Teeth Whitening

Whitening of the teeth is performed for patients who desire a brighter smile. Tooth whitening can be performed to reduce discoloration and staining, or simply to provide the patient with whiter, brighter teeth.

How white can your teeth become?

How white your teeth can become from bleaching and whitening is a common question with a very subjective answer. Some whitening procedures claim they can whiten your teeth by up to nine shades, but that is highly unlikely. Just a change of two or three shades will make a significant difference in just about anyone's smile. There is no one standard system in the dental field to measure and determine tooth colour. The most often heard about, however, is the Vita shade guide. This guide divides tooth colour into four basic shade ranges:

reddish brown
reddish yellow
grey
reddish grey


In the A range there are five levels of darkness. Ranges B, C and D, each have four levels.

Not all of your teeth are the same natural colour:

Eye teeth(canines)darkest
Front teeth(incisors)lightest


The goal for everyone is to achieve their individual optimum whiteness while still looking natural. During your first consultation for tooth whitening, your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon will go over what you personally can expect for your specific smile. How white teeth will become from a given procedure will vary from person to person. The structure of your teeth and the type of procedure implemented will affect the outcome.

The following chart will give you some idea of how to compare the two most popular methods for tooth whitening. Options should be further discussed with your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon prior to making a decision.

Procedure Usually Lasts For: May Cause During and Shortly After Procedure: Time for Procedure: Changes in Shade: Average Cost:
Gel/Tray 4 - 12 Months Sensitive Gums/Teeth 50 Hours 4 - 5 300
Laser 12 - 18 Months Minor Discomfort 2 - 3 Hours 7 - 8 650
BriteSmile 12 - 18 Months Minor Discomfort 2 Hours 8+ 400


What causes discoloration of the teeth?

Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by staining, ageing, or chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea or cigarettes. People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining.

Other genetic factors that can affect the colour of an individual's teeth. Some people just have naturally brighter enamel than others. On the other hand disease can also be a factor; fevers during childhood can affect mineralization of the teeth forming in the jaws often causing white spots. Certain medications e.g. tetracycline antibiotics are contraindicated in young children during tooth formation because of a tendency to stain developing teeth brown in colour. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.

Overview of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is used to correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. The term "teeth whitening" can refer to a number of techniques to improve the brightness of the patient's teeth. Among them are chemical whitening, mild acid whitening, abrasive teeth brightening and the newest technique, laser teeth whitening.

Whitening and Restorative Dentistry

When planning treatment special consideration is required concerning existing crowns caps and veneers which will not respond to the whitening process. Such crowns may require replacement with a lighter shade following a whitening procedure.

Teeth Bleaching

Teeth bleaching is chemical process used to lighten the colour of the patient's teeth. The procedure can be performed entirely by the Cosmetic Dental Surgeon in the chair or it can be performed by the patient in their home, using a materials supplied to the patient. The home method is often used because it saves the patient from having to make an office visit for each treatment.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure. Results can last for one to or more years, depending upon your personal habits. In most cases, the whitening procedure is very effective and the patient is pleased with the results.

How much does teeth whitening cost?

The standard fee for teeth whitening and teeth bleaching procedures is about 400 in most cases. Costs can vary depending upon the area of the country you live in and the type of whitening treatment you undergo. Laser teeth whitening has an average cost of 650.

Generally speaking, the price of teeth whitening increases with the number of chair side treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover the cost of the teeth whitening procedure.

Types of Teeth Whitening Procedures

There are a few teeth whitening procedures available that correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. While each work effectively, there are advantages and disadvantages to each procedure dependent upon your objectives and commitment to the processes. The type of procedures available should be discussed with your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon, who will recommend the most appropriate teeth whitening procedure for you.

Britesmile Teeth Whitening (Dental Chair Procedure)

Using a special light with a whitening gel, this is a bleaching system carried out as an outpatient. It is often followed up with an at-home bleaching kit if needed.

The translucent bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and a special activating light source is used to activate the crystals to absorb the energy from the light and penetrate the teeth enamel to increase the lightening effect on the teeth. The length of time in the dental chair depends on the degree of discoloration you have, but two hours is common.

Advantage:

One visit is usually all it takes for a bright smile. The tooth whitening treatment typically costs 400.

Disadvantage:

The sudden change of colour is likely to be noticed by those around you immediately.

Laser Bleaching (Dental Chair Procedure)

Using a laser with a whitening gel, this is a Dental Chair bleaching system.

The translucent bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and a laser light is used to activate the crystals to absorb the energy from the light and penetrate the teeth enamel to increase the lightening effect on the teeth. The length of time in the cosmetic dentist's chair depends on the degree of discoloration you have.

Advantage:

One visit is usually all it takes for a bright smile.

Disadvantage:

The sudden change of colour is likely to be noticed by those around you immediately. This is the more expensive of the procedures available, costing an average of 650 - but it is the quickest method.

Custom Fit Tray Bleaching (At-Home Treatment)

Impressions are taken of your mouth and a thin custom made plastic tray is made which you take home. A small amount of the bleaching gel is placed in the tray and worn for a brief amount of time each day. This is the most common technique because it's easy to use and costs less. A home whitening session can last for two to three hours, during which time you will have the tray and solution in your mouth. Depending upon your needs and desired results, your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon may instruct you to keep the tray in your mouth overnight. Typically, you will follow your home teeth whitening regimen for two to three weeks, after which time you will be seen for a follow up visit.

At-Home bleaching is used in conjunction with the outpatient laser bleaching if you have severe discoloration (dark grey or purple) or internal teeth staining.

Advantage:

A gradual whitening of your teeth over time will be less noticeable to others that you're undergoing this procedure. The cost is relatively low.

Disadvantages:

This procedure will require two to four chair side visits.

How much does tray bleaching teeth cost?

The standard fee for tray bleaching teeth procedures is about 300 or more in most cases. Depending on your cosmetic dentist, this may or may not include office visits. Costs can vary depending upon the area of the country you live in and the type of whitening treatment you undergo.

Generally speaking, the price of teeth whitening increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover the cost of the teeth whitening procedure.

Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening

Advantages:

People typically have their teeth whitened to improve their appearance. Whiter teeth are associated with beauty and a healthier lifestyle. When people have a brighter smile, they tend to smile more often and are less self-conscious.

In addition, a whiter smile tends to minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles, giving way to a more youthful and energetic appearance.

Finally, a whiter smile gives people to whom you are speaking a place to focus on and gives you a friendlier appearance.

Disadvantages:

Research indicates that bleaching is completely effective in more than 78% of people. Although bleaching is very effective, there can be short term disadvantages, such as sore gums or teeth from the bleach. This disappears when bleach use is discontinued. Some individuals are more chemically sensitive. If you are one of them, inform your cosmetic dentist so that you can be tested for sensitivity to the solution.

Bleaching will not affect the colour of crowns veneers and some other dental restorations, which may require replacement following the bleaching procedure.

In cases of serious teeth discoloration, bleaching may not be the best choice. Veneers or crowns may be the superior choice. Bleaching is usually the first solution to try due to its lower cost.

Some people experience discomfort from wearing the mouth tray. This typically goes away in short order, but if you suspect that there is a problem with the fit of your mouth tray, call your dentist's office. They can often make small adjustments that will minimize or eliminate the problem.

Before & After Photos: Teeth Whitening

Before Teeth Whitening Procedure After Teeth Whitening Procedure


Tooth Whitening

Sometimes a single tooth becomes discoloured causing it to look out of place with the rest of your smile. In these cases you may want to consider having the tooth whitened to match the rest of your teeth.

Teeth Bleaching and Dental Restorations

If you are considering teeth whitening as a part of a restorative dental programme involving cosmetic fillings, crowns / caps and dental implants:

It is important to have bleaching carried out first, this allows the Cosmetic Dental Surgeon to match the cosmetic filling, crown or cap to the new whiter shades of your teeth.