Whangarei Teeth Whitening
What causes teeth to become darker?
There are many reasons teeth become darker including age, lifestyle, home care, dental treatment, environmental factors and genetics. The most common reason teeth become darker is age. As we age, our enamel (the white layer on the outside of teeth) becomes clearer and thinner exposing the darker inner part of the tooth, called dentin.
Lifestyle attributes such as smoking, tea, red wine and coffee are common elements that stain teeth to a darker colour. If you partake in any of these, getting your teeth cleaned by the hygienist may be all you need to bring back the glow of your pearly whites. Highly acidic foods like citrus fruit will wear away enamel faster and accelerate the natural darkening with age.
Most stains on teeth stick to the stuff that builds up on your teeth as opposed to staining the tooth itself. If you do not regularly floss and brush, the darkening of your teeth may be just a layer of gook built up on the surface of your teeth. Again, a trip to the hygienist might solve your whitening needs as well as improve your overall dental health.
Teeth that have been treated with root canals or amalgam fillings will darken quickly. Even white fillings will darken over time so replacing those dark or aged fillings will brighten up your smile faster than any whitening product.
Some people live in areas where the water they drink contains high levels of fluoride which will will make teeth extremely hard but discoloured with brown splotchy areas (fluorosis) on the tooth surface. Unfortunately, whitening products do not work well on teeth with fluorosis. Some antibiotics when taken at an early age will discolour teeth. Tetracycline has been shown to do just that. Again, whitening products are not =very effective on teeth with tetracycline staining.
Genetics also plays a role in the colour of your teeth. Just like dark hair or blond hair, teeth are either lighter or darker, yellowish or greyish. Genetics determines the fundamental colour of your teeth. However, genetics can also give rise to a condition known as amelogenesis imperfecta which is a genetic disorder that affects the way enamel is formed on your teeth while developing. Amelogenesis imperfecta leaves teeth looking very small, brown or yellow in colour.
Is teeth whitening safe?
Teeth whitening is considered safe if you follow the recommendations by a dentist. Some tooth whitening products are actually harmful to your teeth and gums, especially if certain conditions are present. Using a dentist recommended whitening system is safe when used as prescribed.
The most common chemicals used to whiten teeth are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Although hydrogen peroxide has demonstrated faster results, it also causes the most sensitivity. Carbamide peroxide works a little slower but the results last longer with less sensitivity and less chance of harming gums.
Carbamide peroxide has been in use since World War 2. Soldiers were giving carbide peroxide as an agent to stop bacteria from causing decay and gum disease while fighting on the front lines. When those soldiers returned home, they all had really white teeth! However, the carbamide peroxide did nothing to halt gum disease.
Whitening systems that utilise a bright light to accelerate the whitening process have been shown to cause damage to the enamel, the outer layer of a tooth, and even the pulp, the inside of a tooth where the nerve lives.
Some teeth cannot be lightened with tooth whitening systems and people who use them will try more and more applications of whitening product to get results where none are possible. the over use of whitening chemicals can cause permanent damage to teeth and gums.
What types of teeth whitening methods are there?
Teeth whitening systems are everywhere. They can be found in kiosks at the mall, whitening strips from the internet, home whitening trays, whitening toothpaste and a dental laser. There are even teeth whitening systems that lighten teeth from the inside out. Each of these systems has pros and cons associated with effectiveness, safety and cost.
Home whitening strips and whitening toothpaste are available from the internet or grocery store. In order to be safe for all users, they are extremely weak and thus limited results. Although some whitening strip users find great results, they may have received the same result from having their teeth cleaned.
Home whitening trays are the best system to use based on long term results, safety and sensitivity. You can buy a teeth whitening tray kit from the internet but the trays really don’t fit well enough to be effective. Your dentist can provide you with the best fitting trays, and whitening gel for your application for around $300.
Laser or light accelerated whitening systems are not used as much any longer due to the tremendous sensitivity they cause. As it turns out, the bright light actually dries the tooth out which leaves your teeth instantly whiter, for a short while, and causes sometimes excruciating pain after treatment. Usually, a home tray system is given with a light accelerated system to give you the true whitening result.
Some teeth that have been treated with a root canal can be lightened from the inside of the tooth. No external whitening system will adequately lighten a dark tooth as a result of a root canal. Since the tooth with a root canal no longer has a nerve, a whitening agent is placed inside the the space where the nerve used to live to whiten the tooth.
Does teeth whitening work on all teeth?
Unfortunately, teeth whitening does not work on all teeth. Certain types of darker teeth as well as teeth with prior dental work will not lighten, no matter what you put on them. However, for the majority of people, teeth whitening systems work great and are reasonable priced.
Teeth that are stained by excess fluoride (fluorosis) in drinking water or from taking certain antibiotics while growing up cannot be lightened with whitening products. The same holds true for the genetic abnormality, Amelogenesis Imperfecta, where the enamel on the tooth did not form properly during development.
Teeth with crowns or veneers will not lighted with whitening products. The only way to change the colour of a crown, veneer or implant tooth is to have the dental work redone. Teeth with dark fillings, either from silver fillings or aged white fillings, will not lighten with whitening products and must be replaced to lighten those teeth. Front teeth that have had root canals rarely lighten from whitening products unless the lightening agent is placed inside the tooth.
Teeth that are stained from tea, coffee, wine, smoking etc., will lighten nicely with whitening products. Even teeth that are naturally dark will lighten well with whitening products. Having your teeth whitened is a great way to give your self a boost in appearance and self esteem!
What is involved in getting my teeth whitened?
At Kowhai Dental, we use the take home tray system to whiten our patients teeth. It is safe, effective and long lasting as well as inexpensive. To begin the whitening process, one of our dentists will check to be sure the teeth can be lightened and there is no active decay present.
Next, impressions are taken of your upper and lower teeth with a fast setting moulding compound called alginate. The impressions are then filled with a plaster like material that sets hard. Once the plaster has set, the models of your teeth are removed from the impressions and trimmed of any excess plaster.
Next, the impressions are put under a vacuum forming machine where a piece of plastic is heated until soft and lowered onto the models and vacuum formed around all nooks and crannies of the models. The plastic is then allowed to cool and trimmed around each tooth of the models, just below the gemlike. The edges are smoothed and ready for pickup.
When you return to pick up your kit, you will be given your whitening trays, some syringes with whitening gel suitable for your teeth and instructions on how to use the system. We have various types of whitening gels to suit a variety of whitening types. Some whitening gels even have a desensitising agent mixed into the gel to minimise sensitivity for those patients who need it.
The kit also contains a shade chart. We will match your current shade to the shade chart and you can compare your progress each day against the chart.
Does teeth whitening hurt?
The actual wearing of the whitening trays does not hurt a bit. However, after a few hours of wearing the trays with whitening gels, teeth do become sensitive to cold. Even breathing air in over your teeth can be felt when teeth are sensitive from whitening. This usually lasts for a day or so, until you wear the trays again. Sometimes you may want to skip a day or two of wearing the trays to let the teeth settle a bit. You can use sensitive toothpaste or rinse with warm salt water to sooth sensitive teeth. Sensitivity from whitening is always temporary. If sensitivity persists, there must be another cause like an undiagnosed hole or cavity or a cracked tooth.
How long does teeth whitening last?
The effects from whitening last from 6 months to 2 years. This time frame depends on your habits and home care. when you first get your whitening kit, there is usually enough whitening gel included for 2-3 touch up sessions.
It is a good idea to touch up your whitening after your regular dental checkups and hygiene visits to keep your teeth at their whitest! You can alway buy more tubes of whitening gel if you run out and keep using your custom trays.
How long does teeth whitening take?
The average whitening process with home whitening trays is about two weeks. You will see the beginning results after a day or two. Some people are amazed at how quickly the process occurs. You can expect three to five shades lighter after two weeks of treatment.
Will teeth whitening work on crowns or veneers?
Unfortunately, whitening products will not work on crowns or veneers. The only way to lighten crowns or veneers is to have them replaced with a lighter shade.
How much lighter will my teeth get?
Your home kit contains a shade chart that will monitor your progress. Your teeth shade is noted on the chart before any whitening treatment and then you can monitor the whitening progress by comparing your lightened teeth to the chart. Most people can expect to see three to five shades lighter after the whitening treatment.