What Is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is the process of removing stains and discolouration from your teeth. Depending on the method used, the process will either remove external stains from your teeth or aim to change the external colour of the tooth itself.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Yes. Every method of teeth whitening used, whether it’s laser whitening or a DIY kit, is safe when done properly. If you’re not careful though, excessive use of DIY products can burn your gums. Teeth whitening may also weaken your tooth enamel, making it prone to damage.
How Is Teeth Whitening Done?
Whitening actually bleaches your teeth using hydrogen peroxide; the same stuff people use to bleach their hair. DIY whitening kits and professional dental bleaching will always involve hydrogen peroxide, as it’s proven the most effective chemical for removing stains.
Professional Teeth Bleaching: What You Need To Know
If you decide to get the procedure done at a dentist, they will offer you one of two options: professional bleaching, and laser teeth whitening. With professional bleaching, your dentist will protect your gums with a shield, then apply the whitener using a tray custom-moulded for your teeth.
The whitener will contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As it breaks down, oxygen penetrates your tooth enamel and makes it lighter. This method will need two or three sessions, and you have to continue treatment at home by applying the product over two to four weeks.
With laser whitening, your gums are protected with a rubber dam, then bleaching product is painted onto your teeth. The product is activated using a laser, speeding up the breakdown of the chemicals. This method is faster than traditional bleaching, as it can make your teeth up to six shades whiter in one hour or less. With both methods, results can last anywhere from six to twelve months.
DIY Whitening Kits And Products
Dental appointments can be pricey, so if you want to bleach on a budget, there are over the counter products you can try. Your options for home whitening are gel strips, hydrogen peroxide whitening paint, and whitening gel pens. Popular dental care brands such as Crest and Colgate have whitening products you can pick up at the supermarket. Some products promise results in as little as three days, while others will take over a week for a noticeable difference.
There are some kits sold online that come with mouldable bleaching trays and a bleaching product. Some of them even include a laser to activate the whitener and toothpaste to restore tooth strength after bleaching. People buy them thinking that they’re pretty much the same thing that dentists provide. However, the one-size-fits-all tray in these kits means that excess bleach can leak which could potentially damage your gums!
If you use a DIY whitener, make sure you check that it has hydrogen peroxide. If it doesn’t have it, it’s not going to work! Some products will claim they’re peroxide-free, but chemicals like carbamide peroxide or sodium perborate will break down to release peroxide. Check the concentration: the higher it is, the stronger it will be. But that also means it’s more likely to damage your gums and teeth!
The Home Remedy Route
There are some well-known natural ways to whiten your teeth, like brushing with baking soda and lemon juice, or even rubbing your teeth with a banana peel! These methods are often abrasive, and while they may gradually whiten your smile, they can cause serious wear and tear.
One home product that doesn’t use hydrogen peroxide is being praised online: charcoal toothpaste. This black paste is said to be the best way for natural teeth whitening, improving your oral health and keeping enamel intact. The verdict’s still out on how effective it is, though!
The Difference Between A Professional Treatment And DIY Teeth Whitening
The biggest difference between going to the dentist and doing it yourself? Your dentist will make moulds of your teeth to make a custom whitening tray for you. This allows precise application of hydrogen peroxide and minimal contact with your gums.
Your gums will get burns if they’re in contact with hydrogen peroxide for too long, so it’s much safer to get it done by a dentist. Some dentists offer whitening treatments that you can do at home after you’ve gotten your tray made, so you can schedule bleaching time at your convenience. These kits are much safer and stronger than commercially-available products.
In terms of cost, professional bleaching is much more expensive at around $AUD800 per session. Whitening gel strips cost around $AUD30 to $AUD50 for a box, which is a huge price gap. But dentists are permitted to use products with a higher hydrogen peroxide concentration which will inevitably give you quicker, and longer-lasting effects.
The best part is that your dentist will assess your dental health, so they can choose a peroxide concentration that will maximise whitening, but minimise damage. This isn’t something you can control with a home kit!
Try Any Of These For A Pearly-White Grin!
Before you try any of these treatments, consult your dentist first so they can check how strong your teeth are. The stronger they are, the safer it will be for you to try teeth whitening. And don’t forget to brush regularly – teeth should be healthy as well as white!