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Professional teeth whitening 101
Bright, white, beautiful teeth: we all want them, but few of us actually own them. And this is a mighty shame, really, because all that’s standing in between you and a pair of pearly whites is a professional whitening treatment.
But what does a teeth whitening session in the dentist’s chair actually involve? We threw this question (and a handful of others) at Sydney cosmetic dentist Dr. Angelo Lazaris – an avid user of the Philips Zoom system – so you can decide if this wonderful whitening treatment is for you.
PROFESSIONAL TEETH WHITENING 101
What does professional teeth whitening actually involve?
“It usually includes a highly concentrated carbamide or hydrogen peroxide based gel being applied to the teeth. A barrier is applied to protect the gums, and the gel is removed and reapplied every 15 minutes. This is done up to four times in the one appointment, depending on the patient comfort and the whitening levels they wish to achieve. The treatment can be completed in one 90-minute appointment.”
What should a patient expect to feel post-treatment?
“The post-whitening effects do vary from patient to patient, however most people (around 80 per cent) can expect to experience some intermittent sensitivity for up to 24 hours after the procedure. People also often experience painful ‘zaps or zings’ of varying intensities that come and go.”
Do you have any tips for people who don't deal so well with pain?
“Taking a couple of anti-inflammatory tablets like Nurofen an hour or so before your appointment can really help, and if your dentist has happy gas at the practice definitely take up their offer of using this! It will really take the edge off the treatment session.”
Are the effects of a professional whitening treatment instant?
“The results of professional teeth whitening are instant and can be seen right away. However, the teeth do tend to get brighter in the first 48 hours after the procedure and take approximately a week for the shade to stabilise.”
How long does the whitening effect last?
“The longevity of professional teeth whitening is highly dependent on lifestyle factors, like whether you drink a lot of tea and coffee, red wine, and whether or not you’re a smoker. Avoiding these things will obviously help, but life does go on so I recommend my patients have a professional take-home kit so they can top up as needed to keep their teeth looking bright.”
When is the perfect time to undergo this treatment prior to a big event?
“Professionally whitened teeth generally look their best around two weeks after the treatment. When you first whiten your teeth, they become dehydrated and look a little chalky or even patchy. It takes a good week for that to settle down as the teeth rehydrate. At this point they’re also more susceptible to absorbing stains, so if you intend on having some pre-wedding or birthday celebrations (read: red wine), you could end up undoing all that good work.”
Is this treatment unsuitable for those with certain mouth-related issues?
“It is important that your teeth and gums are nice and healthy prior to undergoing professional teeth whitening. The presence of active gum disease, large cavities and build-up of calculus or tartar make professional whitening unsuitable for certain people.
Does professional teeth whitening cause any damage to your teeth?
“No. Clinical studies have shown that whitening your teeth with carbamide or hydrogen peroxide under the supervision of a dental professional is safe for teeth and gums and will not cause any damage to the tooth.”
Does professional teeth whitening work on caps, crowns and veneers?
“No, it will not work on crowns or veneers, which is why it is important to have your teeth whitened prior to any restorative work so that any large restoration can be matched to your teeth’s base shade.”
Do at-home whitening products work as well as a professional treatment?
“Definitely not. While a professional take-home kit does work, the results are not instant and can take up to two weeks of daily application to achieve the same result you would get in one 90-minute session in the dentist’s chair.”
Are professional teeth whitening treatments covered by health insurance?
“No, unfortunately teeth whitening procedures performed by dentists are not covered by heath funds in Australia.”
Have you ever had your teeth professionally whitened? Are you interesting in getting it done? What are your tips for achieving white teeth?