Looking for a brighter smile?
The least damaging and most conservative way of making your teeth whiter is by bleaching. Contrary to what you might think, brushing your teeth harder with a more abrasive tooth paste will not make your teeth whiter but rather make them turn darker faster. The intrinsic colour of your teeth (your natural tooth colour) is related to the colour and thickness of the enamel and of the material underneath this layer--the dentin. Extrinsic stains may darken your teeth and this depends on the types of foods and liquids you ingest. Thus, the thinner the enamel, the darker your teeth are. The darker the underlying dentin, the darker your teeth are. The more coffee, tea, cola beverage and red wine you drink, the darker your teeth will become. If you smoke, that will darken your teeth. Cracks that are commonly found in the enamel of your teeth may provide a pathway for fluids and stains that can discolour the underlying dentin. No amount of brushing will help in these instances. Finally, teeth get darker as we age.
If you have a yellow, brown or orange shade to your teeth, in most cases they can be made whiter by the bleaching procedure. Bleaching works very well in removing age related darkening of your teeth. No drilling or freezing is required. Your teeth will not become weaker. Because the mineralization of teeth varies so much from person to person, there is no way to determine how long it will take to achieve a satisfactory colour change. The darker your teeth are, the more time is required for a colour change. The bleaching will also work to a lesser degree on tetracycline (antibiotic) discolourations. We have seen fair to very good results from bleaching. It takes more time to achieve good results.
There are two main types of bleaching. One is done by the patient at home and the other is done by the dental hygienist or dentist during an office visit. You will be given further information describing the details of each type of procedure. The colour change should last for several years. Special "touch-up" bleach may be used periodically to return the teeth to the whiter shade obtained with the initial bleaching session. But, if you drink a lot of coffee, tea, cola sodas, red wine, or smoke, the teeth may begin to turn darker sooner. If this happens, the bleaching process can be repeated. Do not expect the teeth to turn as white as new fallen snow. Most people achieve a satisfactory colour change in a short period of time. The possible side effects include temporary white discolouration of the gum tissues if the bleaching solution comes into contact with the gums. This goes away quickly. The teeth may also become slightly sensitive to temperature changes for a short time. This also goes away. Very rarely, the teeth may bleach in an uneven or "patchy" manner. This may be related to the manner in which the teeth developed and discontinuing the bleaching process will return the enamel to the original colour. There are no other adverse affects known.
What are veneers?
Veneers are extremely thin acrylic or porcelain shells that are attached to the front surfaces of teeth. Porcelain veneers are an excellent choice for hiding severe discoloration caused by antibiotics or past injury. They are even more commonly used to correct teeth that are badly chipped, very uneven, or widely spaced. They are highly resistant to permanent staining from coffee or tea and because they are so strongly bonded to the teeth, they provide a naturalness that is very appealing to the patient.
How long will they last?
Porcelain veneers generally last for many years, depending on how well they are taken care of by the patient. In some instances a porcelain veneer may even last longer than a crown from an aesthetic point of view. Porcelain veneers achieve virtually invisible edges next to the gums and remain almost undetectable, even if the gums move. However, veneers can chip or peel off if not cared for properly. One must avoid habits such as biting of fingernails and chewing on hard objects.
Can I have porcelain veneers?
Porcelain veneers must be applied on fairly sound teeth. Those with gum disease or little to no natural enamel would not be good candidates. Veneers are not the ideal alternative to orthodontic treatment. If you are considering veneers as a method to correct twisted and overcrowded front teeth, please consider orthodontic treatment as the more appropriate therapy. However, if orthodontic treatment is an undesirable option for you, veneers can be placed to correct this crowded appearance. Before you even start the process, we can produce a model of what you can expect the final cosmetic result to look like.
What is the procedure?
Two appointments are required, both are virtually painless. On your first visit, some minor removal of tooth structure is usually required to prevent your teeth from looking too thick after the veneers are applied. We then take a mold or impression of your teeth, so the veneers can be custom-made to ensure a perfect fit. On the next visit, we apply a mild cleaning solution to the teeth and glue the veneers. Placing veneers is often an irreversible process because a small amount of the enamel has been removed to accommodate the thickness of the custom-made shell. Veneered teeth must be periodically re-veneered if the veneer chips or if decay develops under it.