Tooth enamel, the outer layer of our teeth is composed of microsopic crystalline rods. Enamel serves a protective function to buffer our teeth from the daily mechanical effects of chewing, as well as the thermal effects of hot and cold. Over the years enamel is worn down and becomes more transparent, allowing the second layer of our teeth which has a core yellowish hue, the dentine, to show through. Microscopic cracks also occur in the enamel during function and these microscopic cracks fill up with pigments and debris derived from our diet. All these result in a discoloured smile that is less than desirable.
Teeth whitening is the most popular and the least invasive of cosmetic dental treatments to brighten and whiten yellowing teeth. The tooth whitening system uses a mild bleaching solution such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient in the gel enters the microscopic creaks, the pigments are broken down and released. The structure of the tooth is not damaged.
Two major teeth whitening options are available today. Both rely on varying concentrations of peroxide and varying application times.
The major advantage of the in-office whitening method is the immediate results it delivers. A specially designed lamp shines a gentle light on your teeth, working in tandem with a proprietary whitening gel to accelerate the whitening process. This light has been clinically proven safe for tooth enamel as well as skin, gums and other soft tissues.It emits virtually no heat and no harmful UV (ultraviolet) light. Clinical Studies prove that In-office treatment results in an average improvement of 6-9 shades, in about one hour. Safety studies conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found conclusively that whitening resulted in no structural change in teeth; no adverse impacts on fillings and no softening of tooth enamel. These study results were confirmed by senior researchers at New York University.
Customised take-home whitening kits produce the best results over the long term. A replica of the teeth is made and bleaching trays are then fabricated over them. The perioxide gel is loaded onto the tray which is then fitted over the teeth. The tray is worn for half an hour to two hours each day (depending on the concentration of the gel) for a duration of 2 weeks.
Good oral hygiene practices including brushing and flossing will ensure that the veneers last a long time. Veneers, like your natural tooth structure, can chip or break if it is subject to heavy biting and large forces and patient should avoid these.
Most cases will experience some degree of sensitivity. This sensitivity seldom lasts more than 24 hours and patients are advised to avoid extreme cold (ice cream is not a good idea) and heat.
Because teeth whitening only works on tooh structure, dental crowns, tooth coloured fillings are not whitened and will remain the same colour. There may be a need to replace these fillings if the colour contrast is significant after the teeth whitening process.
Whitened teeth will require maintenance because they are exposed to pigments derived from the diet. For this reason, our clinic issues a complimentary maintenace home kit. We recommend a touch up every 6-12 months depending on your diet. Patients who take coffee, red wine, curries and dark coloured foods regularly will require more frequent touch ups than another who avoids these foods.