Teeth whitening is one of our more popular and non-invasive aesthetic treatment choices. The process involves the application of dentist prescribed formulations of Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide peroxide. These are strong oxidisers and the formulations contain concentrations of the whitening agent that cannot be bought over the counter or from retail stores. Thus, dentist prescribed concentrations are more effective and more efficient.
Dental stains are broadly categorised into extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration. This is based on whether the discoloration occurs on the surface or from within the tooth respectively. Extrinsic stains include deposits from smoking, eating and drinking. These deposits are called chromogenic particles and can be exacerbated by dry mouth, medical conditions, medication and poor oral hygiene.
On the other hand, Intrinsic discoloration occurs when the cause of the color change occurs from within the tooth. Ideally the tooth is covered by enamel which masks the underlying yellow color of the dentine. As we age and also due to enamel wear, the enamel thins out and will allow the underlying dentine to show through. In addition to that, as we age the dentine thickness can increase from within the pulp, this added thickness can create a darker looking tooth.
The whitening procedure involves the professionally determined placement of the whitening gel onto the surface of your teeth. In the concentrations the dentist uses, irritation to soft tissues and teeth sensitivity can occur, so it is important for a dentist to protect the soft tissues. This is done using a liquid dam or barrier for the chairside applications and in the case of a do- it-yourself kit, the trays must be properly modelled to minimise the spill over onto the gums
For the Opalescence take home kits, a mould is taken of your teeth. This can be done with an impression or a digital scan. From the mold of the teeth, a stent is fabricated that has a reservoir over the teeth to hold the gel and it is trimmed to allow excess gel to be removed to minimise gingival irritation. The gel is applied once or twice a day until the aesthetic result is achieved. This typically takes 5 to 14 days. In several cases of discoloration the treatment time can be longer. Please note that all whitening procedures require some degree of maintenance.
For patients who do not want to spend the time doing the whitening themselves at home, patients can opt for a chairside treatment. A chairside treatment is when the dentist applies higher concentration of gel to the teeth to achieve the whitening effect in a single 90 minute session. The dentist will protect the lips, cheeks and gums before placing hydrogen peroxide gel to the teeth. The gel is activated by a specific range of wavelengths in blue light emitted from an ARC. At intervals of 15 minutes gel is replaced and replenished. The treatment is completed after four 15 minute cycles.
Teeth naturally darken as you age and whitened teeth can reduce the appearance in age. The do-it-yourself treatment offers the added ingredient of Fluoride so that the treatment with the whitening gel also helps reduce cavities and tooth decay concurrent to the aesthetic treatment.
The Opalescence do-it-yourself kit at Dental Essence is priced at $590.00 and the ZOOM chairside treatment is priced at $1350.00.