The colour of the teeth is one of the first thing people notice about your smile. As evidenced by the number of whitening toothpastes, gums, strips, and other products on the market, a bright white smile is a feature that many people desire.
Most teeth are not perfectly white but are a shade of light grey or yellow. Over time, teeth naturally darken. Tooth colour is also affected by consumption of food, drink, and sometimes tobacco products.
Dentists are often asked about the best and most safe treatments for whitening teeth. Store-bought products such as toothpastes and white strips are safe when used as directed and are effective for polishing or whitening the surface of the teeth. The disadvantage of these products is that they only treat the surface and do not reach between teeth or below the surface. The results will generally be slight, so these products are not recommended for patients seeking a dramatic improvement.
Cosmetic dental treatments use a tray delivery system to apply a professional whitening gel in a more controlled environment. Professional products reach below the surface to lighten the colour of the tooth enamel for more noticeable results. The precise application also helps reduce the risk of irritating the gums when compared to messy take home trays.
Laser whitening involves the addition of a laser light to speed up the process when whitening trays are in place. This can be a great option for those who don’t have time for multiple applications. Noticeable results are achieved in under one hour, but patients can receive up to three treatments total as needed.
The most common side effect after a cosmetic whitening treatment is temporary tooth sensitivity, but this does not mean that the enamel of the tooth has been damaged. When teeth are whitened the enamel pores are widened which can cause sensitivity for a couple of days, but not long term. Speak to your family dentist to learn more about tooth whitening, including treatment options, costs, expected results, and whitening for false teeth, crowns, or veneers.