In most cases, the natural colour of teeth is within a range of light greyish-yellow shades. It isn’t just the consumption of teeth-staining food or tobacco products that cause the yellowing of teeth; ageing is also an inevitable cause! But fret not, this can be corrected: studies have proven that professional teeth whitening can whiten teeth up to 8 shades (zoom light whitening), giving you a perfect smile that can last for an average of one year with regular maintenance.
Professional teeth whitening, also known as teeth bleaching, is done through the use of carbamide peroxide. There are two methods to carry out professional teeth whitening. At Kong Dental Surgery, our dentists may use heat to activate the whitening agents applied to the teeth. Patients may also be instructed to wear custom-made bleaching trays filled with carbamide peroxide for a period of time each day. These two methods are often used together to achieve whiter teeth.
1) Light-accelerated bleaching
Image Credit: Apple Dental
Many advertisements refer to Light-accelerated bleaching such as Zoom Light Whitening as“laser”. This is a common misconception because “laser” is an old technology. Nowadays, zoom light whitening uses LED energy to activate 25% of the hydrogen peroxide molecules to produce oxygen; it then enters the dentinal tubules and break down the coloured molecules. This treatment can be completed in approximately 1 to 2 hours, with only a single visit to the dentist.
2. Take-home bleaching kit
This procedure reduces chair-side time and requires at least 2 visits. Take-home bleaching kit differs from over-the-counter products. Models of your teeth will first be taken before a customized bleaching tray and bleaching gel is given to you. You are then required to squeeze the gel on the tray/teeth and wear them for at least an hour. Some may witness immediate effects, however best results are normally seen after 2 weeks.
At Kong Dental Surgery, progress is tracked by comparing the current teeth shade with the one recorded two weeks before the treatment commenced. This allows us to review and evaluate the improvements thus far.
3) Internal bleaching
If you have a non vital tooth or a root canal treated tooth, the tooth colour may darken. External bleaching such as zoom or home bleaching kit will not be able to change the tooth colour. One would then need to go through internal bleaching to lighten the tooth shade.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Am I suitable for whitening (teeth bleaching)?
External bleaching is not for everyone. Generally, you’re not suitable for this procedure if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Children under the age of 16 are also not recommended for bleaching as the pulp chamber or nerve of the tooth is enlarged at this age and use of whitening solutions can irritate the pulp or cause it to become sensitive.
If you are a frequent consumer of foods or drinks (e.g. tea, coffee, wine, carbonated drinks) that have a high probability of staining, a smoker, have pre-existing teeth sensitivity, many cavities, tetracycline stained teeth or root canal treated teeth, an assessment would be required to ascertain your suitability for bleaching.
Please also note that dental crowns, veneers and tooth coloured fillings do not lighten with bleaching.
2) How effective is it?
Bleaching is effective in lightening most stains caused by age, tobacco, coffee, and tea. Based on clinical studies, 96 per cent of patients enjoy a lighter tooth shade after whitening. Other types of stains, such as those caused by antibiotic (tetracycline) use or fluorosis (too much fluoride), have slightly more unpredictable results with teeth bleaching.
3) Is teeth whitening safe?
This procedure is generally safe for patients. While most people experience little or no side effects, some might experience transient sensitivity or gum irritation through chemical burns (if any).
4) How long can this last?
There are many factors that can affect the final shade of your teeth after whitening. Depending on factors such as the original shade and the severity of staining, it may take a longer period of time to get that ideal smile. Certain foods, smoking and medications can cause staining even after your teeth are whitened.
To maintain the shade of your whitened teeth, you may want to use a whitening toothpaste or a take home whitening kit. You are also encouraged to return for touch-up treatments once or twice a year.
Bleaching should only be done under a dentist’s care. Patients should not consider any other options as the lack of comprehensive professional dental diagnosis and management can cause unintended results. With little scientific knowledge, patients may put their teeth through unwanted potential risks. For example, pre-existing tooth decay and gum problem might worsen if dental bleaching is done without treating these problems first.
Boost your confidence today with a whitening session at Kong Dental Surgery!