Firstly don’t worry, your dentist can help. Remember that teeth naturally
begin to turn yellower and darker as we get older. The things we do
in our everyday lives, like consuming certain foods and beverages
contribute to the discolouration of our teeth. Tea, coffee, and red wine
are often blamed as the main culprits, but in reality even a healthy diet
will result in some staining. The good news is that some of the staining
caused by diet is ‘external’, and can be removed by your dentist. Book
an appointment for an examination and a clean.
However, sometimes teeth discolouration requires more complicated
treatment from your dentist. If you have dental trauma from an
accident, you have naturally ‘dark’ teeth, or you have teeth that came
through already discoloured, this type of staining is ‘internal’ and
conventional polishing techniques won’t work for you. However don’t
despair, there are a number of options available so book an appointment
as your dentist can still help.
Crowns, veneers, fillings, and dentures will not whiten.
1. At home whitening ‘trays’: This involves your dentist taking an
‘impression’ of your teeth and making custom fitted trays. You will then
take the trays and bleaching gel home and apply as directed by your
dentist. Make sure you follow their instructions as not doing so can
cause damage to your teeth and gums.
Putting more bleach in than recommended does not make your teeth
whiter, it just increases the risk you will burn your gums!
2. Professional whitening by your dentist: Dentists are allowed to use
a higher concentration of bleach than you are at home, and often offer
‘in-chair’ whitening at the dental practice. This involves painting your
teeth with stronger bleach and activating it using an ultra-violet light or
a laser, often with immediate results. Follow up whitening using trays at
home is often recommended.
Sometimes your dentist will need to replace old and stained fillings that
will not change colour with the bleaching process.
What are the risks?
Every mouth is unique, so your dentist is the best person to assess
the possible risks or side-effects associated with bleaching your teeth.
Whitening, when handled by a dental professional, poses very little
risk – some people may have sensitivity to hot and cold foods for a 48
hour period after a bleaching procedure, or experience ‘zingers’ which
might feel like a mini-electric shock within a tooth. This is completely
normal but if you are concerned or in severe pain you should contact
your dentist straight away. Often there are products your dentist can
recommend to help decrease this sensitivity.
Whitening teeth without proper instruction by a dentist can be
dangerous and could result in permanent damage to your teeth and
gums. If administered incorrectly, you are at risk of chemical burns to
your gums which cause pain, blistering, and discolouration. Even if you
do not cause injury, without proper instruction you are at risk of uneven
and often disappointing results.
Avoid beauticians, hairdressers, and shopping centres who are