Just as it is easy to be dazzled by a bright smile, it is also natural to be repelled by a dull or dirty one. It might sound obvious, but strangely enough one of the most common causes of an unattractive smile is stained teeth.
Stains can result from things like food, drinks such as coffee, tea or red wine, smoking, or by poor oral hygiene. The good news is that they can be dealt with in a simple and cost effective manner.
Teeth whitening is a very successful and easy way to eliminate most external and some internal stains from your teeth without causing any damage. You can do this either at HBDS, or by using a custom-made system at home.
In-office whitening conducted by us is probably much quicker and more effective, but the home alternative is attractive due to its lower cost.
Why do we need tooth whitening?
Most of us start out with sparkling white teeth, thanks to the tooth’s porcelain-like enamel surface. Over the years, our enamel is worn down and becomes more transparent. This permits the yellow colour of dentin – the tooth’s core material – to show through and gives the teeth a darker appearance.
It has also been discovered that millions of micro-cracks occur in the enamel when we chew. It is these cracks, as well as the spaces between the enamel’s crystalline structures, that gradually fill up with stains and debris. The result is that the teeth develop a darker, lacklustre appearance.
Teeth whitening removes the stains and debris, leaving the enamel cracks open and exposed. Some of the cracks are quickly re-mineralised by saliva, and others are refilled with organic debris.
What are your options?
There are currently two professionally controlled procedures available to suit both your lifestyle and your pocket.
With this option, you can achieve significant colour change in a matter of hours.
The procedure involves the carefully controlled use of a relatively high-concentration peroxide gel. We apply this on the teeth after protecting the gums with a paint-on barrier. Generally, the peroxide remains on the teeth for intervals of 15 to 20 minutes, adding up to an hour at most. If you have particularly stubborn stains, you may be advised to return for one or more additional bleaching sessions, or to continue treatment with a take-home whitening kit.
At HBDS, we offer top-of-the-range in-office whitening products. Please contact us or call 021 790 2910 to find out about the treatment options and cost.
Take-home whitening kits
Professionally dispensed take-home whitening kits produce excellent long-term results. The kits incorporate an easy-to-use, lower-concentration peroxide gel that remains on your teeth for an hour or longer, and sometimes overnight.
The lower the peroxide percentage, the longer it can safely stay on your teeth. The gel is applied to the teeth using custom-made bleaching trays that look like mouth guards. This is repeated daily for a period of two or more weeks, or until you have achieved the whiteness you desire.
The OPALESENCE home whitening system is the market leader in South Africa. Please contact us or call 021 790 2910 to find out about the costs of the kit and follow-up visits.
It is normal to experience a slight degree of relapse within the first 24-48 hours after completing your whitening procedure. You’ll also notice a gradual deterioration through the normal staining from daily eating and drinking. The degree will depend on what you eat and drink, but it can generally be managed by using a maintenance programme that might include repeating the use of your trays of whitening gels or whitening toothpaste.
There are some risks and limitations associated with bleaching procedures, however, they are uncommon and usually minor.
Some things to be aware of
- Tooth sensitivity. Some people experience sensitivity during the whitening procedure. It is typically mild and does not last. If the discomfort does persist, a mild painkiller is usually all you need.
- Gum irritation. Temporary inflammation of the gums and other soft tissue can occur during your whitening. This is usually the result of the whitening gel coming in contact with your gums. The irritation is generally short lived and disappears as soon as the gel is removed. A mouth rinse can ease the irritation.
- Existing fillings and other restorations may not match. You should be aware that tooth-coloured fillings, crowns or veneers do not whiten during the procedure. This means that you might want to replace some dental restorations if they no longer match your new, whiter smile.