Killiney Dental demystifies teeth whitening

One of the most frequent enquiries I deal with in my practice on a daily basis is tooth whitening. It’s in the news, the magazines, on millions of blogs and adverts. Those pearly, Hollywood smiles stare back at you from billboards and posters, in their gleaming perfect way, taunting you about your own graying gnashers and generally pointing out one wizened fact—your teeth aren’t as perfect as theirs.

Here’s the low-down though; most of those smiles are not as you might imagine. They’re not natural teeth after a quick one-hour power-whitening, but most likely veneers or crowns or a mixture of both. Or, heaven forbid, a little touch of photo-shop trickery! So the first point people must realize is the limit of their expectations: Tooth whitening is not a panacea for your dental woes, rather a single part of the arsenal us dentists use to create the best of smiles.

The posters are not to be trusted!

But it’s not all bad. Tooth whitening is by far and away the single most effective and economic way to improve all your teeth in one fail swoop without you hearing the teeth-on-edge shrill of the drill. It’s quick, painless and, for most, extremely effective in bringing the best out of your own natural dentition. And this is the point most should remember. Whitening your teeth will only get them to a point your teeth will allow. If you want the perfect smile with a shade to the far end of dazzling, it’s certain alternative options will be needed such as veneers or porcelain crowns.

And before you all rush off to get it done I want to point out a few more facts. It’s relatively expensive; most treatments cost from €300, and some, that need further treatments, can run to far higher figures. Sure, you can by a product from the chemist, or the web, or concoct something at home, but I can assure you of two things; one—it won’t work and two—you could do more harm than good. In my opinion, there’s only one avenue I’d recommend my patients to pursue and that would be the one leading them to the door of their trusted dentist. We’re heavily regulated, very well trained, with the correct insurance and protection in place, and as it happens the best people to advise you and treat your whitening needs. After all, you wouldn’t get a butcher to build your extension! So, in short a word of warning; beware of solutions that sound too good to be true. They usually are.

The whitening procedure itself is pretty affable to most. We recommend a combination of home whitening for fourteen consecutive nights, followed by an in-house bleaching for two twenty-minute sessions. It’s this combination of gentle long-term bleaching, preconditioning the teeth to be more susceptible to the chair-side session, that gets the best and most predictable results time and time again.

A lot of the power one-hour whitening effects are due to dehydration of the enamel and regression of up to three-four shades, which is usual within twenty-four hours, when the teeth have rehydrated. With the Enlighten dual bleach system we can guarantee patients an excellent result with minimum sensitivity and longer lasting results.

For those with composite/white fillings/crowns/veneers in their mouths you should realize that any shade change in your own natural teeth will not be duplicated in these. All restorations within the aesthetic zone will need replacement, usually two weeks after bleaching when the shade has settled and chemicals present on the teeth as a result of bleaching have faded away. This can be costly and must be discussed and considered before undergoing any whitening procedures.

To finish, bleaching your teeth is an extremely effective way of improving your smile. It’s relatively pocket/purse friendly, mentally untaxing and gentle when done in the correct manner. Results can be quick and wonderfully rewarding for those who have been self-conscious about their discoloured teeth. It’s always a pleasure to show the patient the mirrored results of their treatment, and send them off with a little more bounce in their step and a bag full of goodies to maintain their new and noticeably wider smiles.

And on that note, I’ll let you go. If you would like to discuss tooth whitening with myself or any of our staff, please contact us on 01 2859067

Dr. Gerald O'Connor B.D.S., N.U.I. (hons) (Principal Dentist & Owner)

Dr Gerald O’Connor qualified with honours from University College Cork in 1998, where he achieved his Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree and was awarded the Kerr Prize for Restorative Dentistry. Following his qualification, he spent 6 years gaining experience in a dental clinic in Essex before buying his own practice in 2004. Dr O’Connor quickly added a second location in 2006 and formed the Oak Dental Group.

After returning to Ireland in 2013, he set up Killiney Dental with his long-time partner Rosemarie. Gerald has a wealth of experience in dentistry with a vested interest in modern, evidence-based solutions. He enjoys implementing new dental treatments that are minimally invasive for patients without compromising their desire for an idealised smile. Dr O’Connor currently serves on the Irish Dental Association’s Quality and Patient Safety Committee. In his spare time, he enjoys films, music, fiction writing and being anywhere in sight of the sea.