How many times have you glanced at someone’s smile and thought of having that bright white smile? We all get a bit of tooth-envy every now and then, but did you know it’s easier than you think to have your own set of pearly whites. Cosmetic dental surgeon, Dr Kshama Chandan states that tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. In a candid conversation, Dr Chandan reveals it all about teeth whitening, how to get it done, the do’s and dont’s after the process and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Q: Should a professional teeth cleaning be done before undergoing teeth whitening treatment?
A: Absolutely! To give you an example, lets put it this way. Would you apply fake tan to your skin if it was covered in mud or dirt? Of course not – who wants blotchy, unattractive tan lines? It’s the same with your teeth. Professional teeth cleaning will remove all the debris and tartar and prepare your teeth to receive maximum brightness from teeth whitening.
Q: How does teeth whitening work?
A: Teeth whitening materials use an active ingredient (either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) which penetrates the enamel. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter, thus whitening the entire structure of the tooth.
Q: How white will the teeth get?
A: I get asked this question very often. The truth is, everybody’s teeth whiten differently, and it really comes down to which process works best for you. It also depends on a person’s lifestyle and how much time they have. Teeth whitening is like sun tanning. Some people simply step out into the sun and turn golden brown, similarly some people have teeth that become super-bright really quickly. For others, their teeth may take longer to brighten or may not brighten to the same extent. I know that 95% of people have teeth that will change colour, but there’s no way anyone can predict how bright your teeth will be after treatment. However, on average, the teeth get 4/5 shades whiter than your original shade.
Q: Who shouldn’t whiten their teeth?
A: If anyone has gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis, or severe gums recessions and/or severe sensitivity; I wouldn’t recommend whitening. Those with decayed teeth should also get their fillings done before getting their teeth professionally whitened. It’s also important to keep in mind that whitening only works on natural teeth. Teeth with veneers, crowns, bridges or even dentures cannot be whitened.
Q: Is gum irritation normal?
A: Yes absolutely, as if too much gel is applied it can spread to the gums and temporarily bleach them. Although it can be scary to see white patches on the gums, there’s no need to worry. It will totally reverse itself within a few hours, leaving no gum damage at all.
Q: How long does teeth whitening last?
A: The length of time teeth whitening lasts depends on your lifestyle habits - eating or drinking certain foods such as red wine, coffee and berries can impact the results as these can stain teeth. Habits such as smoking can also dramatically change the colour of your teeth. Generally, professional whitening should last anywhere from six to 12 months on average, or in some cases even longer.
Q: How do you manage sensitivity after teeth whitening?
A: Mild sensitivity of the teeth is expected but it lasts for no longer than 48 hours. After your treatment, use a prescribed toothpaste or gel specifically designed to cope with sensitivity. In most cases, this sensitivity is only temporary, and you can switch back to your regular toothpaste after this period. While brushing your teeth, be gentle. Use a soft-bristled brush and lukewarm water instead of cold to rinse your mouth. For a couple of days after your treatment, you might find it easier to drink through a straw as this allows the liquid to bypass your teeth, providing some relief from the sensitivity.
Q: What are the set of instructions to be followed after teeth whitening?
A: For the following 24 hours after treatment you must:
• Avoid any dark staining drinks like Tea, Coffee, Red Wine, coloured soft or alcoholic drinks and fruit juice.
• Avoid all dark staining foods like soya sauce, tomato ketchup, red curries, red meat, chocolate and all fruit except bananas.
• Avoid any foods or drinks that would leave a stain on your whitened teeth. In other words, you need to take care of your teeth the same way take care of your new white shirt from stains.
• Do not smoke for atleast 24 hours.
Dr Kshama Chandan's deep knowledge, passion and talent have helped her patients to get the perfect smile with all the latest techniques. She has pursued her Masters in Advanced Prosthodontics and runs her private practice at The DentalWorx in Lokhandwala and Santacruz (West) in Mumbai. You can also check out her Instagram page, '@kshama3091' to know more about the dental surgeon.