Your smile is often the first thing people notice when they meet you A brighter smile can often give the impression of youth, warmth and health. A whiter, brighter smile can often be considered a healthy smile. Causes of Tooth Discolouration Tooth discolouration may happen for a number of reasons. As we get older, the enamel on our teeth can begin to wear away and reveal the darker tissue, or dentin below. Many outside factors can also contribute to tooth discolouration such as smoking, certain medications and acidic food and drinks such as coffee, tea, wine and soft drink. Types of Teeth Whitening There are a number of ways to whiten your teeth. However, the most common and effective treatments are either in-office or professional grade at-home whitening. In-office bleaching. In-office teeth whitening can be done in our Torquay practice in just one session. A protective gel is applied to your gums or a rubber shield is applied to protect the soft tissues. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth and a special light is applied to start the whitening process. At-home bleaching. At-home whitening includes custom made trays, with a whitening agent added. The whitening agent contains hydrogen or carbamide peroxide bleach and as the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter. Whitening usually takes two weeks and the trays are worn for various periods, which may be as little as 30 mins to overnight depending on the type of gel supplied. At-home whitening is very safe and effective. If you have any questions about the treatment, don’t hesitate to contact our team. How long will my teeth stay whiter? Tooth whitening may differ for each person, however, they can generally last for one or more years. This will depend on how well you take care of your teeth and whether you are following up with an at-home product as well. What are the side effects? Some people might find that their teeth are sensitive after the teeth whitening treatment and other may feel discomfort in the gums and throat. Symptoms are generally temporary and will disappear within a short period of time. If you have any concerns, you should contact the team at Surf Coast Dental as soon as possible. How can I look after my teeth once they have been whitened You can help to keep your teeth white by cutting down on the amount of food and drinks you have that can stain teeth. Don’t forget, stopping smoking can also help prevent discolouration and staining. We recommend the following tips to take care of your teeth: brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks Visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend. Teeth Whitening FAQs Can teeth whitening damage my teeth? Many people wonder if teeth whitening is safe or not since it does involves using chemicals to change the appearance of your teeth. However, there has been no evidence that teeth whitening is harmful and it does not damage the enamel of one’s teeth nor does it make teeth softer or more brittle. Teeth whitening involves bleaching as well, which will cause increased sensitivity for some, but this effect is only temporary and does not last too long. Is it better to whiten my teeth at home or at a dentist? At-home teeth whiteners consist of various products such as whitening toothpaste, gel strips and trays which you fill with a gel-like substance and place over your teeth. Some of these treatments may need a few applications to gain the desired results. In-office procedures may take more time but, with the supervision of a professional, can use stronger products for optimum teeth whitening results in just one session. If your teeth are in perfect condition but you desire a whiter, brighter smile, the in-home treatments could be your best bet. But a professional whitening is recommended for more desirable results. How do I keep my teeth from staining after my appointment? Here are some helpful tips for keeping your teeth bright and white for 24 hours after your appointment: Avoid drinks that can stain your teeth such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, red wine and so on. Sipping a drink through a straw is good as the liquid bypasses the teeth completely. Avoid food that can stain your teeth like red meat, soy sauce, chocolate and majority of fruit. Do not smoke for the next 24 hours as this will cause stains. Consuming food and drink that is clear and will not leave a stain on anything is advisable, such as white wine, clear alcoholic beverages, chicken or turkey, pastas with white sauce and so on. Don’t forget to share this via Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.