Tooth Whitening

Many people are dissatisfied with the colour of their teeth. There are many reasons teeth may be discoloured. Some of these are intrinsic (within the actual tooth) and others are extrinsic (on the surface of the tooth).

Intrinsic staining of a tooth could be related to issues such as illnesses, medications and excess fluoride consumption while the teeth are developing as an infant or child. It is not always possible to completely mask these types of staining with tooth whitening gels. In some instances the discolouration can be improved. It may be necessary to undertake further procedures such as micro abrasion to minimise the appearance of these stains.

Extrinsic staining appears on teeth due to the foods and drinks we ingest. Some of the chief causes of staining are smoking, coffee, tea, red wine and other highly pigmented foods, such as curries. The removal of extrinsic stains is usually highly successful by whitening gels. The best results usually occur when the teeth are professionally cleaned prior to the initial application of the whitening gels.

Some people just have teeth that look more yellow. This generally occurs because of the ratio of enamel to dentine in the teeth. It may also be related to the level of translucency of the enamel of the teeth. The outer layer of the tooth (enamel) is normally translucent, allowing the colour of the underlying dentine to shine through the tooth. If a tooth has particularly translucent enamel and is supported by particularly thick and yellow dentine, then a tooth will appear quite yellow.  Whitening gels do have an affect on improving the colour of teeth in these situations.

At Bentleigh Dental on McKinnon we offer both in chair and take home whitening. Take home whitening involves the construction of custom made whitening trays. These trays fit only your mouth and adapt closely to the contours of your teeth, allowing the whitening gel to precisely adhere to the surfaces of your teeth. These trays can be worn at a time that is convenient for you, whether this is for approximately 2 hours during the day or overnight, the choice is yours. A normal course of whitening involves the daily use of the whitening gel for a period of 2-5 weeks.

For some people whitening can result in a transient sensitivity to temperature. If this occurs we recommend that the whitening occurs only every second or third day, usually in conjunction with a sensitive toothpaste or GC Tooth Mousse Plus.

In chair whitening involves the placement of a concentrated whitening gel on your teeth, under the direct supervision of one of our clinicians. This will require an appointment of 60-90 minutes and may require multiple sessions. Normally we recommend that the in chair whitening be followed up by a course of take home whitening.

It is not possible to predict the exact degree of whitening that will be able to be achieved by the whitening process. However, what we do normally find is that most people’s teeth lighten by 2 to 3 shades on the standard Vita tooth shade chart. This translates into a very noticeable improvement in the colour of your teeth. It is important to note that fillings do not change colour with whitening.

The effects of tooth whitening are long lasting, but not permanent. You can, however, continue to use your custom made whitening trays from time to time to top up the whitening. This assumes that your dentition does not alter significantly. You are also able to purchase additional whitening syringes as you require them.

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