Teeth whitening is designed to lighten the colour of your teeth. Significant lightening can be achieved in the vast majority of cases, but the results cannot be guaranteed. When done properly, the whitening will not harm your teeth or gums. However, like any other treatment, it has some inherent risks and limitations. These are seldom serious enough to discourage you from having your teeth whitened, but should be considered when deciding to have the treatment.
Just about anyone is a candidate for teeth whitening. However, the following cases should be considered:
• People with dark yellow or yellow-brown teeth tend to whiten better than people with grey or bluish-grey teeth.
• Multi-coloured teeth, especially if due to tetracycline, do not whiten well.
• People with significant periodontal disease are not good candidates.
• If you are pregnant, obtain permission for your doctor before trying the whitening procedure.
• People with minimal discolouration, (teeth that are already very white) may not see a substantial degree of whitening.
• Teeth with many fillings, cavities, chips, etc., are usually best treated by bonding, porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns. Any current restoration you have, such as, fillings, porcelain crowns, onlays and inlays cannot be whitened.
In-surgery whitening – This process can be done in one visit. The appointment may take up to two hours, depending on how your teeth respond to the whitening gel. The advantages of In-Surgery whitening include us doing all the work for you and in less total time than you would then spend at home whitening your teeth. We do provide you with a home whitening kit as part of this package so that you can continue to whiten at home or top up if necessary. The disadvantages include the normal inconveniences of any dental treatment, such as, having to keep your mouth open for the duration of the appointment and the increased cost, compared to the home whitening.
Home whitening kit – This process, which can be done anywhere and anytime, involves wearing a custom made whitening tray (looks like a thin, transparent mouth guard) filled with a mild whitening agent for optimal results. You should wear the gel – filled tray from 45 minutes per day to overnight, depending on your response and the strength of the gel. You should continue treatment for about one to two weeks, depending on the degree of whitening desired. The advantages of home whitening include performing the treatment when it is convenient for you with lower costs. The disadvantage to home whitening is that the success of the treatment is dependent on your commitment to wearing the whitening tray consistently for the prescribed period.
Wearing your whitening tray – If you choose home whitening, it will only be effective if you conscientiously wear the tray for the prescribed time for the one to two weeks.
Complications – If you experience any severe discomfort or other problems, discontinue the whitening and contact us immediately. Most sensitivity is usually transient and disappears after one to several days.
Tooth sensitivity – During the first 24 hours following whitening, some patients experience transient sensitivity. This sensitivity is usually mild if your teeth are not normally sensitive. With in-surgery whitening, this sensitivity will usually subside in 1-2 days. With home whitening, it may be necessary for you to reduce the number of minutes or hours you are wearing the whitening trays or stop using it for several days to resolve the sensitivity.
However, if your teeth are normally sensitive, whitening may make your teeth more sensitive for an extended period of time. Under these circumstances, you may choose to delay the whitening process until we are able to complete desensitisation procedures.
If your teeth are sensitive after whitening a mild analgesic such as Tylenol or Advil will usually be effective in making you comfortable until your tooth sensitivity returns to normal.
Gum Irritation – This is the result of a small amount of solution leaking under the gum protection. A burning sensation on your gums may also occur. This should resolve by itself between a few hours to a few days. You may also experience burning and/or swelling of the lips. With home whitening, irritation can result from over filling your trays, causing leakage onto the gum tissue. Irritation can also occur if you are using the tray for too many hours when you first start whitening. It may be necessary for you to reduce the amount of gel placed and reduce the amount of time you are wearing the trays. It may be worth not wearing the trays for a few days and then continuing your treatment once the irritation settles.
Effect on fillings – Tooth coloured fillings will not whiten. If the filling matches your current colour, whitening will result in mis-matched shades with your natural teeth. You may need to have your fillings replaced to match your newly whitened teeth.
Level of lightening –There is no totally reliable way to predict how light your teeth will whiten. With In-Surgery whitening, one session usually significantly whitens your teeth. Some patients require further whitening at home. With home whitening, this may take two to four weeks or longer, repeated applications.
Relapse – Following completion of whitening, pigments found in food and drinks will re-stain your teeth, commonly called whitening relapse. You may use daily whitening toothpaste, available in most supermarkets.