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Teeth Whitening
What causes staining of teeth?
Teeth are porous and made up of hollow tube-like structures known as dentin tubules. Staining occurs when the surface (‘enamel’) picks up stains from food and beverages through the dentine tubules. Acidic food and beverages such as carbonated drinks and red wine erode the enamel, thus increasing the pick-up rate of stains from other food substances. Some stains are actually caused by pigments embedded in plague that has become coloured.

Extrinsic stains caused by food and beverages are usually reversible and responds well to good oral care, professional cleaning and whitening treatment.
What is the simplest and cheapest way to whiter teeth?
The most basic step to cleaner and whiter teeth is to see a dentist for Scaling and Polishing. Cleaning the teeth will remove the yellowish-black tartar which will make the teeth appear whiter. Polishing will remove the surface stains e.g.coffee, tea, smoking etc. However, Scaling and Polishing can only return your teeth to the "original" color. If you want the teeth even whiter, you have to go for Teeth Whitening.
What are the various forms of Teeth Whitening?
The 2 main forms are: Take Home Teeth Whitening:
  • Chair side/in-Office Teeth Whitening
  • Take Home Teeth Whitening
The Dentist will take an impression of your teeth and custom make a set of trays that will specially fit your teeth. This will ensure that the whitening gel used will be applied onto your teeth and not "spill over" to the gums and tongue. The Dentist will prescribe the concentration of bleaching gel to be used after assessment of your teeth condition. You will need to wear the tray with the gel for 6 hours a day for about 5 days to 2 weeks.
Chair side Teeth Whitening
For the best effect, the Dentist may recommend a combination of Chair side and Take home Teeth Whitening procedures. The additional Take Home kit is to whiten the teeth further and to ensure a more long lasting result. Furthermore, the Take Home kit can also be used as maintenance after the chair side whitening.

First visit to dentist who will do a proper examination and diagnosis, followed by treatment planning. An impression of your teeth is also taken to custom make the trays for your Take Home kit. Appointment is given for the second visit where the Chair side Whitening is performed by the Dentist using Plasma Light Technology (see pictures). During the same visit, the Take Home kit is also issued, and the patient continues to use the Take Home kit for the next 4-5 days. A review appointment is given usually after 1 week to for follow-up assessment. Please visit http://www.opalescence.com/ for further information on teeth whitening.
Non-Dentist vs Dentist
Tooth whitening is a non-invasive solution for mild to moderately discoloured teeth. While tooth whitening is considered a relatively safe treatment, there is still some concerns in relation to tooth whitening services provided by non-dentist, for e.g. at beauty salons.

As dictated by the prevailing regulations from the relevant authorities, teeth whitening products containing more than 0.1% Hydrogen Peroxide are only available via dentists. Hydrogen Peroxide is the chemical ingredient that whitens the teeth.

Many beauty salons claim that they use non-Peroxide whitening gels. The majority of these non-Peroxide whitening agents use Sodium Perborate to ‘whiten’ teeth instead.
Facts About Non-Peroxide Tooth Whitening Agent

Sodium Perborate is a salt made from Hydrogen Peroxide. It causes dehydration of the teeth, resulting in a brighter colour. However, this effect is short-lived as our teeth are re-hydrated through saliva. In short, Sodium Perborate temporarily LIGHTENs teeth, rather than WHITENING them.

On the other hand, Peroxides are “true bleaches” that whiten rather than lighten teeth. Peroxides whiten teeth by opening highly pigmented carbon rings and converting them into chains, which are lighter in colour.

What Else You Need To Know Before You Go For Teeth Whitening?

It is important that you consult the dentist to have a thorough check up first before you proceed with teeth whitening. For e.g., cavities have to be filled up first, or else you may suffer from severe sensitivity or pain after teeth whitening.

As trained dental healthcare provider, the dentist can also advise you on if you are a suitable candidate for teeth whitening procedures. Some stains are intrinsic and thus cannot be removed.
FAQs on Teeth Whitening
Frequently Asked Questions On Teeth Whitening:
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