14 Sep Sleep your way to a brighter smile
Tooth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures worldwide. GPA Dental explains the process.
1. The Causes of Discoloration
There are many reasons why teeth discolour. Coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco can cause external stains, which usually respond well to whitening procedures. Internal stains – from the effects of taking tetracycline antibiotics during tooth development stages, for instance – can be
more difficult, but not impossible to remove.
2. How Whitening Works
Teeth consist of two layers: The outer enamel, a crystal-like structure, gives your teeth luminosity. The inner, dentine layer, which is usually yellow or brown, is the “living” part that houses the nerves. Tooth whitening works most effectively by penetrating the enamel surface and breaking down stains from within. This improves the way the tooth reflects light, making it appear brighter. The best way to apply whitening gel to teeth is with custom-made trays. You wear these trays for a few hours a day or overnight for a period of two to three weeks. Usually, you’ll see a gradual change in the colour over the first week, with most obvious results in the second week.
3. Don’t Worry About Fillings
Whitening gel is not effective on dental filling materials, so teeth with fillings, crowns and veneers will not show any change in colour. If you’d like to change the shade of your fi llings, you’ll need to replace them entirely. However, if you’re stilll concerned, speak to your dentist so he or she can examine your teeth and explain whether they are suitable for whitening procedures.
4. How Long it Lasts
Once your teeth are whitened, the effect lasts in direct relation to how often you partake of “staining agents” like coffee, red wine and tobacco. Refrain from consuming these items for at least a week after your whitening procedure, as your teeth will be dehydrated from the bleaching process and sensitive to stains. Have a weekly maintenance programme, or opt for once- or twice- monthly appointments, depending on your lifestyle. You can also try over-the-counter whitening strips or paint on products, though these are less concentrated than the dentist dispensed gel so the results may be unpredictable. Ask your dentist for more information on whether teeth whitening is right for you.