Teeth whitening is one of the more common cosmetic procedures that take place at your dentist’s clinic. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 32% of cosmetic visits to the dentist was for teeth whitening purposes.
It is amazing the confidence a great smile can give you, making you look younger, healthier and leaving more impactful first impressions. Thankfully nowadays in Malta, everyone can have a beaming smile at an affordable price.
There are various options when it comes to whitening your teeth, and the following article will help you decide on the course of action that suits you best.
We shall cover the following topics:
- Difference between teeth whitening and teeth bleaching
- The cause of tooth staining
- Tooth whitening options
- How long will the whitening effects last?
- When should you not whiten your teeth?
- Are there any risks associated with tooth whitening?
Is There A Difference Between Teeth Whitening & Teeth Bleaching?
When you go to a dentist for a tooth whitening procedure, it is, in fact, a tooth bleaching treatment. Teeth whitening refers mainly to products you buy over the counter like toothpaste and mouthwashes that help restore your teeth to their natural colour.
Teeth bleaching is where chemical agents (such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) are used to whiten teeth beyond their natural colour. In the EU products containing or releasing up to a maximum of 6% hydrogen peroxide are used, subject to certain conditions, one of which is it must be used under the supervision of a dental practitioner.
Even though the correct term to use is bleaching when it comes to this common procedure, the dental industry continues to use the term “whitening” as it is more descriptive of the final results achieved.
What Causes Tooth Staining?
Unfortunately, another drawback of ageing is the discolouration of your teeth. Therefore, if you are older, you may be required to have multiple treatments or sessions to remove years of built up stubborn stains.
The Natural Colour Of Your Teeth
Your teeth have a default interior colour that you are born with, and these colours range from dark yellow to greenish grey. Again with age, these colours will be more pronounced over time.
What You Eat
Deeply coloured foods like coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, red wine, and certain fruit juices can affect the colour of your teeth. Also, certain acidic foods like vinegar and citrus fruits can erode your enamel and display more of the yellow tinted dentin which is situated directly underneath the enamel.
Nicotine in cigarettes causes stains on your teeth by leaving brownish deposits. Frequent smoking over many years leaves very stubborn stains which are hard (but thankfully, not impossible) to remove.
Certain drugs such as tetracycline produce grey or brown stains which can also be difficult to remove. Tetracycline is a popular antibiotic which is commonly used to combat severe cases of acne.
Grinding or Trauma
Both tooth grinding and trauma can cause cracks in your teeth which allow debris to stick and stain resulting in the damaged parts darkening in colour.
Extrinsic V Intrinsic Stains
Not all stains are equal and can be divided into two groups; extrinsic & intrinsic.
Extrinsic stains are teeth blemishes that occur on the external part of your teeth and mainly caused by what you eat, drink and smoke. Slight extrinsic stains can be removed during tooth cleaning and polishing as part of your regular dental check up, but more stubborn stains will require teeth bleaching.
Intrinsic stains are discolourations that appear on the tooth’s interior caused by age, trauma, drugs and certain chemicals (such as excessive use of fluoride). Heavily embedded intrinsic stains are difficult to remove, and your dentist will advise on the best options to treat these stubborn stains.
Tooth Whitening Malta Options Currently Available
These can be bought over the counter and contain particular polishing or chemicals that can remove top level stains. These products do not contain any bleaching agents and can improve your teeth colouring by one shade as opposed to up to 8 shades using a dentist supervised teeth whitening procedure.
Whitening Strips & Gels
These can contain a bleaching agent but only concentrations of up to 0.01 per cent hydrogen peroxide compared to the 6% your dentist can administer during a supervised dental visit. The results are slightly better than whitening toothpaste but possible side effects if overused and unsupervised.
These mouthwashes also contain low levels of hydrogen peroxide and involve rinsing your teeth twice a day for 1 minute at a time. It may take 12 weeks to notice an effect therefore not the most effective treatment for quick results. Again overuse can lead to unwanted side effects, especially if your teeth were not in a healthy state to begin with.
Tray-based tooth whiteners
There are two types which can be used, over the counter or from a dentist.
Over The Counter
In line with the other options, the over the counter tray-based solution is not as efficient because of the much lower amount of bleaching agent involved. Not only that, but they usually use a one size fits all tray which is not effective as a custom made tray which a dentist can provide.
Custom made moulded trays are much more useful as it allows the bleach to surround all areas of the tooth in a uniform and consistent fashion. You must wear a tray for a certain amount of time, ranging from a few hours a day to overnight while you sleep. The trays can be worn for many weeks or even longer depending on the stubbornness of the stains or the level of whiteness desired. A dentist supervised tray-based tooth whitener is the safest way to proceed as the dentist also checks your teeth beforehand to see if they are healthy and capable of receiving whitening treatment, reducing the risk of any adverse side effects.
If you want to see whitening results quickly, then the only certain option is in-office whitening at your dentist’s clinic. The dentist applies a whitening product directly to your teeth and then activates the whitening causing chemical by heating it using a special light, lamp or laser.
Dramatic results can be seen within one 30 to 60-minute session.
At Savina Dental Clinics, we offer three types of In-Office Tooth Whitening (Bleaching) systems to suit everyone’s custom requirements, dental condition and budget.
- Flaesh Whitening
- Zoom!® (90 minutes tooth whitening)
- Zolartech Lazer Whitening (45 minute tooth whitening)
All whitening products are safe and formulated to prevent sensitivity.
For full details and prices of all our tooth whitening products and services in Malta, please contact us today to request a copy of our tooth whitening fact sheet.
Overall, in-office whitening is the most expensive treatment but also the most effective.
How Long Do Whitening Effects Last?
Teeth whitening effects can last up to three years. However, this may vary from person to person. If of course, you partake in activities which are known to stain teeth, like the ones mentioned earlier, your whitening effect will last a lot shorter.
When consulting your dentist about a teeth whitening procedure, they will inform you the likely lasting time after careful pre-examination of your teeth and by discussing your current lifestyle choices.
When should you not whiten your teeth?
- People under the age of 16 are not recommended to whiten their teeth due to enlarged nerves up until this age
- Pregnant or lactating women are also advised not to proceed with this procedure
- People allergic to the bleaching agent peroxide cannot have this procedure
- If you have dental issues such as exposed roots, cavities, worn enamel or gum disease, you are also discouraged from using this treatment. Cavities need to be treated before whitening as the bleaching agent can penetrate into the existing tooth decay and cause hypersensitivity. Your exposed roots cannot be treated due to lack of enamel coating.
- Restoration dental work such as crowns, bondings, bridges and veneers also cannot be whitened.
People who have a lot of restoration work and are unhappy with the whiteness of their teeth will have to explore other options such as veneers to achieve their desired look.
Are there any risks associated with tooth whitening?
The risks are minimal under the supervision of a qualified dental practitioner.
The most common side effect of tooth whitening is some tooth sensitivity. This side effect may occur if the bleaching agent in the whitening product penetrates the enamel through to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth.
In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. Your tooth sensitivity can also be lessened by using special toothpaste or products to reduce sensitivity.
Are You Looking For Teeth Whitening In Malta?
Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.
If you would like more details and prices of all our tooth whitening products and services, please contact us to request a copy of our tooth whitening fact sheet.
Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics