About Tooth Whitening

Dr Bigg News: About Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening has become a very popular dental treatment that can remove everyday stains and vastly improve your smile… Here the Dr Bigg discusses all aspects of tooth whitening, explaining the benefits, the procedure, and why it is actually a healthy option!

As the years go by, our teeth naturally darken due to staining from tea, coffee, tobacco and wine. Everybody wants lighter, brighter teeth, the same light and bright colour they were when we first had them, as research has shown that a patient aged 45 years or older looks 10 years younger if their teeth are whitened.

It’s a ‘scalpel free’ face-lift!

Dentists want to whiten teeth because there is no other technique, other than Orthodontics or ‘braces’, which does as little damage to the teeth than bleaching. Whitening with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide has been practised since the middle 1980s and shown to be safe and effective.

The only other ways of improving the appearance of front teeth are by crowning, (capping), or by placing porcelain or composite resin veneers.

  • Crowning has been used for many years to restore unsightly or damaged teeth. Though successful in most cases, about 60% of the tooth is removed when crowning and this can lead to a weakened tooth and fracture, or even a dead nerve later.
  • Porcelain veneers are less destructive, but still involve some tooth removal. They may last 5 to 12 years before fracture or discoloured edges can become a problem.
  • Composite veneers are the least destructive and can usually be placed with little or no tooth preparation. They last 3 to 7 years before they need re-facing or replacing, depending on how much you smoke or consume staining food, such as red wine or black coffee.

But why should Dentists worry about how much tooth is removed when a restoration is prepared?

Because our patients are living longer and longer and retaining their teeth into old age, we dentists have a duty to restore teeth by removing as little enamel or dentine as possible. Every technique used where dentists remove healthy tooth weakens it and could lead to its extraction in the long term.

So that’s why bleaching is such a healthy option!

Since November 2012 the law concerning bleaching in the UK has changed and dentists in the European Union are now able to whiten teeth with hydrogen peroxide up to a maximum concentration of 6%. This has meant that all the Power Whitening techniques, which you may have seen advertised involving heat, light or lasers, are no longer used in this country and have been withdrawn from the market.

So if you want to have your teeth whitened your dentist will need to assess your mouth to make sure it’s suitable. Generally, tooth bleaching would not be suitable if your mouth has many discoloured crowns, veneers or fillings in the front teeth. Dark staining caused by dead teeth and very sensitive teeth can also be a problem, but these can always be overcome by using special techniques.

The procedure for modern tooth whitening is an initial appointment to assess your mouth and to take impressions for bleaching trays. These are small, thin mouthguards that are provided at the next appointment with instructions to wear for an hour or so over two weeks or overnight if possible. After two weeks you return to the practice for assessment. Generally, two weeks are sufficient to whiten your teeth to the colour you want, and from time to time you will need to 'top-up' the whitening with one or two days bleaching, but after the initial treatment this occurs very quickly.

So tooth bleaching is safe, successful and predictable! If you want to brighten your smile, we can help! Contact Penny at Milton Dental Surgery on 01993 831 396 or penny@drbigg.com and she can provide you with further information.

Posted: 31 March 2016