What are my options for teeth whitening?
There are various ways to whiten your teeth, beginning with whitening toothpastes that can remove surface stains as they occur from red wine to coffee to smoking and ending with light activated teeth whitening techniques conducted at the dentist’s which can produce dramatic improvements.
Teeth whitening techniques work either through bleaching or non-bleaching methods.
How can I whitening my teeth with bleaching?
Teeth bleaching changes the natural tooth colour with bleaches that contain, most often, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in concentrations of between 10 to 20 per cent. These bleaches remove both surface and deep stains on you teeth.
You can whiten your teeth at home with teeth bleaching products you can buy in a chemist. These products vary from a boil and bite tray that helps immerse the teeth in the bleach, to a whitening gel you can apply with a brush or whitening strips you stick to your teeth.
The next step up from at home bleaching is to get a custom mouthpiece moulded by your dentist, which you either wear for a couple of hours a day or overnight for a prescribed period (usually two weeks). As with all bleaching approaches, the stains will likely reappear. When you notice the stains beginning to appear again you simply use the mouthpiece for a night or two to get the stains off.
With the latest in dental treatments there is a “deluxe” option that is done at the dentist’s surgery where a light activated whitening session produces dramatically whiter teeth. After a year or so of eating and drinking, the teeth will become discoloured again and you will have to repeat the procedure. This approach is the most effective if suitable for your teeth, but also the most expensive.
How do I whiten my teeth without bleaching?
Non-bleaching teeth whitening methods use physical action to remove stains. You may be surprised to know that whitening toothpastes fall into this category. These whitening toothpastes have polishing agents (abrasives) that lift/scrub the stains from teeth.
The professional cleaning performed by your dentist also uses polishing and abrasion to remove most staining caused by tobacco and food.
For serious discolouration you might consider veneers or composite bonding to achieve a pleasing result. These treatment options are more invasive and may not be reversible. Consult your dentist to find the best approach for you.