If you’ve already decided you need teeth whitening, the next decision is what kind of treatment is appropriate for you.
You can either have teeth bleaching professionally performed by a cosmetic dentist, or choose a DIY option at home. Both kinds of treatments may suit you, depending on your financial circumstances and on the type of tooth discolouration you have.
Here we’ll run you through some of the things to consider when making your choice.
Why are your teeth stained?
Before you lock in on a whitening method, it’s important to identify what type of teeth staining you are dealing with. Teeth discolouration falls into two categories.
When the enamel of a tooth is stained, it is known as extrinsic discolouration.
This type of external staining results from eating and drinking certain staining foods and beverages, like coffee, dark teas, wine, colas and soft drinks. It can also be caused by smoking or chewing tobacco, and by aging, when enamel naturally thins and becomes more susceptible to staining.
When the dentine (the inner structure of the tooth) is stained, this is called intrinsic discolouration.
Dentine can become discoloured for a variety of reasons, including exposure to certain medications as a child (such as tetracycline antibiotics), exposure to excess fluoride, trauma to the teeth, certain genetic conditions, and aging.
The reason why your teeth are stained will determine the best course of treatment. Your dentist can make an assessment of your teeth and advise you if the problem lies with the enamel, the dentine, or both.
What sort of treatment suits extrinsic discolouration?
If your tooth enamel is stained, you may be able to address the stains via the following methods.
- Regularly having your teeth professionally cleaned and polished
A regular dental cleaning can do wonders for maintaining the natural shade of your teeth. Cleaning and polishing can remove a surprising amount of surface material, that may appear as stains on your teeth.
- Home whitening using commercial teeth whitening products
There are numerous home treatments available, including teeth whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, strips and trays. These generally need to be used regularly over a period of time before they have much of an effect.
Whilst home whitening is generally cheaper than whitening performed by a dentist, the impact of home whitening treatments is less effective and the shade achieved is likely not as light.
- Home whitening using a professional teeth whitening kit
A professional at-home whitening kit with custom made whitening trays and professional-strength whitening gel allows you to be in control of your whitening treatment in the comfort of your home.
You will need to use this kit regularly over a period of time to get desired results. Combine a professional at-home whitening kit with an in-chair whitening treatment for the ultimate package to maintain your new white smile.
- Teeth whitening performed by your dentist
Teeth whitening treatments administered by a dentist, such as Zoom Whitening (see details below), will likely be more expensive than using a home product. Whilst this method may seem expensive initially, it may work out to be an economical option, given you don’t have to purchase and administer treatments repeatedly at home. In addition, the shade achieved by a professional whitening treatment in a single session will be far lighter than a home treatment (teeth may be lightened by up to 8 shades).
What sort of treatment suits intrinsic discolouration?
In some cases, a dentist may be able to bleach the inside of the stained tooth, or use the Zoom Whitening method. If these methods aren’t effective, porcelain or composite veneers are good options.
Beachside Dental offers Zoom Chairside Whitening, a procedure performed under supervision by a dental professional.
Hydrogen peroxide whitening gel and a Zoom light are used to penetrate the enamel and dentine, and this breaks up stains and reduces discolouration.
Zoom whitening procedure takes up to 90 minutes. You may experience sensitivity for one to two days after the treatment, but it should not result in permanent sensitivity.
Porcelain or composite veneers cover stained teeth so they appear lighter in colour.
Composite veneers are more affordable than porcelain veneers but are prone to staining in a similar way to natural tooth enamel, and therefore require ongoing care and maintenance.
Porcelain veneers are resistant to ongoing staining, so are a great option if you want to keep your teeth white for as long as possible.
Tips for maintaining white teeth
Teeth whitening treatments have temporary results, and stains may gradually return over time. You may need to repeat whitening treatments at intervals.
To help maintain the light shade after a teeth whitening treatment, follow these tips:
- Avoid the things that stained your teeth in the first place, such as drinking staining beverages, or smoking.
- If you wish to indulge in the occasional coffee or wine, rinse your mouth with water quickly afterwards.
- Maintain a good regimen of teeth flossing and cleaning at least twice daily, and ensure you receive regular professional cleans from your dentist.
Beachside Complete Dental Care will be happy to discuss teeth whitening with you, and help determine the best treatment for you.