What to expect during your tooth Tooth Whitening Treatment
Your dentist has given you a tooth whitening kit to take home with you together with your whitening trays. It is essential that you
follow the instructions given by your dentist in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations in wearing the trays and
applying the whitening agent.
How long should whitening take?
This depends on the amount of lightening that you desire and the original shade of the teeth. Most teeth will lighten sufficiently
within 5 to 7 days, however if your teeth are quite dark or very yellow/grey/tetracycline stained it will take longer to whiten them.
What do I do if I have sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is the most common side effect of home whitening; it is usually mild and transient. Sensitivity commonly occurs
around the necks of the teeth where the gums have receded or at the tips of worn teeth. Using toothpaste for sensitive teeth
during the month before whitening treatment is recommended. If you experience any sensitivity you should stop whitening and
contact your dentist. If your teeth become sensitive you can place a desensitizing gel into the trays for an hour after whitening,
this will usually stop the sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend pre-treatment with a desensitising agent if they are concerned
you are likely to suffer from sensitivity.
What happens if the teeth do not whiten evenly?
If the teeth have white spots on them before whitening, these spots will appear whiter during the first few days, however the
contrast between the spots and the rest of the tooth will lessen with continued whitening and eventually they will not be noticed.
You may see new lighter spots appearing on the teeth while you are undertaking the whitening process. These spots were already
present before whitening and have become more visible as the tooth has become lighter – do not worry – as the whole tooth
becomes lighter these spots will fade. You are more likely to notice these white spots immediately after a whitening session. Some
teeth may appear banded with lighter or darker areas; again this banding was originally present on the tooth. As the tooth becomes
whiter, the lighter parts will lighten first followed by the darker banded area. After a week or so these will no longer be noticeable.
Does whitening harm the teeth or gums?
Safety studies have shown that whitening teeth using the dentist prescribed home whitening technique is perfectly safe on the
teeth gums and tissues of the mouth.
There are problems with the home bleaching kits that can be purchased over the counter. Although they are inexpensive they
normally contain an acid which can damage the teeth or thin the enamel.
It is not advisable to whiten teeth if you smoke. It is best to stop smoking prior to commencing the procedure. Smoking causes
your teeth to darken and the effects will be diminished.
How long does the whitening last?
Normally the new whiter colour of your teeth keeps for quite a while. The effect is dependant on what has caused the teeth to
discolour in the first place. If you drink lots of coffee, red wine or cola drinks then the effect may darken slightly. Some patients
do a top up treatment after 1-2 years, others do not need to.
Is it for everyone?
The whitening technique is not for everyone. There are some situations where whitening the teeth is not recommended such as
where the front teeth are crowned or heavily filled and the patient doesn’t wish further treatment on these or where the teeth are
already excessively worn and there is tooth surface loss.
The most ideal situation is where there is not much wrong with your teeth except for the colour which has become yellow with
What about my smile?
If you have white fillings in the front teeth that match the existing shade of your teeth before treatment, they may not match the
teeth afterwards. This is because the technique lightens the teeth but cannot lighten fillings. When the desired colour has been
reached your dentist can replace these filling with a lighter shade of filling material to match the new shade of your teeth.
It is very rare, but sometimes the teeth do not lighten at all. If this happens and you have been wearing the trays as recommended,
you may need to try a different whitening product or a higher concentration.
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