Our office has experience with most of the tooth whitening systems currently available. Whitening, or “bleaching”, materials have come a long way in the last 20 years, and more people are asking about whitening all the time. Here are some of the more common questions we receive:
How does tooth whitening work?
Most professional grade whitening products contain some variant of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals oxidise staining organic materials on and in the teeth.
Is it safe? Won’t the chemicals damage the teeth and gums?
Professionally supervised whitening is very safe. This is because we choose the proper whitening system for each client, we manufacture precise custom whitening trays, and we make sure that the teeth and gums are healthy prior to whitening treatment. The largest risk with whitening is making the teeth sensitive, primarily to cold. These effects tend to be temporary when they occur.
So there’s more than one whitening system?
Different systems work better on different types of stain. And differing concentrations of chemical and degree of buffering can be tolerated by people, depending on their sensitivity or gum recession. Also there are people who have jaw joint problems and shouldn’t wear the trays at night. Anyone who suggests that one system is perfect for all cases is not being honest.
What about the kits available from infomercials on television, or from the drug store?
Unsupervised use of these products involves some risks, but mainly the results tend to be less profound or permanent as compared to our professional materials. In general, they may reduce some of the “extrinsic” stain on the outside of the teeth, but will not change the “intrinsic” pigmentation. In summary: probably not harmful, but more effective at lightening your pocketbook than your teeth.
What about Zoom or Sapphire whitening?
We have the Sapphire plasma-arc lamp, and will use this occasionally, especially to spot-bleach specific teeth as an adjunct to treating the rest of the teeth. These systems won’t make your teeth any whiter, but can get them there faster than a home-only system.
How much lighter will my teeth get?
It depends on the type of stain and your natural pigmentation and racial background. Ask us to show you with the porcelain colour selection guide. One rule of thumb is that your teeth will not get whiter than the sclera of your eyes.
How permanent are the changes?
The newer products are proving to be quite permanent. Some clients, especially smokers, are finding they like to “touch-up” with one night of whitening tray wear about every six months.
Please ask our dentists or hygienists if you have more questions about whitening.