What is teeth whitening?
There are many options when it comes to whitening your teeth, and you can choose to seek the help of a dentist or purchase at-home use products. Generally, teeth whitening takes place either via a bleaching product or a non-bleaching product. Bleaching products, as the name suggests, refers to products that change the colour of your teeth and most of them contain hydrogen peroxide. Present in both over-the-counter teeth-whitening kits as well as in-clinic procedures, the strength of hydrogen peroxide can vary widely as professionally-trained dentists are able to control high concentrations needed for optimal results depending on each patient’s condition. As it is a chemical that can be potentially corrosive, hydrogen peroxide is usually found at very low levels for over-the-counter products. According to Health Sciences Authority, products with hydrogen peroxide levels of more than 0.1 per cent can only be supplied to the public via a qualified dental practitioner. On the other hand, non-bleaching products rely on the mechanical removal of surface stains and can easily be bought at personal care stores.
What causes teeth to become stained?
If you consume tea, coffee or red wine frequently, these food can stain teeth over time. In addition, other lifestyle factors like smoking or poor dental hygiene can also result in stains on the teeth. However, these refer to stains on the teeth’s outermost layer, known as the enamel. In reality, there are other reasons that can cause teeth to become stained at deeper levels, ranging from bleeding from within the tooth to the consumption of certain antibiotics. To ascertain whether you are suitable for teeth-whitening treatments and products, it is best to see a dentist who will be able to tell if the discolouration of your teeth is as a result of external or internal staining.
What is the quickest way to bleach my teeth?
For visible results in just one session, your best bet is in-clinic teeth-whitening at a dentist’s office. The entire process usually takes about one to two hours, during which your dentist will perform a standard polishing and scaling. This helps remove surface stains so your teeth comes into maximum direct contact with the teeth-whitening gel used. For most in-clinic teeth-whitening procedures, light-activating teeth-whitening gel is used, and most people will be able to achieve satisfactory results in one session. However, if you have severely stained teeth, you will require a few sessions of in-clinic teeth-whitening to reach your desired results.
Teeth-whitening gel is also only effective on healthy, natural teeth. If you have tooth decay that is causing the discolouration, it has to be removed before bleaching can be effective. Other substances like dental fillings or crowns also cannot be bleached.
What else can I expect when whitening my teeth?
As previously mentioned, the levels of hydrogen peroxide used in these teeth-whitening gel are usually much higher than those found in home-use kits as you are under the close monitoring of your dentist to avoid any damage to soft tissues like gum. Some temporary teeth sensitivity should also be expected, and your dentist will be able to help you manage any discomfort.
How can I do it at home?
As in-clinic teeth-whitening tend to be the priciest option available, you can also opt for home-use kits that are custom-made for you by your dental practitioner. In your kit, you’ll be given customised trays for your teeth, as well as teeth-whitening gels prescribed by your dentist. Depending on your condition, your dentist will advise how long you are required to wear yours for but most people usually wear theirs for one to two hours each day for gradual teeth-whitening. Alternatively, you might wish to start with these over-the-counter products: Pearlie White Travel Twin Tooth Stain Eraser & Plaque Remover, $7.60 (pictured above)
Designed to target external stains and stubborn plaque, this handy tool is perfect for those who travel frequently. With a curved stainless steel tip on one end, it removes plaque and food particles, especially in hard-to-reach areas like between teeth. On the other end is the flat surface that polishes teeth surface to remove stains caused by food and beverages like tea, coffee and red wine. Remember to clean thoroughly with water and soap, or with an alcohol wipe.
Sensodyne ProNamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste, $8.30
Perfect with those prone to sensitivity, this mild formula reinforces the enamel layer of the teeth, strengthening it against the effects of erosion from acids found in your diet. When used twice daily, it also delivers fluoride to protect teeth against cavity while gradually whitening your teeth at the same time.
iWhite Dark Stains Teeth Whitening Kit, $59.90
Developed to reduce and prevent stains caused by tea, coffee, wine and smoking, this foolproof kit uses Dark Pigment Adsorption Technology. This means that encapsulated activated carbon micropearls bind onto each tooth to neutralise and eliminate stains and bad breath once activated. With ten one-size-fits-all trays in each kit, each tray made of a soft and flexible material, ensuring the comfort and ease of wear. They are also pre-loaded with active gel so all you have to do is remove the trays from the packaging and fit one each on to your upper and lower teeth. Leave them on for 20 minutes each day, for five consecutive days for visible results.