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Teeth Whitening: All You Need To Know

Have you been wondering about teeth whitening and the effectiveness or safety of the process? Have you been questioning if your teeth whitening toothpastes actually work? In our blog this week we take a look at the effectiveness of whitening products and procedures including teeth whitening toothpaste and chewing gum, teeth whitening strips and kits, and in chair procedures.

Let’s start at the top. The natural shade of your teeth ranges from a light off-grey (off-white) to slightly more yellow in tint, and over time your teeth will change in colour naturally as you age. Staining is another factor, particularly if you drink certain fluids like wine, coffee or dyed sodas on a regular basis. Smoking cigarettes is another major cause of premature staining.

Surface staining can also be prevented by regular care. Brushing after meals helps stains from forming, as long as you wait 30 minutes or more after consuming anything acidic.

White teeth matter to all of us because the shade of our teeth is often the first thing anyone notices about our smile. You should be proud of your smile, and thankfully whiter teeth are within reach, as long as you stick to this guide, presented by the good folks at Pathway Dental. Remember, at Pathway Dental, we offer some of the services below, and your dentist can recommend the best, safest course of action when whitening your smile.

What Shade Are My Teeth?

There is no one set guide for measuring the shade of teeth, but our dentists often use a ‘Shade Guide’ to show the range of colour for teeth, and contrast the shade your teeth are currently with the shade you wish to achieve with any whitening treatment. A change of just a few shades can make a huge visual difference, so don’t go too far with your whitening. There is such a thing as an unnatural brightness, depending on the shade of your skin.

Whitening Toothpaste & Chewing Gum

Surface whiteners, such as whitening toothpaste and whitening chewing gum, don’t substitute for other professional products or services. But they do provide some basic benefits, namely preventative ones. Ingredients like titanium dioxide, baking soda and others improve the abrasiveness of gum or paste on your teeth, helping to avoid stains from forming in the first place. They won’t actually brighten your teeth however, that requires professional tools and bleach. Over the counter sugar free gum and toothpastes that boast whitening don’t cause any harm, and regular use can help prevent stains, but that’s about it.

There are also certain whitening toothpastes with bleaching ingredients, but these should only be used as directed by your dentist and are not typically available over the counter. You may also find certain rinses boasting whitening abilities, but whitening is at most a secondary benefit to killing bacteria, and mouth rinses only work when used as directed over longer periods of time.

Teeth Whitening Strips

Teeth whitening strips or ‘white strips’ come in a variety of strengths and brands, and work by moulding thin pieces of disposable plastic called polyethylene to the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide are used to whiten the teeth and break down bacteria that cause stains. The strips are clinically proven to whiten your teeth at a reasonable cost, IF used properly over time. However, teeth whitening strips only whiten the surface of teeth and do not reach around the sides of teeth very well. The effects of teeth whitening strips are required to be marked on the box, and the price varies with the strength. Keep in mind that the effects are limited, so don’t expect the same results as you would from in-chair whitening or take-home trays.

Teeth Whitening Kits and Take-Home Trays

One of the most popular and effective methods for teeth whitening are our custom-made take home teeth whitening kits with bleaching gel. These teeth whitening kits are custom made to fit your mouth and include bleaching gel and instructions individualised to help you achieve the shade you desire. After your appointment you can do your teeth whitening at home. Because they are customised, it’s very important to use at home teeth whitening kits properly and as advised by your dentist.

Laser Teeth Whitening

For a truly radiant smile and the largest improvement in a short period of time, you can brighten your teeth four full shades in just minutes with laser teeth whitening. Custom trays or dental dams along with a custom gel mixed to specifications you decide with your dentist are very effective and fast. Your dentist can speed up the process using Zoom Laser Whitening or similar procedure. With laser whitening, a hot, blue light is used to speed up the gel’s effects and allows the dentist to monitor progress.

Chair-side laser teeth whitening is more effective in a shorter time, but it also uses higher levels of chemicals like hydrogen peroxide that cause increased tooth sensitivity or discomfort for about 24 hours after the procedure. If you are already prone to sensitive teeth you may be advised to use a take-home treatment, which typically uses lower levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Whitening False Teeth, Crowns & Veneers

Your dentist can whiten false teeth to match your real ones. If you have a false tooth, crown or veneers that have been stained or don’t match your real teeth as well as they should, your dentist is now able to take that into account and offer colouring to match. If you have had a veneer or crown for a long time, it may also be time for a replacement, as they don’t last forever. We can do that for you – just give us a call on 03 366 8866.

Teeth Whitening – Different Types Of Bleaching

There are two types of bleaching used by our dentists. The first is called ‘Vital Bleaching’ and is used to whiten living teeth. ‘Non-Vital Bleaching’ is used for teeth that are considered dead, where a root canal has been performed. This is used to brighten your teeth from the inside out. If you suffer from gum disease or other medical condition, your dentist may recommend against bleaching. Which brings us to the next question, which is often asked by so many who are considering whitening…

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

A common misconception is that teeth whitening is dangerous or bad for your teeth. This misinformation comes from older methods of bleaching, which were too strong and damaged enamel on teeth. Today, bleaches for teeth and other methods take enamel into account and there are blocks in the ingredients that protect your teeth from the bleach. Other technology, like lasers and improved studies on teeth themselves, have made procedures safer. Still, if you don’t need whiter teeth, your dentist won’t recommend bleaching them “just because”. You’ll also need to follow any safety instructions given to avoid damaging your teeth AFTER whitening them.

If you would like more information about teeth whitening or are looking for a dentist who is knowledgeable, gentle and who is interested in finding the very best treatment options for you, then give us a call on 03 366 8866 or click here to make an appointment. We understand that great dental health boosts your confidence. That is how we make a difference.