How You Can Brighten Your Smile with Whiter Teeth
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.
UNDERSTAND THE CONDITION OF YOUR TEETH
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.
LEARN HOW TEETH WHITENING WORKS
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.
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
If you are looking to whiten your teeth, you can request from your dentist either of the following:
- A take-home whitening kit
Each kit includes an upper and lower custom-made transparent tray which is moulded according to your unique teeth alignment, as well as the whitening gel.
- In-house whitening
This is a chair-side procedure which takes 1 hour to complete. Both procedures will not cause damage or soften the top enamel layer, thereby ensuring that your teeth are protected. The procedures are safe, simple and fast, and results can be seen almost instantly.
PREPARE FOR THE PROCEDURE
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.
- It is common to experience tooth sensitivity immediately after the treatment; the level of sensitivity varies between individuals. Patients are advised to use toothpaste for sensitive teeth for approximately 1-2 weeks post-treatment.
- Patients are also advised to avoid drinking hot or cold drinks and food which may stain the teeth – for instance, curry, wine, coffee or tea, for at least the first 24-48 hours.
- Some individuals who experience high levels of tooth sensitivity may require analgesics or painkillers which typically last for 24-48 hours.
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.
Interested in NTUC Health Denticare’s teeth whitening services? Call 6336 6222 to make an appointment today!
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.