Tooth whitening is a great option for patients to lighten their teeth without damaging them. Cutting teeth for veneers or crowns to make your teeth whiter is a destructive option, and will not last a lifetime. Bleaching of your teeth can be redone at any time with top-up gel kits.
It is critically important to have your teeth assessed by our dental team to see if they can bleach. Some colours of teeth bleach better than others, for example, yellower teeth bleach better than grey. Fillings, crowns or any other dentistry will not bleach, but your natural teeth will. Occasionally we replace the darker fillings with new white ones to your bleached teeth. At the dental assessment, we check for decay, cracks, leaking fillings, root recession as these will compromise the end result. Dental treatment should be completed prior to bleaching.
Some teeth have bands or splotches or are multi-coloured, and these teeth are harder to bleach, and may take much more time. The bleach may not whiten these teeth uniformly.
TOOTH WHITENING PROCEDURE
Impressions are taken of teeth with a plasticine-like material called alginate. These are poured into stone models and the bleaching trays are custom fit to your teeth.
Photographs of how your teeth look before bleaching are taken with a shade or colour tab, and repeated a month after bleaching is complete.
An air polish of your teeth is done on the day when you receive your bleaching trays. This removes any stain and allows the bleach to penetrate the outer layer of your teeth (enamel) optimally. This gives the teeth a pre-whitening boost.
We recommend you use a sensitive-reducing toothpaste after the impressions are taken, i.e. a week before you receive your trays, and then until you have finished bleaching. We suggest bleaching overnight for 10-14 days.
You will receive a kit containing your custom-made bleaching trays, sensitive-reducing toothpaste and bleaching gel tubes. A teardrop in each tooth compartment is plenty. Using a tissue or cottonball to remove any excess bleach that goes below the tray margin, helps the bleach not contact the sensitive part of your tooth.
- Floss and brush your teeth.
- In a counterclockwise motion, twist and pull off the clear plastic cap from the end of the syringe.
- Place the mixing nozzle on the end of the syringe and secure by twisting the mixing nozzle in a clockwise motion.
- Place a small “teardrop” amount of gel in each tooth compartment in the tray.
- Place the tray with the gel in your mouth. As you insert the tray, be careful not to push the gel out of the tray. You may see ‘bubbling’ within your trays while wearing them. This bubbling is actually part of the whitening process.
- Use extra care to avoid getting gel on your gums. Remove excess gel with a cotton swab or a dry toothbrush.
- After whitening, rinse the trays with cold water if necessary use a toothbrush to remove any residual gel. Place the trays in the storage case, and store them in a cool dry place.
- Rinse and brush your teeth to remove any excess gel.
During the whitening process, your teeth will become dehydrated and may go quite white or have streaks. Once finishing bleaching, the final colour matures, saliva rehydrates your teeth and this is the bleaching complete. Some patients do more bleaching a year later, or after their hygiene visit for a scale and polish. Unless your teeth have changed dramatically, the trays will still fit, and you will only need a top-up gel tube – around $25.
The alternative way of whitening teeth is in-house whitening. We do not provide in-house whitening as it tends to be more painful for the patient and more than double the cost for a similar outcome.
RISKS OF TOOTH WHITENING
All patients will exhibit some form of sensitive teeth during the whitening process. Some patients get very minor, and some will be too painful to do more than one or two days in a row. We recommend for the sensitivity to have e.g. Sensodyne placed in the bleaching trays overnight or for a few nights, instead of the bleaching gel. This will help desensitise the teeth again.
Patients that have sensitive teeth may not be able to bleach as it is too painful. We recommend using a 10% carbamide peroxide rather than the 22% most patients use.
Teeth that have decay will not bleach and would become painful and sensitive, hence they must be restored beforehand. The trays have been trimmed to avoid having the bleach contacting the roots of your teeth, however some bleach may leak onto these surfaces if you don’t remove the excess.
Some bleach may go onto your gum and this can make the gum go bright white if left and not removed with a tissue. Left for a long time, this will burn the gum. Custom-made trays that fit just over your teeth and do not extend onto the gum will significantly reduce the chance of this happening.
Teeth will undergo a relapse due to the food and drinks you eat; you may require a top up whitening kit. Once your trays have been made, unless they undergo significant change in position or shape, the trays will last a long time; you will only have to buy a tube of bleach to top up your colour. This is more cost-effective and beneficial than crowns or veneers.
Tooth whitening in combination with straightening your teeth orthodontically, is the best longest lasting option, least destructive option compared with cutting teeth for crowns or veneers, which will ultimately need replacing.