Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic treatment for adults of all ages who want to remove stains from their teeth and brighten their smiles.
However, as with any cosmetic treatment, it's important to know what the possible risks are before you decide whether whitening is right for you – and how to lower these risks.
Read this quick guide to find out the right way to whiten teeth.
Does whitening need to be done by a dentist?
Many dental clinics offer two types of teeth whitening treatments:
1. In-chair whitening performed by a professional dentist, often completed in a single visit.
2. At-home whitening under the guidance of your dentist, usually completed in around 2 weeks.
If you prefer to whiten your teeth in the comfort of your home, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) still advises having a consultation with your dentist first. Your dentist can advise you about the correct way to use whitening kits to avoid problems. They may also provide you with a custom whitening kit including custom-fitted trays and bleaching gel formulated to help you get the results you want.
The ADA cautions against having your teeth whitened by beauticians, hairdressers or other non-professionals who are not qualified to provide these treatments. Your dentist can help you to set realistic expectations of what to expect and will make sure you understand the possible risks before you decide to go ahead with any treatment.
What are the risks of teeth whitening?
If bleaching trays don't fit over your teeth properly or the bleaching agent contacts your gums, this can cause chemical burns or other damage to the soft tissues in your mouth. Whitening treatments not supervised by a dentist may also produce uneven or disappointing results.
The risks of teeth whitening are lower when treatments are performed by or under the supervision of a professional dentist. However, some people find that their teeth feel more sensitive to hot and cold food and drink for up to 48 hours after a treatment. If you have other unexpected side-effects, contact your dentist to make an emergency appointment.
What are the alternatives?
Not everyone is suitable for whitening treatments, or you may decide that you prefer a different treatment. Your dentist will explain all the options they offer for brightening teeth and their respective pros and cons.
Another option for whitening and making other cosmetic changes to teeth is dental veneers. These are thin shells made or porcelain or composite resin that are bonded to the front of the teeth after a thin layer of enamel is removed. A veneers treatment permanently alters the shape of the teeth and may cause them to feel more sensitive afterwards.
You can also help to keep your teeth free from discolouring plaque and tartar by maintaining good oral hygiene every day and keeping up with your regular dental visits for professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist can advise you about food and drink to avoid if you want to prevent stains and to help your teeth whitening treatment last for longer.
Find out more about teeth whitening in Brisbane
Talk to our dentists in Everton Park or Mitchelton to find out more about the cosmetic treatments we offer and to ask us any questions you have.
Australian Dental Association. Teeth Whitening: Getting the best result for your smile [Online] 2016 [Accessed December 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/getattachment/Your-Dental-Health/Resources-for-Professionals/Resources-for-Teens-12-17/Teeth-whitening-the-best-result-for-your-smile/Teeth-whitening,-getting-the-best-result-for-your-smile.pdf.aspx