There are two methods to whitening ones teeth. The first type of teeth whitening procedure relies on abrasive compounds such as pumice or charcoal to finely remove surface stains to reveal the pre-existing tooth colour. The second teeth whitening treatment involves using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to actively break down dark stains intrinsically within the tooth enamel.
Cosmetic teeth whitening using peroxides can usually be broken down into three categories.
- 1. In Chair Whitening
This involves using a strong hydrogen peroxide gel on the teeth over the course of 30 -45 minutes by the dentist. Sometimes a light or “laser” may be used to help activate the whitening gel, however there is very little evidence that this in fact does anything. This type of whitening can give a very immediate startling result however we have found that it regresses very quickly and is not the best long term treatment option.
- 2. Take Home Kits
Take home kits involve using a weaker gel based peroxide which is applied by the patient at home for around one hour per day for 2 weeks. These kits also have the advantage in that a top up treatment can be done every 3months by the patient at no extra cost. The weaker doses used for longer periods definitely give a much more favourable and long lasting result, especially when used in conjunction with an initial “in chair whitening”. This is definitely the most cost effective treatment that gives the most positive results.
- 3. Laser Whitening
Laser whitening is only done in a handful of specialised clinics within NSW. This is for extremely serious cases of tooth discolouration. A UV protective mask must be worn by the dentist and patient and should only be performed by an extremely experienced practitioner.
Teeth Whitening side effects
The main side effect of teeth whitening is that your teeth will become more white. Besides this it is not uncommon to experience sensitivity. If your teeth become sensitive, take the bleaching trays out and rub desensitising toothpaste on and leave it there. Contrary to urban myths whitening does not damage your tooth enamel.