The daily food and drink we consume stain our teeth. Chief culprits are coffee, red wine and smoking. With time our natural bright, white shade becomes darkened. The most successful, cost effective and simple method of teeth whitening is custom tray home bleaching.
As a patient of Elmfield we can provide you with a bleaching kit to take home with you, together with your bleaching trays. It is essential that you follow the instructions given by us and by the manufacturers in wearing the trays and applying the bleaching agent.
This depends on the amount of lightening you desire and the original shade of the teeth. If your teeth are quite dark or very yellow/grey/tetracycline-stained, it will take longer to bleach the teeth. Tetracycline-stained teeth can take 6 months or up to 1 year to bleach. Some teeth can whiten after 1 or 2 weeks. If you are not experiencing any sensitivity, you may wear the trays for at least 1-2 hours or even better sleep with the trays in your mouth. It is very important to remove all the excess material around the gums or the palate prior to sleeping with the trays. If you cannot wear the trays for a few days because of your hectic schedule, it does not matter; bleach your teeth according to your schedule. Some people put the trays in after dinner and wear them for the first hour while watching TV or doing the dishes. Then, if everything is fine, they replenish the trays and sleep with them in the mouth.
Sensitivity of the teeth is the most common side effect of home bleaching. In fact, many patients suffer from sensitive teeth anyway; this often occurs usually around the necks of the teeth where the gums have receded. If you are experiencing sensitivity, you should stop bleaching your teeth for a few days. You can resume after about 3-4 days If the teeth become ultra-sensitive you can place sensitive toothpaste to into the bleaching trays for an hour a day, which will usually stop sensitivity. Alternatively, you can rub the sensitive toothpaste into the gum margins with your finger 5 times per day for a few days. We recommend Macleans Sensitive toothpaste. If you are at all concerned, please call your dentist.
If the teeth have white spots on them before bleaching, these spots will appear whiter during the first few days; however, the contrast between the spots and the rest of the tooth will be less and eventually the spots will not be noticeable. Sometimes, the dentist can do a special procedure called
microabrasion for you, whereby the white spots can be more permanently removed. Ask your dentist about the procedure of you are concerned about this.
You may notice new white spots occurring on the teeth while you are undertaking the bleaching treatment, immediately after a bleaching session or in the morning if you have been wearing the trays for a whole night. These white spots were already present on the teeth before bleaching. As the teeth become lighter, they become more visible. Do not worry: as the whole tooth itself becomes lighter these spots will fade.
Some teeth may appear banded with lighter/whiter areas. Again, these bandings are originally present on the tooth. When the tooth is dark , these bandings are not obvious. As the tooth becomes lighter, the lighter parts of the tooth will lighten first, followed by the darker banded area. After a week or so these will not be noticeable any more.
Normally the teeth feel very clean after the bleaching procedure. The materials also have an indirect effect on the gums in helping them heal or improving health. (This is how the technique was first invented: it was first used to heal gum irritation during orthodontic treatment.)
Your smile will appear brighter as a bonus. It is rare, but sometimes the teeth do not lighten at all. If this happens and you are wearing the bleaching tray as recommended, you may need to try a different bleaching product or a slightly higher concentration of the bleaching material.
If you have white fillings in the front teeth that match the existing shade of your teeth before you bleach your teeth, they may not match the teeth afterwards. This is because your teeth can lighten, but the filling do not. When the desired colour has been achieved, the dentist can replace these fillings with a lighter shade of filling material to match your new shade of teeth. Normally the dentist will wait a few weeks before changing the fillings.
Normally the new white colour of your teeth keeps quite well. However, the effect is dependant on what caused the teeth to discolour in the first place. If you drink lots of coffee, red wine or cola drinks, the effect may darken slightly. Some patients do a top-up treatment after 3-4 years; some patients do not need to.
The dentist may ask you to return the trays after the desired shade of lightening has been achieved. This is to ensure that you do not over-bleach your teeth.
Safety studies have shown that bleaching teeth using the dentist-prescribed home bleaching technique is perfectly safe on the teeth, cheeks, gum and tissue of the mouth, Bleaching the teeth with the dentist-prescribed kits is equivalent to drinking one soda drink. The bleaching material has a neutral pH.
There are problems with the bleaching kits that are purchased over the counter. Although they are inexpensive, they normally contain an acid rinse that can damage the teeth or thin down the enamel of the teeth, which can be extremely harmful. (there has been one case where a patient purchased the kit over the counter and bleached the teeth. The teeth went darker and the patient continued over-using the treatment. Unfortunately the acid rinse had worn the enamel away and the darker shade was exposed dentine.)
The technique of bleaching teeth is not for everybody. There are some situations where bleaching teeth is contradicted (such as where the front teeth are already crowned, or there are very large fillings on the front teeth, or the teeth are excessively worn and there is tooth surface loss.) the ideal situation is where there is not much wrong with the teeth except for the colour, which has become more yellow with age.