A white, bright smile can transform your smile, boost confidence and can even give you greater success in work and love but is teeth whitening safe? Can whitening damage your teeth?
While teeth whitening treatments are getting cheaper and more accessible for most people, fake products and whitening treatments which may harm you are also on the increase. For this reason, it’s important to know what you’re doing before taking the plunge. As an adult, you only get one set of teeth and it’s all too easy to damage them permanently. Before discussing safe teeth whitening products it’s important to understand the reasons for yellow teeth and why there are different types of teeth whitening.
Yellow Teeth – Intrinsic and extrinsic staining
Unfortunately, yellowing teeth is a natural part of ageing. Just as your hair turns grey your teeth will also start to turn a dull yellowish shade. It’s actually the inner part of the tooth, the dentin, that becomes darker with age and not the outer enamel. This type of tooth staining is known as intrinsic staining. The tooth enamel thins with wear and consequently the dentin reflects through the enamel to appear as a dark yellow colour. Other things like tooth grinding and acid foods can also cause the enamel to thin.
Besides ageing, intrinsic staining can be caused by:
- Trauma to the teeth
- Genetics – sometimes yellow teeth run in the family
- Too much fluoride
- A rare dental disorder known as Dentinogenesis Imperfecta which turns the teeth brownish yellow
Extrinsic staining refers to discolouration of the outer enamel only and this is caused by eating and drinking dark coloured food and beverages. Typically, this includes such drinks as tea, coffee, red wine, cranberry juice and grape juice and foods such as blackberries, cherries, tomato sauce, and soy sauce. Smoking or chewing tobacco is also a cause of extrinsic staining.
Safe teeth whitening products/treatments
Before going ahead with any type of teeth whitening it’s always best to visit your dentist as he or she can diagnose the type of tooth staining you have and ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Depending on whether you have intrinsic or external staining will determine the best teeth whitening method for you.
Any tooth whitening treatment is safest when carried out by a dental professional since they can use the most appropriate products to lessen any bleaching teeth side effects and they can also recommend the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
Extrinsic staining is the most common type of tooth discolouration which affects our patients and is the easiest to treat with teeth whitening peroxide-based procedures. Hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient in teeth whitening products which lifts stains and bleaches or whitens teeth.
Intrinsic staining is a much harder nut to crack since it doesn’t respond well to bleaching and whitening may only last a few weeks at most. For patients with intrinsic staining looking for a permanent solution to their yellow teeth we often recommend porcelain crowns or veneers which conceal discolouration and flaws. Since porcelain doesn’t stain, their smile retains its whiteness for the duration of the crowns or veneers.
Is teeth whitening safe at home?
Yes, provided you have a healthy mouth and don’t overdo it. It’s best to have a clean and polish treatment with our hygienist to ensure teeth are in tip-top condition before whitening. Sometimes using a “whitening toothpaste” afterwards will keep your teeth looking clean and white; other times you may want to use teeth whitening strips which can be effective in the short term provided teeth are reasonably even. You can also use a store-bought teeth whitening kit but since they contain lower levels of peroxide you may be disappointed with the results. Another thing to be wary of when using this type of take-home kit are badly fitting trays which may cause the whitening gel to leak out onto your gums causing irritation or burning.
How to prevent extrinsic staining
Extrinsic stains can be avoided by limiting your consumption of dark coloured food and drinks coupled with twice daily brushing and flossing. Since teeth whitening results are best on healthy teeth, patients will also benefit from regular dental check-ups and cleans. In answer to “is teeth whitening safe” then yes, provided it’s done correctly and by a dental professional.
If you’re considering teeth whitening then don’t take any chances. At Evergreen Dental, we use the Zoom method of teeth whitening which can be carried out chairside, or by means of a professional take-home teeth whitening kit, or a combination of both. Why not call us today on (02) 8074 3849 and book your teeth whitening consultation?.