noting that professional-grade teeth whitening products can be unsafe if they are not used correctly. Never be tempted to leave your whitening gel on for longer than prescribed, or use the treatment past the recommended treatment duration. This can cause damage to tooth enamel, and cause tooth sensitivity.
You Need The Go-Ahead From Your Dentist
Even if you opt for take-home treatments (or ignore our advice and buy an over-the-counter product like whitening strips or a kit) you need the go-ahead from your dentist first.
This is because your dentist needs to check the strength and integrity of your dental enamel to ensure it is strong enough for the whitening gel. He or she will also need to check that you do not have any cavities, cracks in your enamel or gum disease before moving forward with teeth whitening.
Your dentist will also need to remove any trace of plaque or tartar professionally so that your whitened result is consistent and even.
Your White Smile Won’t Last Forever
But you can make it last longer if you make the appropriate lifestyle changes. Your dentist will give you advice on how to keep your pearly whites looking as bright as possible but that will probably mean cutting out tobacco and certain drinks from your diet and visiting your dentist every six months.
Remember: your teeth are like sponges so they will absorb a lot of what you expose them to. In most cases, patients can expect their brightened smiles to last for up to a year before top-up treatments are considered. Some patients report whiter smiles for up to three years.
Have your dental whitening done by a dental practitioner. While it may be possible to have your whitening done in a beauty parlour or salon, your dentist is the best person to turn to for professional teeth whitening and long-lasting results.
Interested in how teeth whitening can transform your smile? We’d love to hear from you. Please contact us for an appointment: 03 9626 9581.