12 May Teeth Whitening: Everything You Should Know in the Okanagan
Our teeth don’t always get along with our idea of what they should look like. Colour can change over the years, and as they shift from a natural, porcelain white tone, towards a grey or yellow hue, many people (surveys suggest up to 90%) will turn to their dentists to return their teeth to the original shade. Unfortunately, dentists are not magicians, and the power of whitening only extends so far. While you can try to reduce your consumption of products that create surface stains, you cannot change the tone of your dentin (the layer below the enamel). Suffice it to say that greyer hues are challenging, if not impossible to remove, while yellow hues are more likely to respond to bleaching treatments. Teeth whitening works by applying a bleach substance, peroxide, to your teeth. This removes the discolouration caused by surface stains by breaking the stains into smaller pieces.
What Causes the Discolouration of Teeth?
There are many factors that can lend themselves to less than ideal tooth colour. Tobacco products of all types will lead to discolouration; tar is naturally dark and nicotine turns to a yellowish tone when mixed with oxygen. Coffee, tea, and red wine are among the most frequent staining culprits. By attaching their intense colours to the exterior of your tooth, over time these drinks will contribute to a lessening of your bright whites – bad news in the Okanagan with our burgeoning wine industry, maybe swap out for a glass of white next time? Lastly, your enamel decreases with age, which means over time that beautiful white sheen of your youth will start to lose out to the dentin layer behind it, which is greyer in tone. This cannot be totally resolved with bleach, so maintaining your enamel through regular dentist visits is your safest bet to avoid the grey dentin looming behind it. By bleaching your teeth, you are breaking up these colours that hover on the outer layer of your teeth.
I’m Ready to Whiten my Teeth at True Dental of West Kelowna, What’s Next?
Our process makes use of custom teeth molds that you take home and use either during the day, or the night, it is up to you! The first step is to book an appointment wherein we will take a mold of your teeth to make a tray that will fit your teeth to a T. This is important, as the peroxide concentration is high in these treatments and we don’t want this to reach your gums or lips where it could burn. Next, we send you home to wear these custom trays for a short period. This applies the bleaching chemical to your teeth for a controlled period, and you will see the difference before your eyes. There is no strict limit to these treatments, but we are cautious to avoid sensitivity caused by the teeth whitening process. Sensitivity comes from the peroxide penetrating the enamel to the dentin, irritating the nerve. This is benign and will go away over time. After a treatment, your teeth are susceptible to increased staining from the pores that open up, so be sure to avoid foods, drinks, and substances that lead to staining for the bleaching period, as well as the next day after your treatment. If you’re craving a treat, read our guide to Dentist approved Summer treats! If you are experiencing sensitivity post-bleaching, consider booking a fluoride treatment to help boost your enamel, or try Sensodyne toothpaste which is specially made with sensitive teeth in mind.
For more information from the Canadian Dental Association, see here.