Published on 03 May 2021
From home whitening kits to dental clinics in the neighbourhood, how do we know if we are making the right choice without risking damage to the enamel of our teeth? Here’s what dental practitioner Dr Sandra Chan from NTUC Health Denticare says.
Other than simply wanting to look good with a beautiful smile during important events, many people choose teeth whitening as a way to get rid of stubborn stains. Aside from the frequent consumption of coffee and tea, stains can also be caused by tobacco and even certain medications.
Tooth stains are classified into 2 categories: Extrinsic and Intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are the stubborn stains that appear on the surface of enamel (i.e. the top layer of your teeth), while intrinsic stains are found in between micro-cracks and fine lines deep within the enamel and dentin (i.e. the layer underneath the enamel).
There are plenty of beauty parlours and over-the-counter teeth whitening products that offer cheaper alternatives than that done by dentists, but it is important that users understand the ingredients and their concentrations in these products. Your dentist should be able to prescribe whitening products with a suitable active ingredient concentration based on your condition.
The active ingredient, carbamide/hydrogen peroxide, penetrates the enamel layer into the discoloured molecules or stains. Oxygen molecules in the whitening products react with the discoloured molecules inside the teeth, disintegrating the bonds that hold them together. The oxygen molecules separate and spread, which then whitens the entire tooth.
If you are looking to whiten your teeth, you can request from your dentist either of the following:
Consult with a dentist for a thorough examination to make sure teeth and gum tissues are free of cavities and gum problems. It is best to have your teeth scaled and polished before the teeth whitening procedure. For patients with known sensitive teeth or low pain tolerance, pain relievers can be consumed before treatment starts.
Simply sit back and relax for the period of time advised by your dentist! During treatment, some individuals may experience discomfort according to the degree of sensitivity.
Results of teeth whitening vary among individuals. In general, maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding foods that cause stains will enable the results to last longer.
A young and active individual, Dr Sandra Chan enjoys swimming and pilates. When she is not busy seeing patients in NTUC Health Denticare (Serangoon Central and Toa Payoh), she spends her leisure time with her family and friends, seeking out good food places in Singapore.
Quitting smoking benefits your oral health in many ways. Start your journey to better oral health with NTUC Health Denticare.
Patient Service Assistant Chan Siew Eng has built a loyal following of patients at NTUC Health Denticare for the past 25 years. Read her story.
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