What is tooth whitening?
Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface or damaging it. Usually the original shade of the tooth is whitened to a lighter colour, rather than being turned completely white.
What does tooth whitening involve?
Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening. Your dentist will assess you first to see whether tooth whitening is suitable for you. They will tell you about the options you have for tooth whitening and which will be the most suitable for you.
The most common type of whitening is called ‘dentist-supervised home whitening’. You will have trays made specially to fit into your mouth like gum-shields. The whitening gel is then put in the trays and you will be given a routine to follow at home.
Another option is called ‘chair-side whitening’. You will be told if you are suitable for the treatment, and your dentist will supervise it. First the dentist, hygienist or therapist will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect them. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth, again using a specially made tray.
The active ingredient in the whitening product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel and dentine on the teeth and the tooth is made lighter.
How long does this take?
The total length of the treatment can vary depending on how discoloured your teeth are and the shade you want to get to. It can usually be finished within two to four weeks. First, you will need up to four visits to the dentist. Your dentist will need to make a thin mouth guard and will take impressions for this at the first appointment. Once your dentist has started the treatment, you will need to continue the treatment at home. This means regularly applying the whitening product over two to four weeks, for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.
There are now some products which can be applied for up to eight hours at a time. This means you can get a satisfactory result in as little as two weeks.
What other procedures are there?
There is now chair-side ‘power whitening’. Although this is often called ‘laser whitening’, it is not a laser that is used. Gel is painted onto your teeth and then a light is shone onto the gel to speed up the whitening reaction.
How long does chair-side power whitening take?
Your dentist will need to assess your teeth to make sure that you are suitable for treatment. Once it has been agreed, this procedure usually takes about one to two hours.
How much does tooth whitening cost?
Private charges will vary from practice to practice. Chair-side whitening will be more expensive than professionally supervised home bleaching.
How long will my teeth stay whiter?
The effects of whitening are thought to last up to three years. However, this will vary from person to person. The effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink products that can stain your teeth.
What are the side effects?
Some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. Others may have discomfort in the gums, a sore throat or white patches on the gum line. These symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.
When might tooth whitening not work?
Tooth whitening can only lighten your existing tooth colour. Also it only works on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of false teeth, such as dentures, crowns and veneers.
If your dentures are stained or discoloured visit your dentist and ask for them to be cleaned.
Why should I consider tooth reshaping?
A chip in a front tooth, some worn edges, or shallow pits or grooves in the tooth enamel are all minor issues, but they do stand in the way of having a perfect smile. If you suffer from one or more of these problems — even to the extent of a minor fracture or overlap… they all can be fixed using a procedure known as tooth contouring and reshaping.
What is tooth reshaping?
Using a polishing instrument, your dentist roughens small amounts of surface enamel of one or more teeth to compensate for the imperfections. Followed up with a smoothing and polishing of all the surrounding teeth, this quick, painless, and inexpensive procedure can make a big difference in your smile.
What are the benefits?
The goal of tooth contouring and reshaping is to change the size or shape of the teeth so that slightly damaged or out of proportion teeth are brought back into alignment with the rest. In essence a cosmetic procedure, it is most often performed on the upper central, lateral, and canine teeth. Beyond the outward benefits, there are often oral health gains, too, as smoothing the teeth and repairing overlaps can make them easier to clean, reducing the risk of the primary consideration for the suitability of cavities and gum disease. Reshaping can also be used to correct minor problems with bite and function.
How is it done?
Tooth contouring and reshaping takes place generally in one visit to your dentist, although a follow-up visit is sometimes necessary.
Using various tools, your dentist carefully polishes off small areas of the tooth surface enamel and reforms the tooth into a more attractive shape. The edges of the newly shaped tooth are smoothed and polished, completing the procedure.
After contouring, the teeth are more uniform in shape and size making them appears less crowded and eye-catching imperfections are gone. The length of the procedure is dependent on the amount of changes that are being made to the teeth, but can run from under 30 minutes to over an hour.
Will it hurt?
Because only surface enamel is removed, there is no pain involved with the procedure, so no anaesthetic is administered. Occasionally, there is minor sensitivity to hot and cold for a day or two after the procedure, but this irritation is minor and almost uniformly disappears a short time after the procedure.
Recovery for almost every patient undergoing tooth contouring or reshaping is instantaneous. You can generally eat immediately after the procedure. The removal of the small amount of enamel does not hurt the tooth nor is it replaced, so no healing is involved.
Are there any risks?
The risks involved in the procedure include the removal of too much enamel, subjecting the tooth to a greater chance of breakage or decay, or reappearance of the problem if it is due to grinding of the teeth.
However, seeing an experienced cosmetic dentist virtually eliminates these risks.
What is a veneer?
A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural colour composite material is used instead of porcelain.
When would I need a veneer?
Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten the front teeth. A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth, with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.
What are the advantages of veneers?
Veneers make teeth look natural and healthy. Because they are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond (rather like super- glue) very little preparation of the tooth is needed.
How are teeth prepared for a veneer?
Some of the shiny outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed, to make sure the veneer can be bonded permanently in place later. The amount of enamel removed is tiny and will be the same as the thickness of the veneer to be fitted, so that the tooth stays the same size. A local anaesthetic (injection) may be used to make sure that there is no discomfort, but often this is not necessary. Once the tooth has been prepared, your dentist will take an ‘impression’. This will be given to the dental technician, along with any other information needed to make the veneer. The colour of the surrounding teeth is matched on a shade guide to make sure that the veneer will look entirely natural.
How long will it take?
A veneer takes at least two visits: the first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade, and the second to fit it. Before bonding it in place, your dentist will show you the veneer on your tooth to make sure you are happy with it. Bonding a veneer in place is done with a special adhesive, which holds it firmly on the tooth.
Will I need a temporary veneer between visits?
Because the preparation of the tooth is so slight you will probably not need a temporary veneer. The tooth will look very much the same after preparation, but will fill slightly less smooth.
What happens after the veneer is fitted?
Only minor adjustments can be made to the veneer after it is fitted. It is usually best to wait a little while to get used to it before any changes are made. Your dentist will probably want to check and polish it a week or so after it is fitted, and make sure that you are happy with it.
How much will it cost?
The cost for this treatment can vary so it is important to discuss charges and treatment options with your dentist before starting treatment.
How long will a veneer last?
Veneers should last for many years; but they can chip or break, just as your own teeth can. Your dentist will tell you how long each individual veneer should last. Small chips can be repaired, or a new veneer fitted if necessary.
What about alternatives?
A natural-coloured filling material can be used for minor repairs to front teeth. This is excellent where the tooth supports a filling, but may not work so well for broken tooth corners. There will always be a join between the tooth and the filling material.
Crowns are used for teeth which need to be strengthened – either because they have broken, have been weakened by a very large filling, or have had root canal treatment.
Composite resin bonding can be a fast, minimally invasive and inexpensive option for the beautiful smile you’re looking for. But knowing what makes you a good candidate can help you determine if it’s the right investment for you.
What is Composite Bonding?
Composite bonding is a cosmetic technique wherein a type of dental material – in this case, composite resin – is shaped and moulded on your teeth to give the appearance of straighter, fuller or a whiter smile. It can be used as a cosmetic solution to chipped teeth, gapped teeth and staining in both teeth and fillings. Unlike porcelain veneer placement, which can take more than two visits, composite resin bonding can be completed in one appointment.
Who is Composite Bonding right for?
Composite resin bonding isn’t for everyone. If your smile is crooked as the result of an over- or underbite, this treatment won’t serve to correct it. Instead, speak with your dentist to determine if more in-depth work is needed like adjusting your bite or any complex chips or gaps in your teeth. Bonding is primarily for those who seek a cosmetic solution for teeth that are otherwise healthy.
What can you expect during your visit?
Composite bonding is a safe and effective technique that was developed more than 50 years ago, and has been widely available for over three decades. The fillings and processes today are very efficient, making it easier for both you and the dentist.
The treatment itself often starts with the removal of minimal surface enamel, allowing the dentist to best shape the composite resin to your tooth, followed by the application of the bonding agent. Your dentist will then add composite resin, cure it with a special light and finish by polishing your teeth. Because the process involves a high level of technique for a natural mold and shape, this process can take up to a couple of hours but the end results are worth it.
What Aftercare Is Needed?
With normal care, today’s composite material is durable enough to last without regular attention; you won’t need to seek out your dentist for special visits. Nonetheless, make sure to keep your regular dental check-up and daily oral care a priority, a yearly polish of the composite is advised to up keep the bonding. You should also avoid biting down on particularly hard foods, or ice, to prevent cracking.
If you’re interested in achieving a brighter smile, composite resin bonding is a great option. Be sure to take care of your other oral necessities, first, to ensure your natural smile is healthy inside and out.