Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps remove stains and discolouration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve and enhance your smile.

Every day, a thin coating forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains. The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained include smoking, drinking coffee, cola, tea and red wine, not brushing your teeth twice daily. Aging also makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentine becomes darker.

It is also possible to have stains inside the tooth also known as intrinsic stains. These can be caused by exposure to too much fluoride as a child while teeth are developing. Tetracycline stains can occur if this type of antibiotic is taken when a child is young or when a mother is pregnant. Trauma can also darken a tooth.

Tooth whitening is most effective on surface stains. Other dental problems can affect the success of tooth whitening. If your gums have receded, the exposed root surface may appear yellow or discoloured – whitening will not make them whiter. It may make your teeth more sensitive in these situations. Whitening also does not work on teeth that have been restored with composite resin, ceramic or porcelain crowns and veneers.

Whitening can be done in office or at home. Generally, the procedure done in the clinic (“in office”) is more effective, quicker, less hassle as it’s done once in one-hour visit. Here the dentist will apply the whitening gel on to the tooth surfaces, after isolating the gum and soft tissue from the bleaching agent and then applies a light onto the tooth to activate and speed up the whitening process.

The take home approach involves making trays to hold the whitening gel that fit your teeth precisely. The whitening gel is applied onto the tray and worn twice daily for half an hour each time for a period of ten days. You can top up every 4 months to maintain the whiteness by wearing the tray for shorter periods of 3-4 days afterwards.

Whitening is not a permanent solution. The stains will come back and how quickly depending on your daily habits of brushing, smoking, eating and drinking coloured food and drinks.

Whitening is unlikely to cause serious side effects, although some teeth may become sensitive for a short while usually for a period of 24 hours or so. You may get mild gum irritation also. Pregnant women should not have their teeth whitened as the effect of whitening materials on the development of the foetus is not known.

Call us for a consultation should you need to know more about this simple, inexpensive procedure that can easily improve your smile in an instant.