As tooth whitening becomes cheaper and more accessible, the choice of bleaching methods and products grows. While the industry has become more popular and profitable, it’s also allowed dangerous products and scams to enter the market.
Whitening your teeth is a big decision to make and it’s important to consider all the factors before you make your decision. The bleaching affect is most commonly achieved with peroxide-based treatments at a dentist’s, or with whitening toothpastes. These whitening methods work on different layers of the tooth – Intrinsic and Extrinsic.
The Extrinsic layer refers to the upper layer of the enamel, which absorbs all of the materials entering your mouth on a daily basis. The most common causes of discolouration in this area include smoking, drinking coffee, or eating certain types of food. Extrinsic staining can usually be remedied by changing your habits and maintaining a regular schedule of brushing.
Intrinsic staining occurs below the surface level and is caused by more serious issues such as decay, cracks or weakened enamel. In this case professional whitening is the best way to help remove the discolouration and improve the appearance of your teeth. Peroxide-based whitening agents Hydrogen Peroxide and Carbamide Peroxide whitening agents can be safe, however in the following cases you should consult your dentist before proceeding:
- If you have gum disease
- If you have any cavities or worn enamel
- If you have sensitive teeth
- If you have any caps or dental implants which can’t be bleached
It’s common to have a period of sensitivity in the whitened teeth, this can be alleviated by using a sensitive toothpaste. This should in most cases disappear after around 48 hours.
Other common reported issues are irritation and sensitivity in the gums following the treatment. This does not usually last more than 24-48 hours, however if it’s a persistent issue contact your dentist immediately.
Whitening toothpastes are toothpastes containing chemicals or substances which work to remove stains and improve the colour of teeth. This method of whitening can be included into your daily brushing routine, and as it only works on the upper layer of the tooth there is no adverse side effects.
These toothpastes work by gently polishing the surface of the teeth over time, using non-bleaching agents. This helps remove stains and discolouration on the surface layer of the tooth, while helping build a barrier against further staining.
Toothpastes containing whitening agents are very safe and there have been no widely-reported negative health effects associated with regular use.
Professionally Applied Bleaching
Teeth whitening done in a professional dentist’s is typically safer than home applied remedies. Performed under strict conditions and guidelines, the dentist will ensure that the treatment is done correctly and to the highest standard. While the majority of the products used in dentist’s offices typically contain a higher percentage of peroxide, the dentist will be more capable of applying the treatment carefully and accurately. The dentist will also be very careful not to apply the whitening agent to any sensitive areas of the mouth.
Some dentists will also use a light or laser to help activate the whitening effect, there has been no evidence to suggest any negative health effects of this.
Before booking a whitening appointment, you should book an assessment prior to the treatment. This assessment will evaluate whether your teeth are suitable for whitening treatment. If you have any cavities or problem dentures then your dentist may advise against whitening treatment.