Reasons for Tooth Discolouration
- Wearing down of enamel caused by acidic foods, abrasives, hard brushing. It is normal for your tooth enamel to thin over time.
- Staining from consuming certain foods such as coffee, red wine, tea, dark-coloured produce and from using tobacco products.
Professional Teeth Whitening vs. At-Home
At-home teeth whitening products are popular because they are inexpensive and convenient. At-home whiteners are not nearly as effective or lasting as professional whitening, but they can be useful if you want something easy and don’t need it to be long-lasting. Generally speaking, if you are looking to improve the brightness of your smile, we recommend going to a professional for a whitening treatment.
Examples of At-Home Whiteners
- Whitening strips
- Whitening toothpaste
- Whitening mouthwash
- Whitening chewing gum
- Over-the-counter bleaching trays
Examples of Professional Whiteners
- Dental bleaching trays
- Laser whitening
Different Types of Whitening Procedures
If you are considering a professional teeth-whitening procedure of any kind, it is important to first go in for a consultation with your dentist to determine what is causing your tooth discolouration and whether your oral health is good enough to undergo a professional whitening. There is no one best teeth whitening technique—the whitening method you choose ultimately comes down to your personal preferences, your oral health, and your budget. Here is some information on popular whitening options.
Surface whiteners come in the form of over-the-counter, at-home products like toothpaste, whitening strips, and chewing gum. These products contain abrasives that work to remove stains from the surface of teeth. Surface whiteners are effective at whitening teeth (though not nearly as effective as professional whitening) but they also wear down tooth enamel which can lead to discolouration and sensitivity later.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Gel
You can buy over-the-counter whitening gel kits which are a convenient at-home option. The kits come with plastic tooth trays and whitening gel, which you put into the trays and then wear the trays on your teeth for a set amount of time.
These slim plastic “pens” filled with a bleaching gel are a quick, convenient way to whiten teeth on the go using an over-the-counter method. The pen is filled with a whitening gel that can be applied to the teeth using the pen’s tip in a brushing motion. Leave the gel on for the amount of time specified in the instructions, usually around 30 minutes, and then rinse it off. Repeat 1-2 times per day as directed.
Teeth Bleaching and Laser Teeth Whitening
You can have professional dental bleaching done at your dentist’s office or you can get over-the-counter teeth bleaching products to use at home. In-office bleaching is much more effective and faster acting than over-the-counter products, but both are effective at brightening your teeth, so in the end it is a matter of preference and personal needs.
Certain types of discolouration will not respond to teeth bleaching, such as those caused by “dead” teeth or certain medications. Before using peroxide-based dental whitening products, consult your dentist to determine what the cause of your staining is and whether bleaching is likely to be effective for you.
In-office dental bleaching is a good option if you are looking for instant teeth whitening. After about an hour-long procedure, you will see a marked difference in the colour of your teeth. In-office bleaching can be more costly than other whitening procedures, but because it is so convenient, fast, and offers immediate results, many people choose this option.
For patients with more sensitive teeth, take-home whitening trays are usually recommended. This method has a lower concentration of bleach and is less likely to cause any sensitivity or irritation to the teeth and gums. Your dentist will take casts of your teeth to make customized whitening trays and send you home with a whitening gel to use with the trays along with instructions on how to use them.
If you choose to get dental bleaching done in-office, first your dentist will clean your teeth to remove plaque buildup. Next, a bleaching gel is applied to the teeth, which are then exposed to a laser. The laser activates oxygen in the whitening gel, which works to lift stains from the teeth and change the colour of your tooth enamel. Laser whitening will give you immediate results, so if you are looking for an instantly brighter, whiter smile, this is likely the best teeth whitening system for you.
At Tsawwassen Family Dental, we want you to feel confident enough to smile all the time, which is why we provide expert teeth-whitening services. If you’re interested in whitening your teeth, come in for a consultation with one of our dentists to determine the best option for you.