Suffering from stubborn stains and discolourations that come from drinking coffee, red wine, or frequent smoking that stain your enamel?
Often, a routine clean will help to lift some of this discolouration. But if you wish to brighten your smile and achieve the shade that you desire, then teeth whitening is the treatment for you.
Teeth whitening uses varying concentrations of bleach (either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) to break stains down into smaller pieces so that their colour is less concentrated and the teeth appear brighter. The best teeth whitening is achieved through professional treatment from your dentist but over-the-counter teeth whitening products are also popular. Professional whitening is more effective because the bleach concentrations used are up to 400 times higher than those available for home use.
In Singapore, over-the-counter teeth whitening kits such as strips, trays and rinses can be purchased for as little as $13 to $60, but may take up to 12 weeks to show a result. In-office or chairside bleaching from a dental professional costs between $800 and $1300. Teeth will be up to ten shades lighter after one hour of treatment.
In-office or chairside teeth bleaching takes about one hour. At home solutions provided by your dentist will require two or three appointments to make and fit a mouthguard followed by two to four weeks of treatment at home, applying the whitening product for up to one hour at a time.
Over the counter products, such as rinses, can take up to twelve weeks to deliver a result.
Whitening works well on yellow teeth but those stained brown or grey cannot be corrected by teeth whiteners.
Whitening also only works on natural teeth. It will have no effect on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. Whitening is also not suitable for tooth discolouration caused by medication or injury.
With good maintenance, such as regular brushing, scaling and polishing, the effects of teeth whitening will last for one to three years.
When re-staining occurs, whitening can be repeated. For a permanently bright smile, you may wish to consider porcelain veneers — custom-made shells which cover the front surfaces of your teeth.
Professional whitening is done at your dentist’s office. Your dentist inserts a protective rubber barrier to shield your lips, gums and tongue during the procedure. He or she applies a tooth whitening gel containing between 25% and 40% hydrogen peroxide and activates the whitening process by means of a special heating lamp or a laser. The whitening gel is reapplied at 20 minute intervals for a total of three applications. For optimal results, your dentist may also take a mould of your teeth in order to prepare a tray which fits into your mouth like a mouthguard. This is used for follow up whitening treatment at home, using customised bleaching solutions provided by your dentist.
Over the counter teeth whitening kits also apply a bleaching agent to the teeth but the concentration are much lower and the risk of gum irritation and sensitivity is higher, because the products are not specifically designed to fit your mouth. The whitening effects also take longer to become visible. Teeth whitening strips, trays and rinses are all popular home whitening products.
Teeth whitening under dental supervision is a safe procedure which does not hurt. Side effects of are more common when using home teeth whitening kits.
These can include: burns to the gums leading to tooth weakness and decay or blistering to the lips, if the peroxide treatment leaks from the tray, and stomach pain or vomiting, if the bleaching agent is accidentally swallowed.