Tooth Whitening FAQ’s

Is any preparation necessary? Have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dental therapist or hygienist. Patients who have a visit with the hygienist or therapist for professional tooth cleaning are most satisfied with the results of their tooth whitening. It makes sense, teeth that are spotlessly clean enable to gel to come into contact with all tooth surfaces for whitening. If you smoke now is a great time to stop! Ask your Dentist or Doctor for advice, or call the NHS free smoking helpline on 0800 022 4 332. Start using a sensitive type toothpaste like Sensodyne, this helps minimise tooth sensitivity

How many visits? Usually 4 visits are necessary as follows:

Visit 1 – a dental assessment, impressions, shade recording and ‘before’ photographs!

Visit 2 – fitting the gum shields and demonstrating how to apply the gel

Visit 3 & 4 – review appointment and supervision over 2 to 4 weeks until you reach your new tooth shade, then ‘after’ photographs!

What is a natural tooth colour? Teeth are naturally a shade of yellow, it is a normal age change for our teeth to become more yellow/orange and stained over time.

Each individuals teeth will gain more colour at different rates, due to for example their dietary habits (tea, coffee, red wine, curry), a smoking habit. Similarly each person’s teeth will whiten at slightly different rates.

What type of teeth respond well to treatment? Teeth that have a lot of colour (yellow/orange) and low translucency whiten very well.

Can you skip a few days I am going on holiday? Home whitening is a very flexible technique and it does not matter if you skip a day or two, the result is exactly the same, it will just take a little longer to complete. The results will be the same.

What happens when the treatment is complete? Once you have reached a whiter, more youthful shade the procedure is complete and you simply discontinue the treatment. The whitening results are under your control, many people just prefer a subtle ‘lift’ in the appearance of their smile. When you reach the result you want you simply discontinue the procedure and return to see the dentist. Some patients want to make their teeth as white as possible to make and may choose to apply additional gel for another 2 weeks. In our experience most patients reach a stage where more treatment will not make any change in shade after about 2 to 4 weeks.

I have crown on my front tooth – can I still have tooth whitening? If you have a porcelain crown, a veneer or tooth coloured repair visible in your smile before tooth whitening it may stand out afterwards because these materials are colourfast and do not bleach and change shade.

This may put an additional financial burden on patients who may then need more dentistry after tooth whitening and we are sure to identify this before treatment commences.

My crowns are whiter than my natural teeth – can I have tooth whitening? Interestingly, the situation does arise where crowns made over 10 years earlier are great condition and don’t need to be replaced but the natural teeth have now become darker in shade. In this instance the natural teeth can be bleached back to the shade of the porcelain crowns and the crowns remain in service for many more years, extending their life and saving the patient a lot of dental fees.

Can very dark or ‘banded’ teeth be tooth whitened? If your teeth are very stained with yellow/grey bands it will take longer to whiten your teeth. Treatment is exactly the same as the Home Whitening Technique except it is extended over 6 to 9 months. This is very successful. It is also testimony to how safe the home whitening technique really is.

To undergo this treatment you will need to attend on a monthly basis and purchase gel until the treatment is complete. Sometimes very dark teeth require porcelain veneers in addition to tooth whitening. However, the benefit of tooth whitening first is that fewer teeth may require veneers and those veneers can be thinner, requiring much less tooth preparation because the veneers no longer need to disguise extremely dark teeth.

What is baseline bleaching? Before preparing teeth for veneers and crowns which are colourfast (you can’t change their shade after they have been made) it is a good idea to enquire if patients what to achieve a more youthful baseline tooth shade at the start of treatment. Tooth whitening I carried out, once a new baseline shade is established and this has settled over a period of two weeks new tooth coloured fillings, porcelain veneers and crowns can be made to match the new whiter shade.

What do I do if I have sensitive teeth? Tooth sensitivity to cold is the most common side effect of home whitening. In fact, many patients suffer from sensitive teeth any way. Sensitivity is usually short-lived and resolves after a few days. We recommend that you use Sensodyne toothpaste to clean your teeth for a few weeks before, during and after tooth whitening treatment. Always discontinue treatment and contact your dentist immediately in the unlikely event that you experience any problems. There are lots of ways to overcome sensitivity, for example apply the gel to your teeth every other day.

What happens if my teeth do not bleach evenly?

White spots – any white flecks in teeth before bleaching will appear whiter during the first few days of tooth whitening. Do not worry because as the surrounding tooth tissue becomes lighter these areas will fade. If the flecks stood out at the end of treatment there is other treatment to change their appearance e.g. tooth coloured repairs.

Yellow/orange roots – if teeth have gum recession and the roots are exposed these often have more colour. The root area is not made of enamel and does not tooth whiten. The roots will remain the same colour but the natural crowns will become frosty white.

How will my teeth feel? Your teeth and fillings will feel very clean after the tooth whitening procedure. The bleaching materials also have an indirect healing effect on the gums. In fact this whitening technique was invented by accident when an orthodontist was trying to heal gum irritation during orthodontic treatment with fixed braces. He noticed his patients teeth where becoming whiter too!

How will it change my smile?
Your teeth will appear brighter and develop a frosty whiteness. This is a prerequisite for a youthful and attractive smile. For a natural appearance your teeth should be a similar shade to the whites of your eyes.

What about my white fillings, porcelain veneers & crowns? White fillings and porcelain veneers and crowns are ‘colourfast’. The tooth whitening gel will cleanse them but their colour will remain the same. Old repairs at the front of your mouth that match your original tooth colour will not match your frosty white teeth after treatment.

Dentists recommend waiting 2-weeks after the completion of tooth whitening before replacing restorations to match your new shade. It is important that you are fully aware of the cost of any restorative dental treatment that may be necessary so it is not an unanticipated financial burden.

Can everyone use tooth whitening? If you have great dental health then the chances are you would be suitable for tooth whitening. The ideal situation is where your teeth are healthy except for the colour, which has become more yellow/orange over time.

To arrange a consultation please call Hannah or Peter on 0151 423 1601
More questions? Email your questions or details to us via the contact form