What does tooth whitening do?
Tooth whitening can be a highly effective, yet very simple way, of
lightening the colour of teeth without removing any of the tooth
surface. It is very safe and results in no lasting physical changes to
your tooth enamel or gums.
What does the procedure involve?
In most cases the dentist applies the whitening product using a
specially made tray which fits into the mouth like a gum shield. The
active ingredient in the product is normally carbamide peroxide: a
very mild bleach safe for use in the mouth.
If the tooth has been root treated, the canal, which previously
contained the nerve, may be reopened and the whitening product is
In both cases, the procedure needs to be repeated until the right
shade is reached.
How long does the procedure take?
First of all you will need 2 visits to your dentist. Your dentist will
need to make a set of very thin 'trays' and will take impressions for
this at the first appointment. Once your dentist has started the
treatment, you will have to continue the treatment at home. This will
mean applying the bleach regularly over 2-4 weeks. The amount of
time the trays are in your mouth depends on the concentration of
the bleach. Your dentist will advise you appropriately and give you
Why would my teeth need to be bleached?
Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour varies, so
do our teeth. Some teeth have a yellowish tinge, some are more
beige - very few are actually 'white'. Teeth also yellow with age can
become stained on the surface by food and drinks such as tea, coffee
and blackcurrant. Calculus (tartar) can also affect the colour of the
teeth. Some people may have staining inside their teeth. This can be
caused by certain antibiotics or tiny cracks in the teeth, which take
up the stain.
Will I be happy with the results?
Treatment results may vary depending on the original shade of the
teeth. It is not possible to accurately predict who tooth whitening
will work best for. Most people will see an improvement of 1-3
shades on your dentist's shade guide. Teeth will tend to darken
slightly over time. The effect lasts for around 1 to 3 years, although
sometimes it can last longer. You can 'top up' your whitening by
buying additional syringes of gel and repeating the treatment every
6 months or so.
What are the side effects?
Some people find that their teeth are sensitive during treatment, but
this wears off after a short while. The use of a sensitive toothpaste
can help during the whitening process.
What about home kits available in the pharmacy or
Over-the-counter kits are not recommended as they contain only a
very small amount of hydrogen peroxide which makes the product
less effective. Some also contain mild acids, while others are
abrasive. Although these products are cheaper, whitening is a
complicated treatment procedure and should only be carried out by
a dentist after a thorough examination and assessment of your teeth.
It is very important to follow the instructions your dentist gives you,
and to make sure that you go for any follow-up appointments
When might whitening not work?
Whitening can only lighten your existing tooth colour. Whitening
only works on natural teeth. It will not work on any type of 'false'
teeth. This includes dentures, crowns and veneers. If dentures are
stained or discoloured, it may be worth visiting the dentist and
asking him or her to clean them. Stained veneers, crowns and
dentures may need replacing. Again, ask your dentist.
What about whitening toothpaste?
There are now several whitening toothpastes you can buy. Although
they do not affect the natural colour of the tooth, they can
beeffective at removing staining and therefore improving the overall
appearance of the tooth. Whitening toothpaste may also help to keep
up the appearance, once teeth have been professionally whitened.
You should hold on to your trays. In future you need only
buy some additional syringes of gel to keep the effect
Johnstone Dental Practice
10 Walkinshaw Street
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Telephone: 01505 321030
(c) Johnstone Dental Practice
Monday: 8.15am - 5.30pm
Tuesday: 9.00am - 5.30pm
Wednesday: 8.00am - 5.30pm
Thursday: 8.15am - 5.30pm
Friday: 8.30am - 5.00pm
Closed for lunch 1-2pm