Good & Bad Teeth Whitening

Tooth Whitening, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

The Cheap, and the Not So Cheap

A youthful, white attractive smile is something that many people wish to have, in order to look younger, feel better about themselves, and have more confidence.

Have you ever noticed how kids teeth are much whiter than adult teeth?

And, as we get older, our teeth get darker. This is because teeth are basically hollow tubes of dentine, and enamel, and on the inside, is the dental pulp (often called ‘the nerve’ of the tooth). In time, the inside of the tooth fills up with more dentine, which is darker, more opaque, and thus, our teeth will tend to get darker

Thus, we as humans are used to thinking that, white teeth equals youth and vitality, and old, dark teeth are a sign of aging.

Teeth whitening systems have been around for many years, however, initially, they had many issues. Most, quite simply, did not work, and most that did, had many problems with teeth sensitivity.

Broadly speaking, teeth whitening products can be categorized into three types

  1. In office chair side whitening
  2. Whitening products dispensed by a dentist, in a custom made tray
  3. Over the counter/brush on types

Usually, the chemicals used are either hydrogen peroxide, or carbamide peroxide (which is more stable, and tends to be used more commonly).

The smaller the concentration, the less active the whitening will be, and the slower the change will be. However, there is less chance of sensitive teeth with a lower concentration.

In office chairside whitening ie Zoom, Laser smile.

These are well know brands that most people now have heard about. Basically, a very high concentration is placed on the teeth, and left for 20 minutes, and replaced two times. A light is placed. Strangely enough, all the scientific evidence is that the light DOES NOT improve the results!. It is really just a brilliant marketing tool for zoom!

I have a number of issues with this. Firstly, it is very expensive, typically about the thousand dollar mark!

Secondly, since the concentrations are very high, many people get sensitivity for many months. I have had three of my patients have it done elsewhere, one had ongoing sensitivity for eight months, one six months, and one thirteen months.

Thirdly, teeth inevitably get a little darker. Particularly if you love your coffee, tea, red wine and smoking!

Even if you avoid all of these things, our teeth gradually get darker, as more dentine is made. So, when you want a ‘touch up’ be it in six months or three years, you are up for another $1000!

Custom made trays by a dentist.

This is my preferred method (I am the owner of 7to7dentist.com) An impression (a mold) is made of a patients teeth and gums, and a flexible, comfortable plastic tray is made up. We show you how and where to put the whitening solution in. It can be worn, for up to an hour or two, twice a day. Typically, most people will do it once every day or so.

Results are seen after the first few days, desired results typically one to two weeks.

If you get some sensitivity, it will be mild, and then, just leave the trays out for a day or three, until things settle down. You will still wind up with the same end result, it will just take a bit longer!

Always keep the trays, and the box they came in. When you need a touch up, then there is a simple and inexpensive fix, simply buy another tube of the whitening agent from your dentist.

Over the counter medicines, paint on whitening agent, etc.

Most of these have a very low concentration of ingredient (typically 1% hydrogen peroxide, 3% carbamide peroxide). Many have NO whitening ingredients whatsoever! Some simply contain phosphoric acid, which etches the teeth, makes them white, and also sensitive, until they get wet with saliva!

Another issue is that there are often reasons why peoples teeth are dark. Decay, gum problems, and internal staining.

Without a good check up and cleaning done by a professional dentist, you will not know whether your teeth are healthy enough, to bleach.

Natural enamel will lighten, fillings, such as composite, crowns, bridges and implants will not. Because of this, existing fillings or crowns on front teeth may need to be replaced after tooth whitening is finished.

Kindest regards

Dr Paul Stephens