Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface.
It cannot make a complete colour change, but it may lighten the existing shade.
There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened.
Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth, and our teeth can also become more discoloured as we get older.
Your teeth can also be stained on the surface by food and drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine and blackcurrant.
Smoking can also stain teeth.
‘Calculus’ or tartar can also affect the colour of your teeth.
Some people may have staining under the surface, which can be caused by certain antibiotics or tiny cracks in the teeth which take up stains.
Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening.
Your dentist will be able to tell you if you are suitable for the treatment, and will supervise it if you are.
First the dentist will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect them.
They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth, using a specially made tray which fits into your mouth like a gum-shield.
The ‘active ingredient’ in the product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter.
Your dentist will need to assess your teeth to make sure that you are suitable for the treatment.
Once it has been agreed, the tooth whitening procedure usually takes about 90 minutes.
Most Medical Aid Service Providers do not offer cosmetic options like tooth whitening as a procedure they are willing to cover.
Private charges will vary from practice to practice and region to region.
Laser or power whitening will be more expensive than professional bleaching.
We recommend you get a written estimate of the cost before you start any treatment.
The effects of whitening are thought to last one to two years. However, this will vary from person to person. The effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink products that can stain your teeth. Ask your dentist for their opinion before you start the treatment.
Some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. Others may have discomfort in the gums, a sore throat or white patches on the gum line. These symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.
If any of these side effects continue you should go to your dentist.
Home kits are cheaper.
Because tooth whitening is a complicated procedure we advise that you always talk to your dentist before starting the treatment.
Many kits sold over the counters in pharmacies and in stores, carry risk, or do not contain enough of the whitening product to be effective and some kits sold over the internet may contain mild acids and abrasives.
Although they do not affect the natural colour of your teeth, they may be effective at removing staining. Therefore, they may improve the overall appearance of your teeth. Whitening toothpaste may also help the effect to last, once your teeth have been professionally whitened.
We recommend that you look for our accreditation symbol on the packaging of oral care products. This is a guarantee that the claims made about the product have been scientifically and clinically checked by an independent panel of experts.
Tooth whitening can only lighten your existing tooth colour. Also it only works on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of ‘false’ teeth such as dentures, crowns and veneers. If your dentures are stained or discoloured visit your dentist and ask for them to be cleaned.
You can help keep your teeth white by cutting down on the amount of food and drink you have that can stain teeth.
Don’t forget, stopping smoking can also help prevent discolouration and staining.
We recommend the following tips to care for your teeth:
• brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
• cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
• visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Activated charcoal is a fine-grained black powder made from a variety of natural substances, such as coconut shells, olive pits, slowly burned wood, and peat.
The powder becomes activated when oxidised under extreme heat. Activated charcoal is very porous and highly adsorbent. It also has a wide surface area.
Unlike absorbent substances, activated charcoal’s adsorbent nature allows it to bind to toxins and odours, rather than soaking (absorbing) them up.
Despite its popularity, there’s no scientific evidence backing up activated charcoal’s benefits for teeth.
It’s important to protect your teeth by using products that won’t wear down enamel. Since overuse of activated charcoal products can lead to teeth erosion, use them cautiously.