Posted on 19.01.2015 by perfectsmile
The days when a dazzling white smile was the preserve of Hollywood stars and the very wealthy are long gone, since modern bleaching techniques, available either as in-office teeth whitening treatments or a version to be applied at home, can lift the brightness of a patients teeth by several shades or shift all but the most stubborn of stains. Although the details vary slightly, all of the differing treatments feature the application of a bleaching agent to the enamel of the teeth, and the fact that the treatment is now so flexible means that it can be fitted easily around people’s busy lives, with the deciding factors usually being how much of a lift the patient requires, and how quickly they would like the change to take place. The Advantages of In-Office teeth Whitening The main advantage of having your teeth whitened in the dentist’s surgery is that the treatment is much quicker than it is at home. This is because the careful monitoring of the treatment by experienced and knowledgeable professionals means that a much stronger version of the bleaching agent can be used. Any bleaching agent is, by definition, a dangerous substance, the more so the stronger it is. The extra safety offered by a surgery based environment means the positive effects will be visible almost instantly. There are several reasons why your teeth may not be as white as they once were, and in-office whitening is capable of dealing with many of them. Amongst the causes of staining which are best tackled in this manner are:
- Ageing – As you grow older, the colour of your teeth will become more grey or yellow, as part of the natural ageing process. In some cases this will be due to food or drink consumed over the years.
- Food and Drink – Certain strongly pigmented food and drink can have a staining effect upon the teeth, most notably the likes of tea, coffee, red wine and dark coloured fruit and vegetables.
- Smoking – Smoking tobacco of any kind will have a detrimental effect upon the brightness of your teeth.
Who Can Have In-Office Whitening? Whilst most patients can be offered in-office whitening, there are a few conditions which mean that it is not a suitable treatment. These conditions are as follows:
- Sensitive gums and teeth – If your teeth and gums are afflicted by hypersensitivity, your dentist will probably recommend using an at home bleaching kit which makes use of a bleaching agent with a much lower concentration of peroxide, the active bleaching ingredient.
- Very deep staining – Some stains are so dark and ingrained that they are impervious to the instant effects of in-office bleaching. In cases such as these, your dentist will either recommend a longer programme of supervised at-home treatment, or an alternative approach such as porcelain veneers, crowns or bonding.
- Transparency – Sometimes natural wear and tear results in the enamel of the teeth becoming more transparent and the darker substance inside showing through.
The Procedure Although some details may vary slightly, there is a fairly set process which is followed when a patient is having their teeth whitened in the surgery. In the vast majority of cases, there will be no pain or discomfort whatsoever. The basic steps are as follows:
- Cheek retractor is placed in the mouth in order to uncover and reveal the teeth which are displayed when smiling
- A hardening resin or liquid rubber is painted onto the gums to protect them
- A bleaching gel with peroxide in it is painted onto the surface of the teeth which have been uncovered, and is left in place for between 15 and 30 minutes
- This initial gel is rinsed or washed off, and then fresh gel is applied one or more times for an additional 15 to 30 minute period
- In some cases, the dentist will shine a bright light onto the teeth which is felt to speed up the activation of the bleaching process
- Between applications of gel, the dentist will check the teeth to ascertain the bleaching effect achieved and whether any further bleaching is needed
- After applying and rinsing the final batch of gel, the dentist will take out the cheek retractors and ascertain the level of bleaching which has been achieved. Technically speaking, there are 16 different shades of white and a treatment of this kind might bring about an improvement of between 2 and 8 shades. If it is felt that the teeth aren’t as white as was desired, then further treatment may be offered.
Whitening Options There are different types of whitening treatment available, offered under a range of trademark names. The way in which they generally differ is in the chemical make-up of the various agents in use.
- Bleaching gels with a concentration of 15 or 25 per cent which also contain glycerine and water to maintain hydration of the teeth. These gels are generally applied for three 20 minute periods
- A sticky gel which contains a 38% solution of peroxide as well as added potassium nitrate, which reduces sensitivity, and fluoride, which helps to prevent cavities
- A 25% peroxide bleaching gel which is applied to the teeth in conjunction with a desensitizing enhancer. After the gel has been applied, a special light is positioned in front of the teeth for a period of 30 minutes
- A 25% peroxide Gel and a Zoom Advanced Lamp. The gel is applied for three periods of 15 minutes each, and after bleaching finishes a fluoride gel is painted onto the teeth to reduce sensitivity and protect against cavities.
At Home Whitening There are different types of product which can be used to bleach teeth in the comfort of the patients own home. These are as follows:
- Rinses – Mouth wash which contains a bleaching agent is used a couple of times a day. Because of the relatively short time which the bleach spends in contact with the teeth – about a minute per rinse – the whitening effect is only gradual
- Paste – Toothpastes designed to whiten the teeth contain abrasive substances or enzymes which remove stains. Some users may suffer sensitive reactions to such products
- Strips – Adhesive strips which are permeated with bleaching agents are placed along the teeth every day for approximately 2 hours. Depending upon the strength of the bleaching agent used, this treatment usually lasts between 10 and 20 days
- Trays – A tray, like a mouth guard or retainer, is filled with a bleaching agent and worn over the teeth for a set period each day. Although they work fairly quickly, such trays run the risk of causing irritation unless they have been custom made to fit by your dentist
Although an at home treatment may seem like the more convenient option, it should be borne in mind that such processes generally take longer than their in-office counterparts and are also, due to the lack of full time professional monitoring, more likely to cause irritation of the teeth and gums. If you’d like to have the white smile you’ve always dreamed of, then book a consultation with your Perfect Smile clinic today.
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