How Safe Is Teeth Whitening?

A smiling woman with a perfect white teeth

There is a lot of speculation and hesitation when it comes to tooth whitening. A lot of our patients have heard things through the rumour mill that have discouraged them in getting the procedure complete themselves.
Here at Bellevue Hill Dental we’ve heard statements such as:

  • It is dangerous for my teeth
  • It causes damage to my teeth
  • It thins the enamel
  • Its sensitive so that must mean it is harmful

I’m here to tell you the facts on tooth whitening and what you can expect. Then you can decide if whitening is something for you.
The Australian Dental Association state only registered dental practitioners should use teeth whitening (bleaching) agents, and they should be able to provide patients with whitening agents of up to 20% hydrogen peroxide or equivalent for home use under the practitioner’s guidance. This means there are guidelines to protect you as a patient from any harm or misconduct.

Let’s get the facts: How does whitening work?

Your teeth are made up of a hard enamel, exterior shell with a soft centre which we call dentin. Over time due to things that are put into the mouth such as food, drinks, cigarette smoke etc we build up a film which we refer to as the pellicle film. This film can be removed by seeing a hygienist regularly however, the enamel is porous therefore the hygienist cannot remove the staining from the interior part of the enamel once absorbed.

This is where whitening comes into play. A whitening agent (hydrogen peroxide/carbamide peroxide) once applied to the tooth, will travel through the porous tubules of the enamel and cause a chemical reaction which breaks down the pellicle film and in effect the whitening begins.

So where have these rumours come from when questioning is whitening is safe?

We are happy to tell you that teeth whitening does not alter the enamel of the tooth or cause any damage or weakness. However, we are led to believe this due to the side effects that tooth whitening can cause. The main one of that being increased tooth sensitivity. Although, most of our patients report minimal sensitivity, it is something we cannot measure. This is a temporary condition that often resolves itself within just a day or two after treatment. When tooth sensitivity causes our patients discomfort, we advise they should avoid foods and beverages of extreme temperatures and may want to consider switching to a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth.

So here are your options…

There are many options when it comes to tooth whitening and by speaking to one of our dentists they will be able to help you find the best suited for you. In any option you choose it is always a good idea to have a hygiene (scale & polish) before you commence treatment. This removes any external staining and tartar build-up so you can achieve optimum results.
Here at Bellevue Hill Dental we use the leading brand ZOOM for in-office whitening. This will entail of the practitioner applying the whitening agent in a controlled environment for a series of rounds whilst you sit back and relax. This is tailored to each patient and achieves instant great results.

The home whitening system consists of taking some moulds which will be used to create custom made whitening guards for you. The practitioner will demonstrate how to use them effectively and then the whitening is down to you at home. It usually requires you to wear the guards for 1 hour per day and most patients achieve their intended results within two weeks.

Over the counter whitening is often self-researched. We must stress that it is really important if you’re going to pursue this avenue that you check the reputability of the company you’re buying these from so that you know it is safe to use.

The primary drawback of the over-the-counter tooth whitening systems is that customers who use them may not be good candidates for tooth whitening, and there is no professional making sure everything works correctly.

teeth-whitening bhd

Here’s our top tips if you’re going to go ahead with whitening:

  1. Inquire on your next visit to us and we can help you
  2. Use tooth mouse or sensitive tooth paste a week prior to treatment to reduce any side effects
  3. Have a clean a few days before the treatment

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