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All About Tooth Whitening

Sep 4, 2008
As the title suggests, teeth whitening is a process of removing discolouration and stains from teeth and bleaching them to achieve a whiter smile. Badly stained teeth can even benefit from a simple scale and polish from a dental hygienist.

Most dental practises will offer a combination of immediate surgery teeth whitening and a customised take-home whitening kit. Both bleach the teeth with a peroxide based compound varying in strength. The high the concentration of peroxide in the compound the more powerful it will be. Strong peroxide solutions will more effectively whiten the teeth but could also cause damage to the surrounding gum tissue and mouth.

It is imperative that a dentist isolates your gums and lips with protection to avoid burning them with peroxide. Dentists will use a high concentration of peroxide but properly protect your mouth and gums, whereas home kits tend to have a much lower concentration of peroxide to avoid any damage occurring away from the surgery. High strength home whitening kits are becoming available, but these should be considered with severe caution. Teeth whitening should not be carried out without the supervision of a qualified dentist.

The home kit offers more permanent results over a longer time, whereas laser whitening can produce immediate results. A combination of the two treatments ensures instant and long-term results.

Procedure
Before any whitening treatment, a dentist or hygienist will clean the teeth, removing any surface stains and tartar. This is called a scale and polish. They will then make a record of the colour and shade of the teeth before the treatment to show the patient the visible results of the procedure.

Then some protection is placed around the gums so that only the teeth are exposed to a highly peroxide concentrated compound. This may be rolls of cotton or special protective gel material which hardens once applied.

A cheek retractor is used to keep the lips and cheeks away from the teeth while they are being bleached. Eye protection is also provided to prevent any damage to the eyes from the laser used or accidental splashes of peroxide.

The whitening gel is applied to the teeth and some dentists expose it to a light or laser for around an hour. This, they argue, speeds up the whole process making the peroxide compound more effective.
When the compound is washed off and the gum protection is removed, the dentist will evaluate the results by using a shade chart or comparing digital photos.

Side Effects
Most people experience a little sensitivity in their teeth for up to 48 hours after initial treatment. The dentist should supply a gel or mouse to be applied to teeth to reduce sensitivity, and advise those undertaking treatment to avoid hot and cold food and drinks for 48 hours afterwards. Some dentists will offer a fluoride treatment to reduce the sensitivity immediately after the procedure.
About the Author
James Hull offer cosmetic dentistry , tooth whitening and general dental surgery around the country.
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