Tooth whitening options
The Best Whitening Solutions
Teeth whitening is the process of removing stains from teeth and improving their colour through a bleaching process to make them look “whiter”.
For heavily stained teeth, a significant improvement in their appearance can be achieved following a procedure as simple as a scale and polish from your dental hygienist.
Most cosmetic dental practices offer a combination of in-surgery immediate laser teeth whitening and take-home whitening kits with custom-made trays. Both procedures are based on a bleaching process using a peroxide-based compound which varies in strength (3-50% peroxide). The higher the % of peroxide in the compound, the more powerful the bleaching compound is. This means it is more effective at whitening the teeth but, at the same time, has a greater potential to cause damage to the surrounding gum tissue.
Your dentist usually uses a shield to protect the gums during this procedure. This is why home whitening kits usually have a low concentration of peroxide. The take-home whitening kits provide more permanent results over a longer scale, whereas laser whitening offers immediate results. Combining the two provides the perfect solution for immediate and long-term whitening.
Rising cosmetic dentist star and Young Dentist of The Year Dr Derby, who just opened up a practice in High Wycombe, comments: “It’s important for tooth whitening agents to be administered by professionals at a dental practice like ours, as tooth sensitivity can be a real and dangerous problem for some patients.”
Before any whitening procedure, the dentist or a hygienist will thoroughly clean the teeth, removing any surface stains and tartar. This procedure is commonly referred to as a scale and polish.
The next step will be for the dentist to record the shade/colour of the teeth before the procedure to show the patient the difference achieved after the whitening. This is either recorded using a tooth-coloured shade guide/chart or by taking a digital photograph of your teeth. The area is then prepared for the procedure.
The bleaching compound usually contains a high concentration of peroxide (15-50%), and so the dentist will usually place some form of protection around the gums so that only the teeth are exposed to the compound. This may involve covering the gums with rolls of cotton or a protective gel material that hardens once applied to the gums.
A cheek retractor keeps the lips and cheeks away from the teeth. Eye protection is also provided to prevent any damage to the eyes from the laser used or any accidental splashes of the peroxide. Many cosmetic practices now offer DVD glasses so patients can watch a movie during their treatment!