Few people are fortunate enough to possess a naturally white smile, and as the years creep by, a tooth’s natural color can darken as stains from food and drink become more ingrained. There are many products available online which claim to whiten teeth, but their results can be at best mixed. Fortunately, if you want to brighten the your smile your dentist can offer a professional teeth whitening procedure that has proven results and is safer than some of the ‘treatments’ available to buy without expert consultation.
There are two main kinds of whitening techniques that dentists offer. The most common uses a form of bleaching agent that harmlessly penetrates the surface enamel of the teeth, and works to break up the staining molecules underneath. This treatment requires two or three visits to the dentist and takes about a month from start to finish.
During the first surgery visit, your dental team will take the measurements needed to fashion a rubber shield that will protect your gums from the whitening agent. Once this protective shield has been made, during the next visit the first application of the whitener will be made using a special tray that fits like a mouth guard. This needs to be worn for thirty minutes to an hour at a time, and after the initial application by the dentist, treatment needs to be continued at home on a daily basis. Depending on the extent of staining and the desired results, home treatment should last between two and four weeks.
The other main method of professional tooth whitening is known as ‘power whitening’ or ‘laser whitening’. This involves spreading an active whitening ingredient on to the teeth, and then stimulating a chemical reaction using a laser. This results in much faster treatment, and the whole procedure usually takes only an hour. Your dentist can advise on whether power whitening is appropriate for your tooth condition.
Whichever method of whitening you choose, the effects are likely to last for around three years. However, if the staining was originally caused by consumption of discoloring drinks such as coffee or red wine, or by smoking, then the results will fade a lot faster unless you cut down on your intake.
Professional tooth whitening is generally safe and relatively free of side effects, although some patients complain of increased tooth sensitivity both during and after treatment. This should only last a few days, so consult with your dentist if the side effects continue once the treatment is over.
If you’re looking to gain a brighter, whiter smile then the promises of cheap and easy treatments available online may seem tempting, but you’ll be taking a chance on a product of unknown strength and maybe dubious reliability. A professional whitening procedure carried out by your dentist may cost a little more, but it will be both effective and safe.