7 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Teeth Whitening

June 15, 2017

Want pearly whites? Read this first.

Most of us would agree a smile showing straight, white teeth is highly attractive on any person, and studies have actually shown whiter teeth can lead to greater success, both professionally and in your personal life, so it’s no surprise the cosmetic industry has recently been flooded with teeth whitening products.

From gels, to pens and strips, the at-home teeth whitening options are endless (there’s even recipes for DIY teeth whitening treatments using pantry staples like turmeric and coconut oil for the budget-conscious).

But if you’re looking to replicate that pristine white Hollywood smile, the only real way to achieve jaw-dropping results (pun intended) is with an in-chair professional whitening treatment at your dentist’s office. And by far the most popular right now, is Zoom Whitening. However Philips Zoom ambassador, Sydney based cosmetic dentist Dr Luke Cronin, says the treatment is still largely misunderstood by clients coming in looking for a new smile, which is why it’s essential to do your research first. Here are seven things Cronin says you absolutely need to know when considering the treatment…

1. You’re actually whitening the inside layer of your teeth, not the enamel

Teeth whitening treatments use either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to whiten or bleach teeth. After the gel is applied to your teeth, the ingredients are activated by an LED light.

“The gel penetrates the tooth’s external layer of enamel to whiten the color of the tooth’s internal dentine,” explains Cronin.

“The tooth’s enamel is translucent and reflects the light, so by whitening the internal color of the dentine and removing staining on the enamel you lighten the colour of the tooth.” 

2. At-home whitening treatments are very different to Zoom whitening

While at-home teeth whitening kits are a lot cheaper than having it done by a dentist, be prepared to get a very subtle result in comparison to the latter. In order for store-bought whitening kits to be safe, they contain only a fraction of the hydrogen peroxide compared to the real deal, which means the whitening effect is anything but dramatic. Unless you’re willing to ensure dozens (and dozens!) of repeat treatments.

A Zoom in-chair treatment contains 25 per cent hydrogen peroxide, whereas the at-home kit only contains six per cent – quite a drastic difference, which explains why you can expect to achieve one to two shades difference at home, whereas a dentist can get your teeth to lighten by up to nine shades.

“In-chair treatments are done under the supervision of a dental professional to deliver immediate and noticeably whiter results,” explains Cronin.

3. It’s perfectly safe to have a whitening treatment if you have fillings

Many people believe they can’t get professional teeth whitening if they have any fillings, which, let’s be honest, most of us have. However, it’s absolutely fine to go in for the treatment, even if you ate way too much candy as a kid (*ahem* and maybe as an adult…). The main thing to note is that the shade of fillings won’t change, so if they’re at the back of your mouth, it’s not a problem. If they’re in more visible areas, Cronin advises having them replaced with new white fillings for a more uniform result.

Before (left) and after (right) the Philips Zoom Teeth Whitening Treatment

4. Everyone’s shade of white is different

Contrary to popular belief, a teeth whitening treatment doesn’t deliver the same shade of white for everyone.

“Like fingerprints, your tooth color is unique thanks to the color of the tooth’s internal dentine, and the translucency of the tooth’s external enamel,” says Cronin.

The peroxide bleaches the internal dentine, but the end result depends on each person’s unique natural shade, which depends mostly on genetics.

5. It may not be totally pain-free

Teeth-whitening may sound scary, as you may have a lot of negative memories associated with dentist appointments, and while it is definitely not as bad as getting a filling, there is a bit of discomfort involved, depending on your individual pain threshold.

“The minor sensitivity you may experience when getting your teeth whitened is actually a completely different sensitivity to the type you might get when you brush your teeth,” explains Cronin.

So even if you fall into the category of people who have sensitive chompers, don’t write off having your teeth whitened completely, but definitely be prepared for your teeth to be slightly more sensitive for the first 24 hours post-treatment. Most patients describe the feeling as the odd tiny zapping sensation.

6. It won’t last forever

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely stop the natural discoloration of teeth that happens to everyone throughout the course of their lifetimes, so if you want to maintain enviable pearly whites you’ll almost certainly need a repeat treatment some time in the future.

“Staining of the tooth’s external enamel will occur over time due to diet and lifestyle choices,” says Cronin; but you can expect your professionally whitened teeth to stay white for anywhere between six to 18 months, depending on your genetics and diet.

You will also receive an at-home teeth whitening kit with some gel syringes after your in-chair treatment, so you can maintain your white for longer and use it whenever you feel your teeth need a touchup.

7. It won’t give you Instagram teeth

This may sound unnecessary to even mention, but Cronin often has to manage his patients’ expectations and make them understand a teeth whitening treatment will not magically give them perfectly aligned, white-as-snow smile as seen on their fave Instagram makeup bloggers, who typically have veneers fitted to achieve a perfect grin.

“Patients will often talk about wanting a ‘Hollywood smile’; while whitening can lighten the shade of the tooth to a point, an ultra-white uniform shade is only achieved using porcelain veneers,” the dentist says.

So before booking a teeth whitening session, know what you want. You may think it’s the shade of your teeth that bothers you, but it may be the shape and alignment, too, in which case, consider talking to your dentist about other options.

Featured image via tumblr.com.

Comment: Have you ever had your teeth whitened? What was your experience like?

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