Here, in the first of our ‘guest blogs’ by our team members, dentist colleague Elizabeth Glass, gives us a full insight into the world of teeth whitening – a topic that’s certainly been in the dental world news over the last year.
Elizabeth, pictured below right, is well experienced in the techniques of effective teeth whitening and is on hand to offer any advice and answer any questions should any arise…
Here is Elizabeth’s blog –
If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and wished your teeth were whiter and brighter, read on:
Professional tooth whitening is one of the most effective ways to improve your smile and has the advantage of being simple, predictable and cost effective.
It is important to start with the small print –tooth-whitening is legal and safe when carried out by a dentist or under direct supervision of a dentist – it is illegal and ungoverned when carried out by a beautician (or other non dentist qualified individual), at a shopping centre or a wedding fair, so beware. Using the wrong product can cause irreversible harm to your teeth including discolouration and erosion so always consult a dentist if you are considering tooth whitening.
Firstly let’s consider- why do teeth discolour and how can we whiten them?
Although teeth seem solid, they are, in fact, permeable. This means that colours from food, drink and medicines can actually penetrate enamel and remain there long after that cup of tea or glass of wine is gone.
Fortunately that same permeability means that dental whitening gels can penetrate teeth and virtually bleach out these stains.
So how do we carry out professional tooth whitening?
Teeth are whitened by being covered in whitening gel for a period of hours – generally overnight. This is achieved by making you a “tray” that fits your mouth perfectly and holds the whitening gel against your teeth exactly where we want it to be.
Here at Philip Friel Advanced Dentistry our whitening trays are carefully constructed at a professional dental laboratory by a qualified dental technician; this ensures a well fitting tray.
We take time to check that the tray fits your mouth perfectly.
We then demonstrate how to put exactly the right amount of gel into the tray and show you how to place the soft tray into your mouth at bedtime.
We can determine how many nights you will use your tooth-whitening for and if you require any special instructions.
Tooth whitening will permanently change the colour of your teeth however if your diet contains food or drink that stain your teeth, you might feel that you want to give your teeth a whitening boost after six months or so. Hence it’s important you are given detailed instructions on caring for your whitening tray. We will discuss the best way of doing this so your tray maintains its exact fit and hence can be re-used at regular intervals as discussed with your dentist.
Porcelain restorations e.g. crowns, bridges and veneers are not permeable so don’t discolour and stain in the same way that teeth do. If you have these restorations it’s important to discuss tooth whitening with your dentist prior to proceeding with any treatment.
The science behind tooth-whitening products:
There is only one product that can safely be used to whiten teeth – hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide in the correct concentration and formula is safe and extremely effective. One drawback of hydrogen peroxide is that it rapidly breaks down into inactive by-products; within an hour it has broken down and is completely ineffective. Hence dental companies produce whitening gels containing a simple chemical called carbamide peroxide. Once placed in the mouth this gradually breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is effective because it provides active hydrogen peroxide for 6-8 hours. The British Dental Bleaching Society recommend using 10% Carbamide peroxide – giving a sustained release of 3% hydrogen peroxide as the most effective product. Twenty years of research have shown that this results in the most effective tooth whitening, oddly giving better results than stronger concentrations.
What’s happened to power bleaching, Zoom, laser whitening and in-surgery whitening?
On 31st October 2012 changes were made to the Cosmetic Products Regulation 2008 and all products containing more than 6% Hydrogen peroxide were banned. This led to an overnight ban on in-surgery whitening as most of these systems were based on using 20-22% hydrogen peroxide.
Are there any side effects in professional tooth whitening?
The only side-effect some patients report is a temporary sensitivity. Whitening gel manufacturers are constantly trying to improve their products by adding desensitisers. If you do suffer from or develop sensitivity we can advise you on the best way to manage it using the very effective desensitisers now available. It’s important to understand that this sensitivity is temporary.
If you are considering tooth-whitening, Philip Friel Advanced Dentistry can offer you:
- Professionally made whitening trays
- The best whitening products available
- Detailed instruction and demonstration on using your whitening system
- Advice on caring for your whitening trays
- Discuss any future needs you may have for top-up whitening
- Advise you on an integrated treatment plan if you already have fixed porcelain restorations on any of your teeth or if you are planning such restorations.
- Help you manage sensitivity if it occurs
We are happy to answer any questions about tooth whitening both from our own patients and anyone else who has an enquiry. You can contact us either via the website of by telephoning the Glasgow dental clinic on 0141 339 7579.