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What you need to know about teeth whitening

For many years I presumed that Tom Cruise and his Hollywood pals were born with perfect white teeth and that’s why they were famous. It took me a while to realise that in most cases they weren’t born that way and a little bit (or a lot!) of dental ‘intervention’ had taken place.

The Americans were early adopters of buying themselves perfect pearlies while the Brits took a bit longer to figure out that you could be quite attractive if your teeth were straight, white and whole. Check out Noel Gallagher’s before and after teeth fixing photos as an example.

teeth whitening, dentists
It’s important to get your smile white!

I once worked for a very attractive man who had rather small, beige teeth. It really was a case of he was nice until he opened his mouth but after a considerable amount of money on veneers he was movie star hot! His confidence and success in the work arena spiraled upwards – it was the best investment he had ever made.

As a regular coffee drinker, mine could definitely do with a makeover! I talked to the team at Smilefocus, to understand the trends and options available for getting your teeth nice and white.

According to them there has been a noticeable change in the whitening demographic, perhaps related to the selfie generation trying to emulate that dazzling celebrity grin. Younger adults are definitely more concerned about the colour of their teeth than previously, and while women used to be in the majority, men are becoming more image-conscious and are seeking a whiter smile too.

Genetics are a significant factor in tooth colour, and most people are born with ivory-coloured teeth. Typically the colour is equivalent to “A2” based on the dental shade guide, which is seven gradations from the apogee of whiteness, B1. It doesn’t suit all people though and it’s not natural-looking; even the whitest of un-whitened teeth have tones of yellow so don’t take it too far.

teeth whitening, dentists
What are your options when it comes to teeth whitening?

Options: Bleaching or veneers?

In-clinic whitening treatment: This is popular because it usually takes less than 90 minutes and can be continued at your convenience at home. Together with some takeaway touch-up product your teeth will stay beautifully white for more than 12 months. Some take home products whiten in 30 minutes, others take a little longer. The frequency with which you use the whitening gel will also affect the long-term whiteness of your teeth.

Chairside whitening: This method can achieve a shade difference of eight to 10 graduations. The degree of change will vary, depending on the thickness and strength of the enamel of your tooth, as well as the level of the initial discolouration of the teeth. A guarantee of an expected result cannot be given because of this variation.

Laser whitening and light-activated whitening: These two treatments are basically the same, but use slightly different methods of activating the solution that whitens your teeth. Some systems require a light to activate the solution, while others require a separate activating solution that mixes with the base to start the whitening process. All of them use 35 percent hydrogen peroxide to get the same exact results. There’s no one method that’s better than another.

Bleaching the teeth is not permanent. The effect will last for anything between 12 to 36 months. Whitening will only work on the enamel of teeth; fillings and crowns will not whiten. Good oral hygiene and oral health is essential to maintain the whitened effect.

Veneers: Since bleached teeth are otherwise normal, they stain at a normal rate. For a longer term whitening solution, veneers are the better option, particularly porcelain veneers. Composite veneers are more stain resistant than ordinary teeth and porcelain veneers will remain virtually stain-free and bright for the life of the veneer, which is about 15 years. However, veneers do require some preparation of the tooth, so they are a less conservative option, but their advantages lie in their longevity and easy maintenance. It’s a larger initial outlay versus regular smaller outlays.

It’s sometimes difficult to invest in ourselves, but really when we think we might have to live with our ‘beige’ teeth, continue to be self-conscious, or keep our mouths shut for the next 50 years – then getting your teeth sorted is really a no brainer.

If you’d like to discuss prices, time frames or ask any more questions do give them a call.

Smilefocus
1 Orchard Boulevard, #08-02 Camden Medical Centre
6733 9882 | smilefocus.com.sg

Find out more about dental treatment in Singapore.

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