Frequently Asked Questions about Tooth Whitening

Frequently Asked Questions about Tooth Whitening, everything you need to know about getting your teeth whitened at the dentist. Contact our team for more information.

Who may benefit from tooth whitening?

It depends on your individual circumstances, ideal patients have healthy, unrestored teeth and would like to have a whiter, brighter smile.

The best candidates for teeth whitening are:

  • Mature enough to fully understand the procedure
  • Experiencing stained and discoloured teeth
  • Knowledgeable about the procedure
  • Realistic in their expectations.

If you want to know more make an appointment with your dentist, to determine, whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you.

What is tooth whitening?

It is a bleaching process that lightens discolorations of enamel and dentine. The system uses a mild gel solution in a custom-fitted tray. As the active ingredients, carbamide and hydrogen peroxide, are broken down, oxygen entered the enamel and dentine and bleach the coloured substances present. The structure of the tooth is not changed.

How long does it last?

You simply ‘touch-up’ by reapplying the whitening gel every so often. How often varies with the individual, but usually only a few days a year are necessary. Without periodic touch ups, the teeth will be re-stained over time but people can go for years without retreatment. Make sure to keep your trays as additional gel can be purchased from us.

Does the whitening gel taste bad?

No, it has a reasonably pleasant flavour, similar to toothpaste.

How Much Whiter Will the Teeth Be?

This depends on your unique circumstances. Whiteners may not correct all kinds of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably whiten well, brownish-coloured teeth may not whiten as well, and greyish-hued teeth may not whiten well at all. In most cases, sparkling white teeth that are several shades brighter than the original shade can be achieved with in-practice treatments.

Will bleaching damage the enamel, like bleach can damage clothing?

No, domestic bleaches are completely different chemical substance (sodium hypochlorite) and releases chlorine. Dental ‘bleach’ is a peroxide and releases oxygen. Peroxides are well established to be safe on enamel and dentine. Never use domestic bleach or any other produce not recommended by your dentist in your whitening tray.

What Can I Expect After Teeth Whitening?

After teeth whitening, it is advised that you avoid substances that stain, such as tobacco and red wine, for about a week. This is because the pores in your teeth are open and your teeth are more receptive to staining factors after your teeth-whitening treatment. Your teeth may also feel slightly sensitive to very hot or cold foods and beverages.

If you can’t go without your morning coffee or afternoon wine, try drinking through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth as much as possible. It is also important to keep the mouth clean by brushing and flossing regularly.

Can I Continue Smoking After Teeth Whitening?

Smoking will rapidly reverse the results of your teeth-whitening treatment. Tobacco causes deep staining within the tooth enamel and should be avoided completely for at least a week after your treatment. Smokers will require more regular re-treatments than non-smokers to maintain their colour.

Can whitening cause pain in my teeth?

Whitening can cause temporary sensitivity of teeth (dull ache, sharp pain or hot/cold sensitivity)/ this usually lasts several hours after whitening, but sometimes longer, however, it never leaves any residual problem. In some patients, gum irritation can be caused by the whitening gel. This can be seen as a white area where the gel has contacted the gum, the gum will return to normal within a few hours after removal of the whitening tray.

If you experience sensitivity, it is quite alright to whiten one day on, one day off. You can also use sensitive toothpaste or ‘Tooth Moose’ (available at Limestone Dental) to desensitize your teeth. Avoid ‘acidic’ food, soft drinks, citrus fruits and beverages; these foods have the effect of opening up the tiny tubules. If you have any concerns or are experiencing any burning on the gum, you should reduce your whitening duration and contact your dentist.

Are there any long term effects?

These take home whitening techniques have been in use for over 25 years without problems. It appears that there are no adverse effects to whitening your teeth.

How long should I whiten for?

As long as it takes to get the results you desire. This is usually 3-6 weeks; your dentist will assess the time required. Sometimes longer is required for stubborn stains, you simply stop when you are happy with the result.

Do all teeth whiten evenly?

The biting edges of the teeth whiten faster than the areas adjacent to the gum. In some patient, whitening can result in a frosty, chalky appearance of the teeth, but this usually reverts to a more natural translucent appearance after several weeks. It may be a good idea to whiten your teeth and leave them to stabilise for about 2 weeks before any crowns or white fillings are commenced.

When I use the whitening gel, I get white patches on my teeth. Will it stay like this?

Generally, no, as the gel is an ‘anhydrous’ formula which mean it has no water in it. There are areas in your enamel which turn a frosty white colour when they are dried – but these will return to normal as soon as water soaks back into the enamel. This usually takes from a few hours to a few days.

If I have fillings, porcelain crowns or veneers in my teeth, will these change colour with the tooth?

No, but there is some ‘chameleon-like’ effect when the surrounding tooth whitens and the filing often appears to whiten somewhat as well. Stained fillings can be replaced after bleaching to improve the overall appearance.

What causes the teeth to discolour?

Teeth discolour and yellow due to general ageing. Other everyday factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Coffee, Tea, Red wine and Soft drink
  • Red berries, spices, curries and chocolate
  • Not taking good care of your teeth
  • Certain antibiotics.

How white should I make my teeth?

As white as you want, but be aware that is it possible to make your teeth inappropriately white for your age. You want a reasonably natural appearance, so try to resist the temptation to become obsessed with whiteness-there is a balance and your dentist can help you asses this.

On the front of my whitening tray there is a slight space underneath. What is it?

This is a small reservoir deliberately created on the front surface of the teeth to provide a space for the whitening gel.

Do the bleaching systems that are available over the counter from shops work as efficiently and comfortably?

We have found them completely ineffective, have an unpleasant taste and sometimes ever damaged the teeth. None of these over the counter type products have custom made trays which stop just short of the gum edge. Consequently, the gel contacts the gum to much greater extent and the treatment time has to be kept to a minimum. Professionally made trays not only work much faster but are a lot more comfortable and safer then over the counter alternatives.

Is tooth whitening for everyone?

Tooth whitening is generally contraindicated in patients who have pre-existing tooth sensitivity, active dental decay or are pregnant.  Patients with extensive front fillings or ceramic crowns may not be suited to tooth whitening and should discuss the procedure further with their dentist.

How should I store my whitening kit?

It is best to keep your bulk supply of whitening gel in the refrigerator in a sealed bag/container. The open tube should be kept at room temperature in a dry place. Dried bleaching trays should be stored in the container provided in a cool area away from direct sunlight/heat to avoid distortion.

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