At Renton Dental we offer you the choice of two effective methods for teeth whitening:
- in the comfort of your own home, and
- in-surgery whitening in our Paddington dental practice.
We only use and recommend teeth whitening treatments which have been clinically proven to be safe and effective, and won’t weaken or damage your teeth enamel.
Our team of experienced dentists can assess your teeth’s suitability for whitening and discuss with you the process and what could be achieved.
Why do teeth change colour?
Over our lives our tooth colour changes. This happens because our teeth age, become stained from the food and drink we consume. Your teeth can also be affected by trauma, childhood medication, or genetic inheritance.
Discolouration of your teeth occurs either intrinsically (inside) or extrinsically (outside).
Staining from the inside
Intrinsic stains occur in the microcracks in tooth enamel and deep in the softer inner layer of your tooth (dentine). It is the inner part of the tooth (dentine) that changes colour, not the hard outer enamel.
As teeth repair themselves over time, the new dentine is darker and the enamel becomes thinner. This thinning of enamel happens naturally as your teeth wear. Other influences include food acid, gastric reflux, or tooth grinding (bruxism), which cause teeth to discolour more quickly. The colour of the dentine reflects through the enamel like a prism making the outer tooth look darker or stained.
Staining from the outside
Extrinsic stains appear on the surface of your teeth. The outer part of your tooth (enamel) can become stained when you drink tea, coffee, wine, intensely coloured foods such as some curries or sauces, or if you smoke tobacco. This staining does not affect the inner colour of the teeth.
How does tooth whitening work?
Whitening products change your natural tooth colour by using an active ingredient such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in varying concentrations. This product is applied directly to your teeth, either in the surgery by the dentist or in trays that you use at home.
As the whitening product, usually in the form of a gel is applied, it makes the tooth porous. The whitening product is absorbed into the fine tubules that are found in the inner part of the tooth (dentine). When the dentine is whitened, the colour that’s reflected through the outer enamel of your teeth is lighter, making them look whiter and brighter—reflecting out through the enamel like a prism.
Contrary to what you might have thought, whitening lightens the inner tissue (dentine) of the tooth, not the hard, outer enamel.
Tooth whitening works best on teeth that have been cleaned so there is no plaque or calculus to block the work of the whitening gel.
Do I need to get my teeth cleaned before whitening?
It is important to consult a dentist about tooth whitening because not all teeth are suitable to treat. And yes, clean teeth that are free of plaque (biofilm) and calculus (hard build up that only a dentist can remove) whiten the best and have the most noticeable results.
Teeth that may not respond well to whitening include teeth which
- are damaged,
- have never formed properly
- have been affected by childhood illnesses
- have been affected by prescribed medication
- are heavily filled, especially with metal fillings (amalgam) may have been intrinsically stained and may not respond to whitening
- are on the grey colour spectrum. These don’t whiten as well as teeth on the yellow colour spectrum.
There are other alternatives to changing the colour of your teeth that may not involve using whitening products. Your dentist can discuss alternatives with you.
Your dentist will also assess your tooth condition before the procedure is started.
Just as you wouldn’t start a renovation on your home before checking the foundations are stable and secure, there is a basic assessment needed for your teeth prior to whitening.
Gum issues (gingivitis and periodontal disease) can cause teeth to be unsuitable for whitening.
A dentist can check your teeth and gums, providing a scale and clean if necessary. A dentist can repair broken fillings. A dentist will discuss your oral health condition with you, including your teeth’s suitability for whitening so you get the best result.
Teeth whitening in surgery – what happens?
Whitening procedures change your natural tooth colour, usually several shades lighter and brighter.
Because in-surgery whitening is done as one procedure, the change in your tooth colour is immediately visible.
During in-surgery whitening, a protective material is placed around the edge of your gums to shield them during the whitening procedure.
Whitening products which contain an active ingredient such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide are carefully applied to your teeth. A blue light helps to activate the whitening gel.
The whitening product is then washed off your teeth and progress is then assessed.
The whitening material may be applied several times.
The whole process usually takes about an hour.
At Renton Dental, we also include a set of take home whitening trays for you as part of your in-surgery whitening experience. This means that you can freshen up your whitening at any time.
Take home whitening trays – what happens?
The alternative to in-surgery whitening is to use custom-made take home trays.
The advantage of take home trays is that you can freshen up your whitening at any time and in the comfort of your own home. You can even target particular teeth for extra whitening.
The dentist will take impressions of your mouth and teeth. Thin, clear acrylic trays that fit over your teeth, uppers and lowers, will be made.
Before you wear your whitening trays, clean your teeth to make sure that your teeth are free of plaque (biofilm). Whitening products work much more effectively on clean teeth.
You put a very small amount of whitening product in the trays and wear them for 30 to 45 minutes. While you wear the trays, you can watch television, read emails, shop online or do almost anything except eat or drink.
After removing your trays, rinse your mouth with water. You can give your teeth another brush if you would like to but brush them gently.
Just letting you know…
After you’ve whitened your teeth, either in-surgery or using take home trays, you need to be aware that:
Your teeth may become sensitive. During in-surgery whitening, your dentist can use a de-sensitising agent to reduce the likelihood of sensitivity. Your dentist will give you a product that you can apply to your teeth at home to reduce sensitivity. If you are using take home trays, you may need to wear your trays less frequently until the sensitivity settles.
Your teeth will be slightly porous for a short while after whitening so strongly coloured food or drink will be absorbed as well as whitening gel. For example, if you use the whitening gel, then drink red wine, your teeth may turn pink temporarily! Fortunately, this is only temporary but can embarrassing if you are out in public.
Dogs love to chew your whitening trays. It’s safer to always store your trays in their case, away from pets.
Trays are vulnerable to heat and will distort if left in the sun or near heaters. Keep them in their case in a cool place, like a bathroom or bedroom drawer.
Removing stains on teeth to make them fresher
Food and drink can stain your teeth and make them look dull and discoloured.
Tea, coffee, wine, intensely coloured foods like some curries, or smoking tobacco can affect the colour and brightness of your teeth.
These are extrinsic (outside) stains and can be cleaned using various methods to freshen your teeth.
Physical and/or chemical action removes these stains by helping to remove surface discolouration.
All toothpastes rely on mild abrasion to remove surface stains between dental visits. Whitening toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal.
Professional cleaning by a dentist also uses mild abrasion and polishing to remove most external staining caused by food and tobacco. Dentists may also use ultrasonic cleaning to remove plaque, calculus and stains.
Removal of stains (extrinsic) will clean and freshen your teeth but will not change the colour of your teeth. Only tooth whitening (intrinsic) will lighten and whiten your teeth.
If you have more questions or would like a personalised assessment, please contact our team at Renton Dental. We would be very pleased to answer your questions or help you achieve a brighter, whiter smile.