Tips of the trade to get those pearly whites you dream of

Is your smile a little less than perfect? Do you want to change your smile for the better? If so, cosmetic dentistry is the service you need to get the pearly whites you dream of. Cosmetic dentistry is a broad term that covers many different options for improving your smile, from relatively simple procedures like inlays and onlays to complex procedures like composite bonding. If you’re looking for something simple though to boost your smile, one of the most basic procedures in cosmetic dentistry is teeth whitening. With just a little bit of work and a small expense, this procedure can drastically improve your smile.

Why might I want teeth whitening?

Over time, teeth can become stained. All food and drink can stain teeth but things like tea, coffee and red wine, which contain chromogens (colour pigments), are particularly prone to causing tooth discolouration as the chromogens can adhere to the outer surface of your teeth. Some medications, such as antihistamines and high blood pressure medication, are also known to stain teeth. Habits, such as smoking, are very effective at staining teeth too. In addition, no matter how well you brush your teeth, as you age, your teeth are unlikely to remain the pristine white they were when they first popped through your gums as a child because enamel usually thins over time allowing the colour of the more yellowish dentin layer underneath to show through. Tooth trauma can also cause your body to produce more dentin.

What does teeth whitening involve?

Before the actual whitening procedure commences, your dentist will remove any plaque, tartar or debris from all of your teeth. In other words, your teeth will get a thorough clean. Once that’s done, your dentist will then apply bleach (typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) to whiten your teeth just like you might use bleach to lighten your hair or remove stains from clothing.

How common is teeth whitening?

The short answer is, very common. In fact, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the most common improvement people wish to make to their smile is to get whiter teeth and nearly 90% of American patients request a teeth whitening procedure according to the American Association of Orthodontists.

Does whitening work for everyone?

Unfortunately no. Yellow discolouration is usually easy to correct through bleaching but brown teeth are harder to whiten and grey stains may not be possible to bleach at all. Bleaching is also ineffective if stains are due to medication or injury to a tooth. Bleaching also only works on teeth themselves (it doesn’t work on fillings or veneers for instance).

Can I just use a home whitening solution?

Yes, but there are side effects such as sensitive teeth due to the bleach going through the enamel and dentin to irritate the nerves underneath, and gum damage due to overuse of whiteners. If you want to avoid these side effects, it’s best to leave it to a professional.

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