What are the benefits?
Teeth whitening improves the appearance of your teeth without removing any of the natural tooth surface. Whitening is a better option than a crown or veneer if you want to lighten the colour of healthy teeth, as placing of crowns and veneers involves changing the shape of the tooth.
What is it?
Like hair and skin teeth vary in colour. Some are yellower or darker than others, even when they are quite healthy. Teeth tend to get darker as people get older.
Teeth sometimes become darker if their rooths have been damaged or diseased and the 'nerve' had 'died'.
Tooth colour can be very effectively lightedned with Hydrogen Peroxide, used on either the outside or the inside of the tooth.
Tooth whitening is completely safe as long as the Hydrogen Peroxide does not touch your gums and burn them.
What will the dentist do?
Where the 'nerve' of a tooth has 'died' (through damage or disease) and the tooth's root has been filled, Hydrogen Peroxide is put inside the tooth, under a temporary dressing. The whitening agent remains in the tooth for about a week before being cleaned out so that a white filling can be placed.
There a two ways of whitening the outside of teeth. One takes place at home and the other in the dentist's surgery.
Whitening in the surgery works like this:
* The dentist will use a stronger whitening jelly than is used for home whitening. Dentists use this method to whiten all the teeth at
the same time in either your upper or lower jaw. The strong whitening jelly will touch the teeth for less time than with home
* The dentist will protect your gums. He will paint the whitening gel onto the teeth and shine a special light on them.
* The whitening gel is then washed off with water.
The dentist will make a note of your tooth colour using model teeth in different shades before treating you. Look at the colour match yourself before the treatment, so you can compare it with the colour after whitening. Your teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold food and drink for a few days after whitening.
Home whitening works like this:
* The dentist will give you weak whitening gel to use at home in a tray which fits closely round your teeth. The tray makes sure that
the gel does not burn your gums. You will need to put the tray in your mouth for a few hours on several occasions, as instructed
by the dentist (probably over a period of weeks).
* The denist will need to use a putty-like material to make moulds of your mouth (called impressions), so a dental technician can
make the tray to fit. At your next appointment, the dentist will check that the tray fits and show you how to put the whitening gel
in the tray at home.