Many of us desire a smile that shows off our beautiful white teeth. But what happens when your smile isn't as bright as you'd like it to be.
Why do teeth become discoloured?
Teeth naturally come in a wide range of colours from off-white to pale yellow. However, there is a range of factors, usually lifestyle related, that can adversely affect a person's tooth colour.
For example, teeth may become discoloured as a result of a person's diet; tea, coffee and red wine can all contribute to the darkening of ones teeth. Other lifestyle factors such as smoking and poor oral hygiene can also result in discolouration, as can medications such as some antibiotics, antihistamines and blood pressure tablets. Trauma and aging may also result in a change to a person's naturally occurring tooth colour.
What are the treatment options?
Despite the numerous causes of tooth discolouration there are a number of ways to whiten your teeth and to improve their appearance. These methods vary in terms of effectiveness, risk, convenience and cost.
In-chair dentist teeth whitening treatment
Having your teeth whitened by your dental professional is the safest, quickest and most effective way of achieving your maximum whitest smile in the shortest possible time. With Philips Zoom teeth whitening it is possible to achieve up to 8 shades whiter in a single visit with your dentist.
We recommend this approach to our patients who are looking for rapid results.
This treatment usually involves firstly applying a protective gel to the areas of the gums adjacent to the teeth. This is done to help prevent exposure of the more sensitive soft tissues to the whitening agent. The teeth are then painted with the whitening agent and a Philips Zoom WhiteSpeed LED light is used to accelerate the effects of the whitening agent for maximum results in minimal time. A key advantage of this approach, other than the rapid results, is that the intensity of the light is adjustable and can therefore be customised to maximise the comfort of each patient individually.
Best of all, when you are being treated by your dental professional, you know you are in safe hands.
Take-home whitening treatment
For some patients it may not be convenient to be treated at the dental surgery. For these patients we recommend a take-home treatment option.
This will still require an initial consultantion with your dentist so that a personalised whitening tray molded specifically for your teeth can be made. The dentist will also be able to check your general oral health to make sure that teeth whitening is a safe procedure for you. The dentist will provide you with a number of tubes of whitening agent and instructions on how to safely use the product.
Depending on your personal preferences and with the advice of your dental professional you will get the product that best suits your needs. Some products such as Philips Zoom DayWhite are designed to be worn during the day, whereas Philips Zoom NiteWhite can be used overnight. It is important to follow the instructions given to you by your dentist as different concentrations of whitening agent need to be applied for the appropriate length of time.
Talking to your dentist about teeth whitening will ensure you get the healthiest treatment option for you.
There are a number of less effective treatment options that can be purchased from pharmacies.
This includes whitening toothpastes, generic bleaching trays, and whitening strips. These products are generally less effective for a number of reasons, but mostly due to the lower concentrations of whitening agent within the product. Also, unlike the treatments provided by your dentist, these products are not specifically molded to your own teeth and can exposes the sensitive soft tissues to the whitening agent, which may result in unnecessary sensitivity.
The lower concentrations of whitening agent combined with ill-fitting trays or plastic strips will also usually require much longer to achieve your desired results.
We would always recommend you consult your dental professional before making any decisions on using over-the-counter products.
What are the possible side-effects?
As with all medical and dental treatments there a number of possible side-effects. By consulting your dentist prior to starting any teeth whitening treatment you can ensure you are fully informed about the possible risks and to get the confidence that you are a suitable candidate for teeth whitening.
Although this is not a comprehensive list, some of the side-effects that may be experienced include: tooth discomfort or pain; sensitivity to temperature; cheek & gum irritation; sore throat. However, any adverse reaction to teeth whitening is usually mild in nature and tends not to persist for more than a few days.
However, if you do experience any of these symptoms, it is best to talk to your dentist who may apply topical fluoride or recommend the use of a "sensitive teeth" toothpaste. Pain relieving medication can also help to ease any discomfort.