Teeth whitening is a simple procedure used to lighten the colour of your teeth to a desired shade. A variety of methods are available: home whitening involves the use of a clear gum shield into which a whitening agent is applied and then worn overnight. The other method,which is carried out in surgery and offers more immediate results, involves the application of a gel and laser treatment.
Your dentist will advise you on the shade best suited to you and the appropriate treatment method.
Teeth whitening treatments lighten the teeth with the use of Hydrogen Peroxide (bleach). Whitening can be applied to the outside of the teeth to brighten their appearance, or to the inside of the root canal for teeth that have had diseased roots.
It may be necessary to have other dental treatments prior to whitening; whitening treatments can only be applied to healthy teeth and gums. A visit to the dental hygienist is also recommended prior to treatment, to give the teeth a thorough clean and to remove any surface stains.
Tooth coloured fillings and replacement teeth (e.g. crowns and implants) will not lighten with these treatments.
Teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold food and drink for a few days after the whitening treatment, but this is a temporary effect.
There are 2 options for bleaching the outside of the teeth: -
Dental Surgery Whitening
Whitening treatment in a dental surgery offers faster results than the alternatives, as the dentist will use stronger bleach. This procedure can be done very quickly, usually in a little over an hour.
Your dentist will first place a shield or a gel on your gums to protect them, before painting the bleach onto the teeth, heating it with a light for a few minutes, and then washing off with water.
Recent advances in technology have developed several alternative whitening techniques. Ask our dental teams for more information about the techniques used in your practice.
Teeth Whitening Trays and Gels
Your dentist can provide you with teeth whitening trays and gels that can be worn at home. These can be very effective, but results take longer to achieve than dental surgery whitening.
Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and give this to a dental technician, who will build a bespoke tray to the exact measurements of your mouth. Your dentist will check that the tray fits and demonstrate how to carry out the procedure at home.
The tray fits closely around the teeth, and is filled with a whitening gel. Depending on the strength of peroxide in the gel, these trays are usually worn for a couple of hours a day or overnight. Treatment could take anywhere from 3 days to a couple of weeks to achieve the desired results.
Over the counter whitening kits are available, although we do not recommend using these as they use a generic sized tray, which could allow the bleaching agent to come into contact with your gums, causing irritation. They are also less effective as the bleach content is weaker.
Teeth Whitening falls within Cosmetic Dentistry.