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Tooth whitening is an effective way of lightening the natural colour of teeth without removing or damaging any of the tooth surface. Very few people have brilliant white teeth, as teeth can become discoloured with age. Your teeth can also be stained on the surface through food, drinks and for those who smoke, smoking can also discolour your teeth.
Whitening is achieved by soaking the teeth in a carbamide peroxide gel (10-14%). The gel is held in place by a thin, vacuum-formed mouthguard. The gel releases hydrogen peroxide which penetrates into the tooth and changes the colour of the enamel and dentine. The gel is most active during the first two hours. Most courses take 2-4 weeks but can take longer.
Colour stability can vary depending on the individual. Research suggests this can be anywhere between one and ten years. Certain factors e.g. smoking, can decerease the length of the whitening effect.
The gel is perfectly safe to use. The main reported side-effect is increased sensitivity to cold. This can be controlled by the use of a sensitive toothpaste during treatment, and it normally subsides after the treatment is complete.
Tooth whitening does not change the appearance of existing fillings, veneers, crowns or dentures. This may mean that additional treatment will be required to replace mismatched restorations after whitening.
A thorough dental examination is required before commencing whitening. This allows us to diagnose the reason for the discolouration, and to identify any additional treatment which may become neccessary after the whitening treatment (e.g replacing mismatched crowns or fillings). Once the decision is made to go ahead, then an impression is made for the mouthguards. An appointment is made about a week later to fit the mouthguards and demonstrate the application of the gel. A record is made of the existing colour of the teeth and often photographs will be taken. Follow-up appointments are then made every 2-3 weeks to review progress.
Tooth whitening is a private treatment and you will be given a treatment estimate plan from your Dentist before the treatment commences.