Teeth whitening is one of the most asked about procedures we do. Why? Because teeth look better when they are whiter! There are different methods depending on the cause of the discolouration.
What causes discolouration of teeth?
- The natural colour of teeth in humans varies and can be quite dark, especially if you were exposed to certain antibiotics as a child while the teeth were still forming, before eruption.
- External staining and hardened plaque/calculus/tartar can also alter the colour of the teeth.
Many foods and drinks cause staining such as:
- Red wine
- dark fruits and vegetables such as beetroot and berries
If staining is the cause of your discolouration then often the teeth can appear much whiter after professional scaling and cleaning.
Other Types of Discolouration:
- Non-vital tooth: This is when the ‘nerve’ in the tooth may be dead. The tooth may have suffered trauma, the canal may be calcified or there may have been previous root canal treatment. Usually this discolouration is the case if there is one or two teeth darker than all the other ones.
- Old fillings, especially amalgam fillings, can show through thin enamel of the tooth causing it to look darker.
- Old crowns, especially crowns with metal substructure and porcelain coated on top.
- Enamel formation defects – problems with how the enamel formed before the tooth erupted into the mouth.
- Individual variation in a person – different people simply have different coloured teeth.
- Increasing age – as we get older the enamel on our teeth wears and becomes thin, allowing the tooth layer underneath which is more yellow to show through more.
Because there are so many varied causes of discolouration, it is important to have an examination appointment to assess the health of the teeth and decide which method of whitening is most appropriate depending on the cause.
The treatment could involve:
- Professional cleaning.
- Replacement of existing fillings.
- Internal or external whitening.
This is where a tooth which has previously had root canal treatment is whitened internally. The tooth is reopened at the back where the access to the root canal was made and then a whitening solution is put into the tooth. A temporary filling is placed and then the patient returns in around a week to have whitening solution removed from the tooth and filled.
External whitening – this is achieved in one of two different ways.
- At Home Whitening involves having impressions taken of the teeth which are used to make custom trays to apply a whitening gel for an hour each night for 1 to 2 weeks.
- In Office Whitening or Zoom Whitening is where the whitening is performed in the dental practice usually by our Hygienist. Gel is applied to the teeth and a light is used to accelerate the process. In about an hour the whitening is completed.
Both methods provide permanent whitening of an average of around 2- 3 shades noticeably whiter. We find people who are time poor or not wanting to wear trays each night favour the ‘In Office Whitening’.
The ‘At Home Whitening’ method is less expensive than the ‘In Office’ method, but both options are competitively priced at CDP. Please contact us for more information.