How effective is teeth whitening, and is it safe?

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If you have discoloured teeth and are considering teeth whitening treatment, you should consult your dentist first. Your dentist will give you a full dental examination and advise you on whether you should get the whitening done professionally or do it yourself at home, and what products to use.

“Prior consultation and examination with the dentist is vital. A thorough oral examination is crucial to determine the cause of tooth discolouration and discuss the various options of treatment with the patient,” stresses the Singapore Dental Association.

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Whitening can be achieved with a hydrogen peroxide-containing bleaching product that removes intrinsic as well as surface stains, or a non-bleaching product that removes surface stains only.

Whitening products can be administered at a dental clinic, prescribed by dentists for home-use, or purchased over-the-counter. Professional whitening at a dental clinic involves the use of a laser. Teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity and tissue irritation, which usually disappear upon completion of treatment.

 

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How effective is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening doesn’t have a perfect outcome and neither is it permanent. Its effects can last anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on your diet and lifestyle and oral hygiene. If you smoke and consume red wine, tea and coffee that stain your teeth, and don’t brush and floss as recommended, the whitening effects may start to fade in a month.

Is teeth whitening safe?

Teeth whitening is perfectly safe if it is carried out by a registered dental professional who is legally permitted to use products containing hydrogen peroxide concentrations of 6 per cent and above. Over-the-counter non-prescription whitening products are permitted up to 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide.

“In untrained hands, the relatively safe bleaching procedure can cause potentially significant damage to the teeth,” says SDA.

If teeth whitening is not done properly or spurious products are used, you can suffer negative consequences such as uneven whitening or damage to the tooth enamel.

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