Tooth whitening is quickly gaining in popularity.
Among the most common techniques are:
- in-office whitening
- at-home whitening using trays
- over-the-counter whitening agents
There are two types of products used to whiten teeth:
- Bleaches: They discolour teeth, meaning that they actually alter the colour of the enamel; they contain peroxide, an ingredient that can reduce deep and surface stains.
- Whiteners: They do not alter tooth colour and are made with ingredients that only eliminate surface stains (e.g. toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum).
If you are looking for a brighter smile, speak to your dentist during your next visit.
In addition to thoroughly examining your mouth, your dentist can:
- determine why your teeth are not as white as before and assess the chances of success of a treatment
- recommend the best whitening method for you
- regularly monitor the results of the treatment
A prior dental exam is particularly important for people who have had many dental restorations. Some restorations, especially those located in the front of the mouth, may need to be replaced after whitening to ensure they match the new tooth colour.
Toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum and other whitening products do not change the colour of your teeth, but simply remove surface stains.
Some people get better whitening results than others. Teeth with yellow discoloration usually respond better than brownish teeth. If your front teeth have crowns, veneers or small composite fillings, these restorations may have to be replaced after the whitening, to make sure that all your teeth are the same colour.
What you need to know
Current clinical studies indicate that most products are harmless if the instructions for application are followed to the letter and all warnings are obeyed. Undesirable side-effects vary from one patient to another, depending on the individual’s state of health. The most frequent side-effects are tooth sensitivity and possible irritation of soft tissues like gums.
- The Order suggests that expectant or nursing women wait until after their pregnancy or nursing period before having their teeth whitened.
- Children under age 12 should not use teeth whitening products.
Before choosing a whitening option, be sure to consult your dentist.