Teeth whitening – what are the different types available at the dentist?

Tooth Whitening at Polished Dental

In our last blog we talked about the differences between teeth whitening products available over the counter and specialized custom products from the dentist. In this blog we will delve deeper into the types of whitening available at the dentist.

  • Take home teeth whitening

Take home teeth whitening requires at least two appointments. In the first appointment we take molds to make a custom tray. Once the tray is ready we then check the fit to ensure it is a precise fit for your teeth and issue the whitening agent. This whitening agent is then placed in the tray and worn for approximately an hour a night for up to 2 weeks.

This method takes longer than the alternative in chair method but can be helpful for patients prone do sensitive teeth.

One large positive to take home whitening is provided your teeth stay in the same position, the trays can be used with remaining or new whitening material for refresher whitening courses – for example a year after the initial whitening course or before an event like a wedding.

  • In chair whitening

In chair whitening is the most effective and thus fastest way to whiten teeth. The whole process is done in the dentist chair. In this appointment, a barrier is placed to separate the gums and tongue away from the teeth. With this in place, we can then use a much stronger whitening agent. This allows the whitening to occur before your eyes.

We often recommend this option for patients who are more particular or those who have an event they wish to have the whitening ready for – such as a wedding or a party.

We also recommend you have a take home whitening treatment made as well – as it is an excellent way to maintain your newly fresh white smile with annual top ups

This image displays the relative concentration of active ingredient in various whitening solutions.

Tooth Whitening at Polished Dental
Tooth Whitening at Polished Dental
  • Single tooth whitening

An extra type of whitening available at the dentist is an internal bleach for root canaled teeth. Root canaled teeth can turn darker than neighboring teeth as there is no longer a nerve keeping the tooth hydrated and also because of the medicaments used when treating the tooth inadvertently causing internal staining.

Single tooth whitening can take several appointments – determined by how stained the tooth was to start with and also how the well the tooth responds to the whitening agent. In the appointments, a space is made within the tooth in which the whitening agent is placed and left and sealed over. This whitening agent is left in for several days to work and patients return to see how the tooth has reacted and see if another round of treatment is to be completed or enough whitening has been completed.

In very stubborn cases where internal whitening cannot achieve the desired results – we can place a cover over the front of the tooth. His can be in relatively inexpensive composite filling material or more aesthetic veneers or crowns.\

Click here to learn more about our teeth whitening service and how we’d be happy to help you! 

Tooth Whitening – Difference between OTC/dental products?

Tooth Whitening at Polished Dental

Tooth Whitening – What is the difference between over the counter/supermarket products and dental products.

A very common question we have from patients is:

Do whitening toothpastes you buy in stores or whitening packs you buy online work?

It’s a very broad question and there are a few aspects we need to consider to decide if they will work for you.

  1. What type of stain are you trying to fix?

Most whitening agents will work by breaking down or physically polishing away stains that have adhered to the tooth surface – for examples stains from coffee, teas and coloured soft drinks.

There are many other sources of discolouration however for which whitening agents will not work. These include; naturally darker teeth (from such things as thinner enamel and acid wear`), tooth decay and developmental staining within the mineral structure of the teeth.

It is important to know the type of stain because if the stain is from the latter group – whitening products will not work and any money spent on products will unfortunately be wasted.

  1. Is it safe to use the whitening product?

Whitening agents cannot be used if the nerve within the tooth is going to be directly exposed to whitening material. Examples of exposure include teeth with holes (or decay), cracks and teeth where the gums have receeded. Whitening agents are completely safe to use in teeth where the nerve is protected, but when no, the nerve can become very sensitive after treatment. This is why we recommend all patients have a check-up before whitening to prevent damaging nerves of teeth potentially leading to more issues and expense.

So you’ve had your check up and want to find out what’s right for you?

  1. Types of over the counter whitening agents:

Abrasive whitening toothpastes

Most whitening toothpaste available in supermarkets have an abrasive – aimed at lightly polishing away any stains. These can work – but to a limited degree. The worry is that the abrasive, with regular use, can wear away whiter enamel – which actually then leaves you with darker teeth. On the other hand – there is a worry that these abrasives are not strong enough for certain stains so there the risk of wearing away enamel comes with no potential gain.

Toothpastes with a chemical active agent

There are several chemical active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide These work by chemically breaking down stains so that they then lift off enamel.

These are now available in some toothpastes and whitening packs. These can have a positive effect but are dependant again of the type and intensity of the stain. As these toothpastes aren’t delivered in a custom tray the paste touches not only the teeth but the gums and tongue and therefore the concentration of the active ingredient is much lower as to prevent irritating soft tissue in the mouth.

  1. Professional whitening from the dentist.

Professional whitening from the dentist can be more expensive than other alternatives because it very customised. By making a customised tray for you – the chemical active agent can be used in a much higher concentration. When used in the higher concentration – the stains can be removed much more efficiently and the custom trays prevents soft tissues like gums and tongues from becoming irritated.

This image displays the relative concentration of active ingredient in various whitening solutions.

Tooth Whitening at Polished Dental
Click to read more about Tooth Whitening at Polished Dental.