Dental Emergencies

Teeth Whitening

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is a dental procedure whereby a chemical agent consisting primarily of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is applied to the teeth, with or without light, in order to bleach them. Teeth whitening helps people with teeth that are stained or discoloured to achieve a whiter and brighter smile.

Whitening is an ideal dental treatment for patients who want a whiter smile but whose teeth are otherwise strong and healthy.

What are the main reasons for undergoing teeth whitening?

  • Teeth whitening works well for normal wear, aging and yellowing/browning caused by smoking and/or drinking coffee, tea or red wine.
  • Teeth whitening works also works for those who have consumed too much fluoride under the age of eight, which causes the telltale white lines and patches on teeth known as fluorosis.

Who is a good candidate for teeth whitening and who isn’t?

Patients with stained or discoloured but otherwise strong and healthy teeth are good candidates for teeth whitening. Patients with tooth decay, chipped teeth or cracked teeth, or extensive restorations may need to consider more extensive treatment such as dental crowns or porcelain veneers.

What are some different whitening options?

The most common methods of treatment are take-home teeth whitening treatments at professional strength applied either in single dose applications, or with custom fit whitening trays and syringable gel. Over-the-counter options from a drug store are also available, but at a much reduced strength. Teeth whitening is an easy and quick way to transform your smile, increase your self-confidence and improve your overall appearance.

How does teeth whitening work?

Teeth whitening works by removing stains from your natural, outer tooth enamel. Whitening isn’t permanent of course, and the procedure will need to be repeated and maintained in order to keep your teeth as white and bright as possible, especially if you smoke or drink beverages that have a tendency to stain tooth enamel.

What does professional teeth whitening involve?

Teeth whitening performed by a dentist usually takes at least two visits; the first to determine the current colour of your teeth and what colour you would like them to be, as well as to make a mold of your teeth.

The mold is used to create trays to hold the hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

During your second dental appointment, the trays will be tested for fit and you’ll either wear them for the first time or bring them home to do the treatments there.

Is it normal for your teeth to be sensitive after teeth whitening?

Yes, tooth sensitivity is normal after teeth whitening, but not everyone experiences it, and the sensitivity ceases shortly after you have stopped whitening your teeth. Additional products are available to assist in more sensitive cases.

How long does it take to see results after teeth whitening?

Most patients see a whiter, brighter smile after one to two weeks of gel application. The time it takes to reach the desired shade usually depends on the severity of the staining as well as the patient’s diet and ability to stay away from staining foods and beverages during the whitening process.

How long do teeth whitening results last?

For patients that have good oral hygiene habits, that don’t smoke or consume beverages that may stain the teeth, teeth whitening results usually last several months. To maintain the teeth’s desired colour, it’s usually recommended to whiten them every six months after a routine hygiene visit.

How can you prevent discolouration after teeth whitening?

  • Stay away from cigarettes, coffee, tea, red wine, energy drinks and acidic foods like tomatoes, which can stain/discolour teeth
  • Use a straw when drinking, especially beverages that cause staining/discolouration
  • Maintain a daily oral hygiene routine that includes flossing and brushing, as well as mouthwash use