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The Hows and Wows of Teeth Whitening!


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One of the most common forms of cosmetic dentistry is the very popular and widely available teeth whitening process that can improve the quality of your smile in as little as one treatment!

If you’re tired of a flat dull looking smile and want to bring a sparkle back into your life then teeth whitening is a great way of improving the way you look and feel about yourself. It’s easy and pain free and can make a dramatic difference to the color of your teeth in a very short time.

What’s available?

There are two types of teeth whitening available on the market these include either the use of a laser which takes place in a dental surgery or the use of a professional whitening kit that your dentist can organise for you to use at home. Whatever form you choose both rely on a system of bleaching your teeth using a peroxide-based gel of different strengths.

Although you may suffer from a greater sensitivity in your lip and gums on occasion it is worth noting that the stronger the peroxide solution the whiter your teeth will become. Be sure to speak with your dentist about the pros and cons of a stronger solution so that you can make your own mind up about the strength of peroxide that is suitable for your teeth.

Laser Teeth Whitening

Within as little as one or two hours the effects of laser whitening on your teeth can be seen. This is because the light in the laser activates the peroxide gel which is why changes in the color of your teeth can be seen almost immediately. Often your dentist will also send you home with an at home whitening kit to continue the treatment so that you can achieve the color you wish in the comfort of your own home.

How the process begins

First and foremost before any treatment begins your dentist or hygiene practitioner will give your teeth a thorough clean removing any marks or stains. Then he or she will take a look at the color of your teeth make an assessment of their shade by either using a digital camera or holding up a color chart against them. An accurate assessment can be made then as to how much the color can be changed through the whitening process. This can also help with the before and after shots, patients often find it a really good indicator as to just how much improved their teeth color is after treatment.

As mentioned earlier there is a risk that lips and gums can become burnt by the peroxide solution. So don’t be surprised if your dentist places some protection around these areas such as cotton wool or a protective gel. This is to ensure that they won’t be exposed to the bleaching process which can have as high a concentration of anywhere between 15 and 30 percent. It may look ugly and be a little uncomfortable but a cheek retractor helps to keep lips and cheeks away from teeth, this is purely for your safety and the discomfort doesn’t last long. It is certainly better than burnt gums or sore lips.

The good news is if you are concerned about the high level of peroxide at home whitening kits have a much lower concentration of bleach and therefore there’s a smaller chance of you having issues with lips and gums. It’s also important to be aware that although it may be easy to purchase high-strength home whitening solutions online there are certain risks to this. These risks have been highlighted by the media after a number of horror stories were circulated. This is why it’s important that whitening is undertaken only after you have had advice and treatment from your dentist

What happens at the dentist?

More often than not your dentist will provide you with goggles to wear so that the laser he or she uses doesn’t damage your eyes and also to ensure that in the unlikely event the peroxide used splashes, it doesn’t get into the eyes If you are lucky your dentist may even offer you glasses with a dvd built into them, which allows you to watch a movie whilst the treatment is undertaken.

During treatment the peroxide gel which is put onto the surface of your teeth is activated by a laser this takes around a quarter of an hour to take effect. Be aware if you feel any strange burning sensations in your mouth, if you do be sure to let your practitioner know immediately. This process is repeated again and then once more. After this the laser treatment is complete.

Following this procedure the gel and the protection for your lips and gums is taken away and another photo will be taken of your teeth or a chart is held up to your mouth. This is where you will truly be able to see the effects of the whitening process. Many patients can see an improvement of up to ten shades lighter in their teeth. The whitening process can be continued at home with the use of an at home kit. Your dentist will discuss this option with you should you wish to whiten your teeth further.

Side Effects

There is a strong possibility that following treatment your teeth will feel a little more sensitive. Don’t worry this is perfectly normal and usually stops after a couple of days. Nevertheless it is probably best to avoid extremely cold foods such as ice cream or hot drinks such as tea and coffee, at least initially. Should this sensitivity continue it’s best to speak with your dentist to let him or her know. If you have opted for a home whitening kit then a gel or cream to reduce the sensitive sensation should be included.

Which is best for you?

The good thing about at home whitening kits is that you achieve longer term results but you have to be patient. Laser tooth whitening offers results straight away. Many people prefer to go with the dual whitening method using in surgery treatment to start with then at home treatment to finesse the whitening effect.

At home whitening kits

If you choose to go with a professional home whitening kit, your dental practitioner will take an impression of your teeth using a special type of dental putty. A model of your teeth and gums is then made out of plaster and then a clear plastic shield like those used for sports is made from the plaster model of your teeth. Once these moulds have been made especially for you they can be used in conjunction with the whitening gel given to you by your dentist until you achieve the results you wish. The trays can be worn whilst you sleep or for as little as an hour.

Whatever treatment you choose to use make sure you’re happy with your dentist or hygienist don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you’re comfortable with the pros and cons of at home or in surgery whitening and most of all look forward to white teeth and an even brighter smile.