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Frequently Asked Questions About Teeth Whitening

Restrictions on laser teeth whitening - do I qualify?
No treatments will be given to clients with asthma, during pregnancy, under 21 years, on medication, or undergoing dental treatment. A disclaimer form will be provided at time of treatment and will invalidate and indemnify us against any results on treatment.

What is teeth whitening?
It is actually a bleaching process that lightens discoloration of the enamel and dentin of your teeth.

Who may benefit from laser teeth whitening?
Almost everyone. Today it is quite possible for patients to get the extreme makeover smile formerly reserved for the rich and famous. The tooth whitening system is ideal for patients who have healthy, unrestored teeth and would like to have a whiter, brighter smile. The laser whitening process is most effective on moderately discoloured teeth. Darker stains, such as those caused by antibiotics, take longer to respond to treatment. The degree of whiteness will vary from patient to patient, depending on the structure of the teeth and the duration of time that the system is used. The whitener will not whiten veneers, crowns and bridges etc and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers etc.

Is the process safe?
Research indicated that whitening the teeth is safe and the solution that is employed has been safely used for many years in the treatment of tooth whitening. We stock many brand names such as Ultradent Opalescence Optident, Nite White ACP and Beyond White Spa. All with MSDS, FDA and PSA approval.

How does it work?
As the active ingredient in the gel is broken down, oxygen enters the teeth enamel and dentin and bleaches the coloured substances. The structure of the tooth is not changed, only the tooth colour is made lighter. The light makes this happen in a shorter time than using trays overnight or for weeks on end.

How long does it take?
IMMEDIATELY and improves over the next 24 hours as the gel will still be active within the mouth area. Results are usually seen after the first time the bleaching trays are used. Maximum results generally occur when the process is continued for 10 to 14 nights.

Are there any side effects?
Some people experience increased tooth sensitivity during the treatment. Others have reported temporary discomfort, such as gum or tooth sensitivity. These symptoms disappear within 1-2 days after interruption or completion of the treatment.

What causes teeth discolouration?
There are many causes. The most common include aging, consumption of staining substances. These substances may include coffee, tea, colas, red wine, tobacco, tetracycline (antibiotic) staining, excessive fluoride, nerve degeneration, and old restorations.

Tooth discolouration: The two types of tooth stains
There are two categories of staining as it relates to the teeth: extrinsic staining and intrinsic staining.

Extrinsic stains are those that appear on the surface of the teeth as a result of exposure to dark-coloured beverages, foods, tobacco, and routine wear and tear. Superficial extrinsic stains are minor and can be removed with brushing and prophylactic dental cleaning. Stubborn extrinsic stains can be removed with more involved efforts, like teeth bleaching. Persistent extrinsic stains can penetrate into the dentin and become ingrained if they are not dealt with early.

Intrinsic stains are those that form on the interior of teeth. Intrinsic stains result from trauma, aging, exposure to minerals (like tetracycline) during tooth formation and/or excessive ingestion of fluoride. In the past, it was thought that intrinsic stains were too resistant to be corrected by bleaching. Today, cosmetic dentistry experts believe that even deep-set intrinsic stains can be removed with supervised take-home teeth whitening that is maintained over a matter of months or even a year.

Maintaining your whiter smile
To extend the longevity of newly whitened teeth, dentists are likely to recommend:

* At-home follow-up or maintenance whitening - implemented immediately or performed as infrequently as once a year.
* Avoiding dark-coloured foods and beverages for at least a week after whitening.
* Whenever possible, sipping dark-coloured beverages with a straw.
* Practising excellent oral hygiene - brushing and flossing after meals and at bedtime.

Bleaching vs whitening
According to the FDA, the term "bleaching" is permitted to be used only when the teeth can be whitened beyond their natural colour. This applies strictly to teeth whitening products that contain bleach - typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

The term "whitening", on the other hand, refers to restoring a tooth's surface colour by removing dirt and debris. So any product that cleans (like a toothpaste) is considered a whitener. Of course, the term whitening sounds better than bleaching, so it is more frequently used - even when describing teeth whitening products that contain bleach.

Whitening shade guides
In the dental office, before-and-after tooth colour is typically measured with shade guides. These are hand-held displays of wide ranges of tooth colours. (Dentists also use them in choosing crown and other restoration shades.)

The standard-setter among them has long been the Vitapan Classic Shade Guide. This shade guide standard incorporates 16 shades, systematically arranged from light to dark into four colour groups, and provides a universal tooth-colour terminology.

While laser teeth whitening can occasionally lighten tooth colour by nine or more shades, most of those who bleach their teeth are likely to see a change of two to seven shades.