Teeth Whitening Frequently Asked Questions
Most of us start out with nice white teeth, thanks to their porcelain-like enamel surface. Our tooth enamel is designed to protect the teeth from the effects of eating and drinking (and especially consuming sugar) however over the years the enamel is worn down. This means that they become more transparent and you will start to see the yellow colour of dentin — the tooth’s core material — to show through.
During everyday eating and chewing this dentin core remains intact while millions of micro-cracks occur in the enamel – all very normal! It is these cracks that gradually fill up with stains and debris. As a result, the teeth eventually develop a dull and more yellow appearance.
Teeth whitening removes the stains and debris and the cracks are either re-mineralized by saliva or filled up again with organic debris.
What Causes Tooth Staining?
Age: As you get older your teeth will darken as a result of staining from everyday eating and drinking, together with some wear.
The earlier you start whitening your teeth, the more effective the results will be. For example as a teenager the whitening is fairly quick and effective as the teeth are generally not particularly stained.
As you get older and the teeth begin to show a yellow cast, whitening may require a little more effort. The yellow colour may become more brown and your teeth may develop more stubborn stains which can be more difficult to remove.
Starting color: We are all equipped with an inborn tooth color that ranges from yellow-brownish to greenish-grey, and intensifies over time. Yellow-brown is generally more responsive to bleaching than green-grey.
Translucency and thinness: Some of us have thinner and more transparent teeth, most noticeably the front teeth, and these type of teeth may be more tricky to whiten and they have less pigment in them that is necessary for bleaching. Our cosmetic dentists will let you know if we don’t think your teeth are suitable for whitening treatment.
Eating habits: We all like our foods and drinks that unfortunately are not great for keeping our teeth shining bright! Red wine, coffee, tea, cola, carrots, oranges and other deeply-colored beverages and foods causes considerable staining over the years. Also, acidic foods such as citrus fruits and vinegar contribute to enamel erosion. As a result, the surface becomes more transparent and more of the yellow-colored dentin shows through.
Smoking: Sadly, along with everything else that’s bad for you, nicotine leaves brownish deposits which slowly soak into the tooth structure and causes discoloration.
Grinding: Griding your teeth grinding can add to micro-cracking in the teeth and can cause the biting edges to darken.
Trauma: Falls and other injuries can produce sizable cracks in the teeth, which collect large amounts of stains and debris.
How White Can You Go?
So bearing in mind everything we mention above, including your age and how stained your teeth are, results from teeth whitening treatments can vary from person to person. Before you embark on any whitening treatment, ask your dentist for a realistic idea of the results you are likely to achieve and how long it should take to achieve them.
Our cosmetic dentists in Milton Keynes can show you a shade guide and while whitening can occasionally lighten tooth color by nine or more shades, most of those who bleach their teeth are likely to see a change of two to seven shades.
Is there any risks involved with whitening my teeth?
Always consult your dentist before using teeth whitening treatments as your teeth may not be suitable (see info above).
Teeth whitening is generally very safe but there are certain things to be aware of:
Sensitivity: Whitening can cause a temporary increase in sensitivity to temperature, pressure and touch. This should last no longer than a day or two and we recommend using a sensitive teeth toothpaste.
Gum irritation: if you are using a home whitening kit with trays then you may experience some gum irritation but this will stop after the whitening treatment has stopped.
If you have both teeth sensitive and gum irritation, then limit how often you carry out the teeth whitening treatment.
Can I whiten my crowns or veneers?
Restorations such as bonding, dental crowns or veneers are not affected by teeth whitening treatments and therefore maintain their default colour while the surrounding teeth are whitened.
If cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers or other restorations are part of your treatment plan, they should not be placed until a minimum of two weeks following bleaching to ensure proper adhesive bonding, function and shade matching.
How do I look after my newly whitened teeth?
Our dental team in Milton Keynes recommends the following after your whitening treatment:
- Avoiding dark-colored foods and beverages for at least a week after whitening.
- Whenever possible, sipping dark-colored beverages with a straw.
- Practicing excellent oral hygiene – brushing and flossing after meals and at bedtime.
How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?
At home tray whitening costs £403 and Zoom whitening in practice costs £561.
Call or message us today for a free online consultation to discuss your teeth whitening options for a brighter smile!