Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural color of your teeth with removing any of the tooth surfaces. It cannot make a complete color change, but it may lighten the existing shade as we get older our teeth to get darker. This is partly due to our getting older, but it is also caused by the foods we eat and drink, and by other habits such as smoking. Tea, coffee, blackcurrant juice, red wine and other foods that have strong colors can have an effect on the overall color of our teeth. Teeth may also darken as a result of some antibiotics. Some people naturally have a more grey shade of teeth. Other people have white spots on their teeth. This can be caused by early tooth decay, or illness when the tooth was forming. There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened. Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin color vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth.
‘Calculus’ or tartar can also affect the color of your teeth. Some people may have staining under the enamel surface or tiny cracks can appear in the teeth which take up stains. Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening. We will assess you first to see whether tooth whitening is suitable for you and tell you about the options you have for tooth whitening and which will be the most suitable for you. The most common type of whitening is called ‘dentist-supervised home whitening’. You will have trays made specially to fit into your mouth like gum-shields. The whitening gel is then put in the trays and you will be given a routine to follow at home.
Another option is called ‘chair-side whitening’. You will be told if you are suitable for the treatment, and we will supervise it. First, a rubber shield or a gel is applied to your gums to protect them, then apply the whitening product to your teeth. The ‘active ingredient’ in the whitening product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel and dentine of the teeth and the tooth color is made lighter. Many people find that their teeth and gums feel cleaner after they have been whitened. The whitening treatment was first used as a treatment to help heal gums, so this is an added benefit. You can help to keep your teeth white by cutting down on the amount of food and drink you have that can stain your teeth. Don’t forget, stopping smoking can also help prevent discoloration and staining.
We recommend the following tips to care for your teeth:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
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