We all know how important it is to take care of our teeth, but no matter how good our dental hygiene (and intentions!), sometimes stubborn stains and discolouration still occur. Thankfully, to help achieve a brighter smile, whitening your teeth is an option on the cards, but what’s the procedure really like? We spoke to Dr Nijam Latiff from Coast Dental to find out more.
Thanks for speaking to us Dr Latiff! So, who is and who isn’t eligible for teeth whitening?
Generally, whitening your teeth is a safe and conservative treatment, so people of most ages are eligible. Although, if you’ve got several cavities or very poor gum health, you may need additional treatment to achieve a better result.
Who would you describe as an ideal candidate for whitening?
Anyone who wants to see an overall improvement in the colour of their teeth, which could be stained due to ageing, foods such as coffee or tea, or from smoking.
Talk us through what happens in the initial consultation.
First, we’ll find out your treatment goals and expectations. Photos of your teeth will be taken to determine their initial colour, and we’ll compare that to the expected shade you’d like to achieve.
At this point, people sometimes comment on the shape of their teeth too – they may be too long, too small or slightly crooked, or showing too little or too much of the gum area when they smile. We’re open to discussing alternative treatment options too, then we can decide which treatment will be best for you.
What are the options?
There are two choices: in office or at home whitening. If you opt for treatment at the clinic, we’ll place a highly concentrated whitening gel on your teeth for three separate cycles, lasting twenty minutes each. Your gums and lips will be protected using a barrier to minimise the risk of sensitivity or irritation. Along with this, we use an activating light on the teeth. After the 60 minute treatment, you’ll go home with custom trays to continue the whitening at home for one week – this gives the best results.
Alternatively, we can create customised trays for you to whiten your teeth in the comforts of your own home. In this case, you’ll be given four tubes of the whitening gel which is of a lower concentration that you can wear while watching TV or while you sleep.
What will you feel during the treatment?
Whether in the clinic or at home, whitening is generally a comfortable and painless procedure. Some patients may experience slight sensitivity because of the highly concentrated gel used during in-office whitening, as well as mild gum or lip irritation at most. For the at home option, most patients don’t feel anything at all – although it may take a day or two to get used to wearing the whitening trays.
Are there any side effects?
Both forms of teeth whitening are very safe. The common side effects experienced are mild sensitivity and gum or lip irritation from the whitening gels, but this is always temporary and should subside within a few days.
Is there any after care required?
We advise avoiding or minimising smoking and eating or drinking foods which can cause staining such as red wine, coffee tea or curry within the first 48 hours.
Any tips for us to avoid future staining?
If you are a cigarette smoker it is best to quit smoking for other health reasons apart from discoloured teeth. Complete avoidance of all foods that stain teeth may be impractical for an everyday routine. Everything in moderation! A healthy, well balanced diet and brushing well is the best way to maintain healthy gums and teeth. Also, a thorough dental check up once every 6 months is paramount to ensuring continued dental health and keeping a healthy smile for life!
Would you recommend returning for a top up treatment?
Based on your lifestyle and diet, I’d say a top up treatment may be needed within 9 to 12 months. Thankfully, this is much quicker than the initial treatment and you can achieve results in days rather than weeks – it can even brighten your teeth more than your first visit!
Where to go to get your teeth whitened