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Before the procedure
The success of the process is dependent on the condition of the teeth before the teeth whitening begins. Before the process, cavities have to be examined and addressed as the areas of decay will allow the whitening agent to get into the inside on the teeth. If you have gum recession, your roots may not be as white as you would like and the process does not improve their whiteness.
And with crowns made of porcelain or ceramic or veneers, whitening does not make these any whiter. Tooth decay or gums that have receded may become sensitive also if whitened.
The whitening process can be achieved at the dentist or at home. If at the dental surgery, your dentist would often take a picture of your teeth as a way to measure the success of the whitening process. There will also be an examination of your teeth and a discussion to find out more about how your teeth became discoloured.
We will then remove any build up on your teeth and make sure they are clean before the whitening process starts. It is important to clear away anything that will prevent the whitening active ingredient from working effectively. Then once the teeth are clean, the process starts.
At your home, you would use the trays that contain the whitening ingredient and use the trays like a mouth guard. This process needs to be followed each day for 2 to 3 weeks. There are also kits that can be bought in supermarkets or pharmacies to be used at home. They also have trays that contain the whitening ingredient or strips that adhere to your teeth and apply the whitening ingredient. It is always advisable to talk to your dentist for advice and if you decide to use the kits please follow the instructions and DO NOT use them for longer than advised as they could possibly cause damage to your gums and teeth.
Teeth whitening procedures come in 2 forms, basically for teeth that have had root canal work done and those that are healthy. The 2 forms are called Non-vital whitening and Vital whitening.
Non-vital whitening is the procedure for a tooth that has been operated on for root canal treatment. These teeth can get discoloured. As the tooth hasn’t any nerves this procedure can be done without the need to numb the gums. The difference here is the whitening agent is placed inside the tooth and covered with a filling that would be temporary. The tooth is left for a few days and monitored to see how the colour lightens. This can be repeated until it reaches the right lightness to match the other teeth.
The other form of teeth whitening is Vital whitening and is applied to the teeth, normally through a tray that looks like a mouth guard and the whitening ingredients contain hydrogen peroxide.
The whitening procedure is either done at home or at your dental surgery, if the procedure is in the surgery, it has much more of a chance of greater success because your dentist has access to a much stronger whitening product and also has a professional laser that activates the whitening gel and therefore the whitening is activated quicker. The procedure takes between 30 minutes and an hour and a half and this will be over up to 3 visits. The actual number depends on how bad your discoloration is, how white you want them and the method chosen.
Your dentist will cover your gums with a gel that protects them first of all and then applies the whitening gel directly on to the teeth.
As mentioned above, some whitening gels need a special laser light or heat from the laser to begin to work, so the light is shone on your teeth. Your dentist may recommend you carry on the bleaching when you get home if your teeth are stained quite badly and the length of time would depend on how bad they were. It could be a couple of day to potentially weeks.
If the decision is to do your teeth whitening at home, to get an exact fit they will make a mouth piece specifically for you as it has to be perfect to allow the gel to actually bathe your teeth. This will come from an impression of your teeth taken by the dentist.
Once you get your mouth pieces, using the gel you fill up each mouth piece and wear for the time period you have been told, which will be up to several hours. It is possible and lots of people get to the whiteness you want on your teeth within 1 maybe 2 weeks. But some people may need to continue up to 4 weeks or longer, it is dependent on lots of factors and everybody is different.
If you purchase whitening kits from supermarkets or pharmacies, you will get a whitening gel that is not as strong as your dentist can provide because shop bought kits are regulated for your protection. So this whitening process will take longer. These kits have either strips or trays with gel already in sometimes. And clearly the mouth piece fit is not as good and therefore does not cover your teeth as well as the mouth piece made by your dentist.
Toothpastes that are sold as whitening toothpastes can be purchased but these do not contain the whitening gel, they are just abrasive and remove stains, they do not make your teeth any whiter. .
Go and see your dentist if your gums become sore or go white.
Unfortunately your lovely newly whitened teeth are not going to look like that forever without some maintenance and the stains will reappear, especially if you drink red wine, tea, coffee and smoke. But if you avoid these items as much as possible you could prolong your white teeth for up to 12 months.
With your custom made mouthpiece you can continue whitening your own teeth at home as often as you want, just follow the directions, to not over use. And it is always important to talk to your dentist about how often you should whiten and with what particular products.
Call us for a chat about your teeth on 0191 580 1313