Whitening, what’s the difference?

Best Teeth Whitening Solution at Albany Dental
Teeth Whitening Tips from Dentist at Gosford

We love a bright smile and there are so many different ‘whitening’ solutions out there at the moment that it can all get a little confusing.

First let’s cover the two different types of staining:

Extrinsic staining is caused by outside sources for stain being adhered to the tooth and changing the surface colour and texture, common causes for this type of stain may include tea, coffee, red wine or high pigment foods. Extrinsic staining may be removed with a scale and prophylaxis treatment by your dental practitioner.

Intrinsic staining has an internal origin and changes the underlying colour or dentine of the tooth. This can not only be removed with a simple scale and prophylaxis treatment and requires a whitening agent to change the underlying colour of the tooth.

What’s out there?

  • Whitening system prescribed by a dentist
  • In chair whitening not prescribed by a dentist
  • Toothpastes
  • Charcoal
  • Whitening strips
  • Gel trays (such as HiSmile)

There are many tooth whitening systems on the market however not all of them are able to achieve the same results. It is always a good idea to check a product has a whitening agent and is not only going to act upon the extrinsic staining on a tooth surface.

Why do we recommend a dentist prescribed tooth whitening solution?

Tooth whitening can be very variable and it is important for patients to know what results they can expect before committing to a procedure that could permanently alter the appearance and sensitivity of their teeth. In general we recommend having a check-up before whitening (or recently) to discuss:

  • What to expect for each person’s case.
    • Not everyone will get the same result. Due to the many factors that contribute to the effectiveness of tooth whitening it is important to remember that not everyone’s experience would be the same.
  • Are fillings or restorations present?
    • The presence of crowns, veneers, bridges or restorations (fillings) in the front (anterior) teeth is an important consideration in the tooth whitening process as the colour of these restorations will be unchanged by tooth whitening.
  • Is there any recession?
    • When the roots of teeth become exposed due to recession the structure of the tooth is behaves differently to the tooth covered in enamel. The process of tooth whitening is designed for teeth covered by enamel and therefore may have only a minimal effect on areas of recession creating a higher shade contrast between the crown of the tooth and these area where recession is present.
  • How much sensitivity can you expect?
    • Cases where patients already experience a higher degree of sensitivity may be treated in a different way, such as use of desensitising toothpaste before treatment, lower doses or different types of the whitening agent; treatment being more spread out. In some cases, people with high levels of pre-existing sensitivity maybe be advised against whitening.
  • Discolouration due to the formation of the tooth such as fluorosal spots, intrinsic staining or hypomineralisation.
    • Whitening in cases such as these can have highly variable results, with some teeth appearing mottled, due to the difference in the formation of the enamel.
  • Discolouration due to knocks, root treated or non-vital teeth.
    • These teeth are resistant to whitening as it is not the enamel that is discoloured but the layers beneath appearing darker.
  • Is there a need for a clean before commencing whitening?
    • Teeth with moderate to high levels of extrinsic staining or calculus can produce variable results due to the solution acting on the stain and calculus.
  • The effects of whitening treatments on pregnancy has not been observed and is therefore not advised.

What options do we offer?

Due to sensitivity and reliability of results we offer a personal (with an individually fitted tray) whitening system with the highest amount of active ingredient that can be prescribed in a take home kit. For patient preference we offer either hydrogen peroxide (for shorter day wear) or carbamide peroxide (for night wear).

The impressions needed are quick and painless and we can have your kit made for you within a few days. Full instructions are given and how ‘white’ you go is completely controlled by you. To make a booking, call the practice on (02) 4324 1181.

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