Myth Busting | Teeth Whitening
Posted by: Jodie Blades Diploma Level 3 in Dental Nursing
Medically reviewed by: Dr Shan Lam BDS (Bris)
Is teeth whitening safe? Will it strip your enamel? Can you just use the bleach you have at home? What really are the facts?
If carried out correctly – it’s completely safe! Plus, it’s a quick, easy and effective way of transforming your smile.
To understand tooth whitening it’s important to understand the structure of a tooth. Put simply, without the boring science bits, there are 3 main layers to a tooth. Enamel, dentine and the pulp or the nerve which is connected to the body’s nervous system.
Whilst enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is not completely solid or impermeable. It is covered with microscopic holes (remember these, they’re called the ‘tubules’) However, it’s important to note, enamel has no ability to feel or to grow back; it’s an inert material and once it’s gone, it’s gone!
Under the enamel sits the dentine- This is a much softer, much more porous and much darker layer than the enamel. But it’s also much smarter, with the ability to repair itself and the ability to feel sensitivity.
The ratio of dentine to enamel is different in everyone and in each tooth; your canines for example, always appear darker than your other teeth, this is because of a higher dentine to enamel ratio.
The goal of tooth whitening is to change the colour of these top two layers!
How does Teeth Whitening work?
Whichever treatment option is recommended for you, be it ‘home teeth whitening’ or ‘in-surgery laser teeth whitening’, the mechanics are the same. Contact of the teeth whitening gel on your teeth lightens the natural shade.
So remember those tubules we mentioned?
The gel penetrates these tubules, like water in a sponge and the oxygen molecules from the whitening gel react with the discolored molecules in your teeth, breaking the bonds that hold them together. The oxygen spreads and in doing so gradually removes the stain resulting in whitening of the entire tooth! (Sorry… we got a bit scientific there didn’t we?)
What is the BEST way for you to whiten your teeth?
The answer is easy- with a qualified dental practitioner. This way you are guaranteed to be using controlled chemicals (no, not under the sink bleach!) that have been deemed safe by all regulatory bodies.
No risk of irreparable damage to your enamel (which we know doesn’t grow back!). No burnt and blistered gums. And most importantly, you get support and guidance. Not only when choosing the best treatment option for you, but throughout the process and with an appropriate maintenance regime too. (Sadly, teeth whitening is not a do it once and it’s done type of treatment! – unless you’re strong enough to give up tea, coffee, red wine, & Indian food …No? Neither can we!)
Do I HAVE to sleep with a gum-shield on?
No, if night-time wear is something that fills you with dread then there are other options such as, day-time and in-surgery whitening. There are two common whitening gel ingredients that these treatments use.
Carbamide Peroxide– this includes added stablisers, which allows for a longer contact time, making it ideal for night-time wear.
Hydrogen Peroxide – which has a starting wear time of just 30mins; which is perfect for day-time whitening and in-surgery use.
Both have their part to play and each has their benefits so BOOK A CONSULTATION NOW to see which treatment is right for you!
Please note – we would always advise a full dental examination to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy before proceeding with any teeth whitening treatment. At Holland Park Dental Centre, we are currently running a NEW PATIENT SPECIAL OFFER, so to take advantage of this as well, call us now!)