Teeth whitening makes your smile extra sparkly which is great for those all-important selfies. But does it cause long-lasting damage to your teeth? Dentists are the only people who are able to whiten teeth legally. They will check your teeth to see if they are suitable for the procedure and will not proceed if your teeth are at risk. Beauticians are no longer able to whiten teeth as they are not medically qualified to do so.
There are three ways to whiten your teeth; over the counter kits, teeth whitening procedure at the dentist or a home kit under the dentist’s supervision. Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide are the active ingredients in all of these methods. Over the counter, kits are less effective because they contain a lower concentration of active ingredient. Treatments from the dentist contain a much higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide enabling teeth to go up to eight shades whiter.
Dentists thoroughly examine your mouth to make sure that the teeth whitening treatment will not cause damage to your teeth and mouth. If you have unhealthy teeth and gums the dentist will not whiten your teeth. Teeth whitening will not crack your teeth but may damage your gums if not supervised by a dentist.
What Causes Teeth Discolouration?
There are two main reasons why stains appear on our teeth; extrinsic which affects the outer layer or intrinsic the inner layer. Drinking coffee, wine, cola and smoking leave staining on the outside of your teeth. Damage to the dentin due to antibiotics, fluoride or a fall cause the inside of your teeth to go darker and yellowy. Ageing discolours our teeth due to a combination of internal and external staining.
Staining of your teeth is not necessarily a sign of unhealthy teeth unless it is due to internal damage. People just feel younger and healthier if they have a bright white smile. Avoiding food that stains your teeth helps to prevent discolouration.
The Teeth Whitening Procedure
Teeth whitening is a dental procedure even if its classification is Cosmetic Dentistry. Up until the 31st October, 2012 teeth whitening was subject to laws relating to cosmetic treatments. Beauticians and anyone with a teeth whitening certificate was able to whiten teeth. After October 2012 only dentists could use or prescribe teeth whitening products with up to 6% hydrogen peroxide. This means that it is illegal for anyone who isn’t a dentist to whiten people’s teeth.
The dentist will examine your teeth to make sure that your gums and teeth are healthy enough to have the procedure. If you have fillings or crowns they will not become lighter with treatment. Bleaching may cause temporary sensitivity to your teeth but will not damage them. Your dentist will not whiten your teeth if you have gum disease or weakness in your teeth.
The Zoom In-Office System
If you choose to have your teeth whitened in the dentist surgery you will experience the Zoom In-Office System. First of all, you will wear a protective shield in your mouth to protect your gums. The dentist applies gel containing hydrogen peroxide to your teeth and shines the Zoom light onto your mouth. Oxygen released by the hydrogen peroxide enters the dentin of your teeth bleaching the discolouration. The Zoom lamp increases the effectiveness by 33% which lightens the teeth by up to eight shades.
Teeth Whitening At Home
If you decide to whiten your teeth at home you will have to visit your dentist a number of times to customise your kit. Your dentist will assess the health of your teeth and will take impressions of your mouth. The impressions help to produce the gel trays which will fit your mouth perfectly to prevent the gel from touching your gums.
All you have to is inject gel containing hydrogen peroxide into the tray daily and wear it for a few hours. Many people wear them at night but they can wear the trays any time. Results are noticeable between seven and fourteen days.
The teeth whitening procedure will not crack your teeth because your dentist will not continue with treatment if your teeth are unhealthy.