Creating brighter smiles as we embrace the new normal!

Tooth whitening is experiencing a surge in popularity. Today we are more image-conscious than ever, and are aware that a great smile can transform the way we look in a truly authentic way.

The iSmile Studio team has the experience and tools to brighten and rejuvenate your smile.

The correct approach delivered with expert dental supervision offers a simple, reliable and cost effective means of helping people feel good about themselves.

The shift towards home working has seen us spend more time than ever looking at ourselves on the screen. Our virtual meetings have not only allowed us to continue to connect with others, but also to self reflect. Thank you Zoom! This heightened awareness of how we look ha undoubtedly caused many of us to seek out ways to improve our image.

While general dentistry has traditionally focused on good mouth function, and the prevention and treatment of oral diseases, examples of ‘aesthetically-driven’ or ‘cosmetic’ dentistry such as tooth whitening are becoming just as integral.

Tooth whitening is typically the first step in any cosmetic dental makeover. It can offer an immediate or gradual improvement. When properly maintained, long-lasting results are achieved, meaning you’ll feel free to talk, laugh and smile with confidence and without constraint.

Interestingly, the demand for whiter teeth is not simply the result of our modern, appearance-focused Instagram-culture. In fact, the desire for a dazzling white smile is far from a new phenomenon …

A bit of history …

For centuries people have used whatever tools they had available to improve the appearance of their teeth and smile.

Let’s take the ancient Egyptians as a case-in-point. Beyond the aesthetic benefits, at that time whiter teeth indicated a higher social ranking, and implied wealth and good health. The preferred approach to whitening in those days involved a mixture of ground pumice and white vinegar, applied to the teeth using a frayed stick.

At-home whitening was discovered by accident in the late 1960s when an orthodontist designed custom-fitted retainers, onto which a specially formulated gel designed to improve gum health was applied. These retainers would then be worn by the patient overnight.

An unexpected extra benefit was soon observed … whiter teeth! As a result, countless at-home teeth whitening products have flooded the market ever since.

Driven by the increase in popularity and public demand, today there are numerous modern teeth whitening systems.

Modern options do, however, vary in everything from price, to application method, to effectiveness, and even safety. So where should you start?

When deciding on the treatment that’s best for you, the cause of the discoloration you’re looking to resolve should first be identified by your dentist, to ensure the most appropriate and effective approach.

The causes of tooth discolouration

Extrinsic or external stains result from compounds being absorbed into the teeth or creating a chemical interaction on the surface. This is most often related to personal consumption, with the discolouring agents in question found in foods and drinks known to stain our teeth. Think soy sauce, turmeric, curry, coffee and red wine. Smoking is another well-known example of the impact of consumption on the staining of our teeth. Poor oral hygiene can further exacerbate the problem, with tooth enamel becoming more susceptible to staining because there is more acid present in the mouth.

Intrinsic discolouration occurs inside the tooth. It can be attributed to hereditary health conditions, tooth trauma, and certain medications used during tooth development such as tetracycline-related antibiotics. Interestingly, the type of tetracycline can even impact whether the discolouration appears as being more yellow, grey or brown! Excessive fluoride can be another cause, as can teeth grinding. Intrinsic discolouration can often be more challenging to lift, meaning over the counter (OTC) whitening treatments have little effect.

Modern tooth whitening approaches

In a nutshell, teeth can be given a whiter and brighter appearance by removing stains, as well as permeating them with oxygen to lighten the shade.

While approaches may vary, the fundamentals remain the same. Hydrogen peroxide and/or Carbamide peroxide are used to permeate the tooth enamel, before interacting with and degrading the compounds causing the discoloration.

Today’s methods for teeth whitening can broadly be placed into three distinct categories …

  • OTC products obtained at the local pharmacy or online, including whitening toothpastes, rinses, gels and DIY whitening trays. Some at-home kits even include LED activation lights to enhance the effects of the chemicals applied!
  • Mouth trays, custom-made to fit each client, combined with whitening gels, designed for at-home application. This process takes place over a number of months, and involves regular monitoring by your dental professional to ensure any necessary changes to the approach are applied.
  • Supervised, in-chair treatments provided entirely within dental clinics, by dental professionals.

 The OTC route

As a general rule, an approach delivered by an experienced dental professional is always going to offer better (and safer) results than any OTC alternative.

One significant issue with the use of OTC trays is that they don’t necessarily conform to the shape of the mouth. At-home whitening trays should be custom-designed, carefully taking into consideration the specifics of each individual’s mouth.

Beware of whitening agents sold online, as problems with burned gums and mucosa (i.e. the moist, inner lining of some organs and body cavities) have been documented.

Poorly constructed or non custom-made trays may cause sensitivity and hinder the outcome of the whitening procedure.

And of course, by independently using OTC solutions you miss out on the expert monitoring needed to maximise results and ensure the integrity of your teeth.

The supervised at-home whitening approach

Custom-made mouth trays ensure a safer and more economical application of the whitening gel, while protecting the gums. They are also likely to be more comfortable than OTC options, leading to better compliance.

Regular professional monitoring is crucial to ensure a whitening gel with the right concentration of Hydrogen peroxide and Carbamide peroxide, applied for appropriate durations! Initial examinations to rule out tooth decay, exposed tooth surfaces, unfavourable gum conditions are crucial to help ensure you don’t experience a bad reaction.  

Regular monitoring with your dentist is a critical component of this approach, to ensure any problems such as sensitivity, or irritated or bleeding gums are properly addressed and the best results are achieved.

This home whitening tray option is great for ongoing maintenance. The best results are achieved when the treatment is repeated cyclically, alongside preventive hygiene maintenance appointments with your dentist. 

You’ll receive specially-formulated toothpaste to use throughout the process to seal whitened enamel, as well as a log to record the length of time you’ve worn your trays each day. Your dentist can therefore properly monitor your progress, and make professional recommendations for any changes to your whitening routine.

The timeframe varies from client to client. Some patients see results within two-to-five weeks. However, for severe cases such as badly tetracycline-stained teeth, it could take six months to a year before a satisfactory result can be achieved. Selected teeth may require a more extended, modified routine.

For the best outcome, we advise that trays are worn overnight, or for a minimum of two hours per day. This can be worked around your own schedule, perhaps as you cook dinner, relax and watch TV, do the dishes or check your emails.

Reducing the amount of tooth-staining food and drink consumed during this process – including coffee, red wine, curry, beetroot and more – will help to maximise effectiveness. It is also advisable not to smoke throughout this treatment.

Over and above the whitening effect, this process can offer additional benefits, with the Carbamide peroxide playing an important role in reducing decay, improving gum health, and helping to facilitate gum healing.

Custom trays can also serve additional purposes, such as the application of other therapeutic gels, and management of dry mouth, implant infections and rampant decay.

The in-chair treatment

iSmile Studio’s in-chair whitening treatment empowers us to remove years of discolouration, revitalising your smile in one simple sitting. Regular follow ups with your dentist and proper maintenance worked into your daily oral hygiene routine can mean the results remain visible for many years to come.

What to expect?

Once your oral health check is complete, we’ll place a protective barrier over your gums and lips to defend the soft tissue from the the specially formulated whitening gel. This gel is then exposed to plasma light, allowing the active ingredients to open the pores of the tooth, to access and neutralise the stains.

While it tends to vary between patients, this process normally takes around 90-minutes. During this time, we’ll conduct continuous monitoring to follow your progress, ensure your comfort, and reapply the whitening and sensitivity control gels as necessary.

Many clients ask if this type of treatment will cause them pain. You are unlikely to feel zingers as some literature might have you believe, because at iSmile Studio we have pioneered a revolutionary in-chair whitening technique, to ensure an entirely pain-free procedure!

But wait! There’s more!

Beyond the whitening treatments themselves, there are extra steps you can take to further improve and maintain results. For instance, internal teeth whitening can work wonders for teeth with discolouration resulting from root canal therapy. And by opting for white fillings when you next require a cavity to be fixed (or even by replacing existing non-white fillings), a more natural-look can be achieved.

What’s more, the results of your whitening can be further complemented by other treatments including orthodontic aligners, crowns, veneers, implants, restorations and minimally invasive micro- and macro-abrasion procedures.

Brighten your smile for a happier, more confident you …

A brighter smile will have you beaming with confidence! Embrace the ‘new normal’ with a new smile!

Teeth whitening – All your questions answered …

Is teeth whitening safe?

Yes! Teeth whitening, and in particular the use of peroxide, has undergone extensive testing over many years to ensure it is safe for your tooth enamel and gums. Rest assured, with thorough pre-treatment evaluation and preparation, an individual approach delivered by expert hands, ongoing professional supervision, and the selection of the safest whitening gel for your teeth and gums, your safety is guaranteed.

Can teeth whitening lead to extra sensitivity?

Typically, up to 50 per cent of patients have reported experiencing some extra sensitivity (usually only very slight and temporary) during or after their whitening treatment. However, research has identified specific compounds that are now added to whitening products to help reduce sensitivity.

This is one of the major reasons it is important to choose a whitening approach that involves some element of monitoring by your dental professional. Any issues around sensitivity can be appropriately addressed, either through a change in technique, a short break from treatment, or extra supports such as soothing and desensitising gels and toothpastes, and other home care products.

And if you opt for the innovative iSmile Studio in-chair treatment, you will experience no extra sensitivity whatsoever!

How successful are teeth whitening treatments?

With the right approach delivered in the right way, teeth whitening is generally very successful, which explains its popularity. The darker your teeth, the more dramatic the results will appear, with some people achieving a smile up to eight shades lighter!

However, in some instances – such as where stains contain metallic compounds – whitening is a more difficult process. For the perfect result, your whitening treatment may need to be used in combination with additional cosmetic procedures such as ceramic restorations, or composite or porcelain veneers.

How long do the results of teeth whitening last?

The actual length of time you can expect to enjoy the results f your whitening varies between individuals. In some cases, it may be necessary to consider a top-up treatment after 18 to 24 months, depending on the source of the discolouration.

Are there steps I can take to make the results last longer?

The best and longest-lasting results are maintained with regular at-home oral hygiene practices.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet (avoiding things like berries, chocolate and coffee), hydration, and the use of medications and asthma sprays can also have an impact on how long-lasting your results are.

And finally, to keep your new smile looking healthy and radiant, we recommend regular hygienist appointments at least every six months.

Are there certain people who should not consider teeth whitening?

In some instances, teeth whitening treatments are not an appropriate solution for a person’s tooth discolouration. Pregnant women, young children, patients with dentures, implants and bridges, those with extremely sensitive teeth, or those who have periodontal disease should make sure to speak to their dental expert before planning their treatment and committing to a particular whitening option.

How can I be sure my teeth are not too white?

Traditionally, whitening has been focused on returning teeth to their original, natural colour. But these days, we can go beyond that! A whiter smile is increasingly becoming the new natural.

At iSmile Studio we cater to your individual requirements. Through evaluation of your smile aesthetics we aim to help you achieve the smile shade that best complements your complexion and lightens up your face.

Posted on 19 July 2021 by iSmile Studio Balwyn