Have You Considered Whitening Your Teeth?

Our TV screens, social media pages and glossy magazines are filled with images of  flawless celebrities, each one brandishing a gleaming white smile!

It’s enough to make you feel guilty about your regular consumption of coffee, red wine, tea, and all the other fun things that  stain our teeth!

Dazzlingly white teeth used to be reserved for the rich and famous, but these days, treatments are accessible and affordable. 

In a society which values youth and beauty, teeth whitening procedures are becoming increasingly popular.  

Big brand producers of oral hygiene products have taken advantage of our desire for a whiter, brighter smile.  There are so many products, readily available from our local pharmacies and supermarkets, claiming to whiten your teeth. 

Let’s discuss some of the most popular treatments for teeth whitening, and compare their efficacy and safety:

Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes work by using enamel-safe abrasives to physically remove surface stains. 

Many also contain other active ingredients, like peroxide, to dissolve stains and bleach teeth. 

Some whitening toothpastes contain a chemical called blue covarine, which makes teeth appear whiter instantly by cancelling out yellow tones!

On average, people who use a whitening toothpaste twice per day, notice results within 2 to 6 weeks. Users say these results can last for up to 3 or 4 months.  

Since whitening toothpastes have varied ingredients, some brands cause higher levels of gum irritation and tooth sensitivity than others.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Dental Association do not endorse any over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, adopting the same stance as the World Dental Federation, which sates:

Peer reviewed studies indicate that peroxide-containing tooth bleaching products are safe and effective when used under the supervision of a dentist and according to the professional directions for use”.

So, if you would like to try a tooth whitening toothpaste, we recommend asking a dental professional for their advice first.

Whitening Strips

Teeth whitening strips contain active ingredients which whiten the teeth by bleaching them. Ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide are adhered to a pliable, plastic strip, which is applied to the teeth.

Alarmingly, some whitening strips contain an ingredient called chlorine dioxide.  While it has been proven that chlorine dioxide is an effective tooth whitening agent, its safety when not administered by a dental professional, is debated. 

Like all tooth bleaching agents, the wrong concentration can strip the protective enamel off of the tooth, making the tooth extremely sensitive and more prone to restaining.

Reviews of whitening strips state that their whitening effects can be observed after a few days, and that results can last for up to 6 months.

However, our opinion is the same with this product, seek the qualified opinion of a dental professional, before trying to whiten your teeth at home.  Once you damage the enamel on your teeth, you can’t get it back!  It’s simply not worth taking any chances.

Safety First

The safest and most effective option for whiter teeth is professional teeth whitening, carried out by a qualified dental professional.

Before a tooth whitening procedure, your dental professional will remove any plaque build-up from your teeth. Then, they will check your teeth for cracks or cavities – these will be repaired before the application of whitening products, so as not to further damage the tooth. 

A dental professional will also take into consideration other dental work that you have received.  For example, dental crowns or fillings on the front teeth would no longer marry up in colour to newly bleached teeth, so alternative aesthetic options would need to be explored. 

Professional teeth whitening in a dental surgery is absolutely more expensive than an over-the-counter alternative, but the whitening gels used by dental professionals are regulated and prescription-only, applied by a trained dental professional.

Professional Tooth Whitening

Hamilton Dental Centre offers two types of whitening procedures, carried out by one of our qualified and registered Dental Hygienists or Dentists:

Home teeth whitening kits

  • First, a dental impression of your teeth will be taken. From this impression, a highly accurate custom fitting whitening tray will be made. This tray fits precisely over the surface of your teeth, which helps to keep the whitening gel exactly in place and prevent it from touching the sensitive gums. 
  • The whitening gel is placed inside the tray and is then worn for a couple of hours each day or possibly overnight. 
  • The whitening gel contains bleaching agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, to lighten the colour of your teeth. 
  • Since this procedure is preceded by a dental exam and the gel is targeted using a fitted tray, the prescription of whitening gel will contain higher concentrations of bleaching agent that can legally be sold over the counter. This results in a more noticeable colour change and a brighter smile.
  • This option shows results after several days of use, but allows the user to ‘touch-up’ their whitening when results are starting to fade.

In office whitening 

  • We apply whitening gel over the surface of your teeth and use a high-powered light to speed up the whitening process. 
  • We ensure that there is an isolating agent put over the gums of the teeth to prevent the gel from coming into contact with them.
  • This option will whiten your teeth by several shades, and the results are immediate.

Overall, professional teeth bleaching procedures have the ability to produce results that can last as long as three years. 

However, the lifespan of your bleaching results will inevitably be affected by what you eat and how you take care of your teeth. 

Therefore, you will want to reduce the amount of highly pigmented foods and beverages you consume, as well as practice good oral hygiene habits to maintain your new smile.

Would You Like A Whiter, Brighter Smile?

To benefit from safe and effective teeth whitening, book an appointment with the Dental Hygienist at Hamilton Dental Centre.  We will examine your teeth, and discuss the suitability of a tooth whitening procedure for you. 

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