In essence, teeth whitening involves chemical bleaching of the teeth to give them a brighter and lighter appearance. While teeth whitening won’t make the teeth completely white, it can lighten your teeth by several shades. Ideally, teeth whitening should only be performed by a dentist or a licenced dental professional (an oral health therapist).
While some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, the procedure will not be performed by a dental professional. If not carried out by a dental professional, you might be putting your safety and health at risk. DIY home whitening kits (if unlicenced for sale to the public) may be ineffective or contain unregulated chemicals.
What Transpires During Teeth Whitening
If you want to have your teeth whitened, expect to make at least two or three visits to your dentist. An impression of your teeth will be taken to create a bleaching. You will be given instructions on how you can apply the gel for a specific period over a few weeks.
Some whitening gels can be left on for as long as 8 hours at a time. Power whitening or laser whitening is another form of accelerated teeth whitening treatment that your dentist can provide.
A high powered LED light is used to activate the whitening gel. This in-office whitening procedure can take at least an hour to complete. Any registered and qualified dentist can carry out teeth whitening. Dental hygienists can also perform teeth whitening procedures under the prescription of a qualified dentist.
Risks of Salon and Home Kit Teeth Whitening Treatments
Some home teeth whitening kits might not contain enough active ingredient to really deliver results. Also, if the bleaching tray is not professionally fitted or is a stock size, it might not fit properly. When the bleaching tray is ill-fitting, some of the bleaching gel can leak out onto the mouth and gums, resulting in sensitivity and blistering of the gums.
Teeth whitening that is done by a dentist or other dental professionals is considered a cosmetic dental treatment. However, it is expected that costs can vary based on several factors. Compared to professional home bleaching, laser whitening is considered more expensive.
What to Ask Your Dentist Before the Procedure
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions or share any concerns you may have about the procedure. You can ask about the different types of whitening treatment options available, the expected results, and how long the results are going to last.
Also enquire about any risks involved. For instance, if you worry about any possible teeth sensitivity as a result of the procedure, this can be managed pre and post-treatment. Also talk to friends or family who have experienced professional teeth whitening before.
You also have the option to get a second opinion until you feel confident it is the best treatment option for your case. It is also recommended that you also ask for a cost estimate and a written treatment plan. Occasionally patients may require other cosmetic dentistry treatments to address their smile goals.
It is important to remember that teeth whitening is not permanent. At most, it can last from a few months up to 1 year. However, the results vary from one patient to another. Understandably, the effect of treatment will last longer if you avoid colored beverages (tea, coffee, red wine) and tobacco as these will stain your teeth.