Cosmetic
Dentistry

Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening is a safe and effective way of improving the colour of teeth.

Bleaching improves the appearance of your teeth without removing any of the natural tooth surface. Bleaching is a better and far more conservative option than a crown or veneer if you want to lighten the colour of healthy teeth. Placing crowns and veneers requires changing the shape of the tooth, involving the removal of natural healthy tooth material, whereas bleaching leaves the teeth unharmed.

Whilst there are a few products that are prescribed for in-surgery bleaching, the system we believe to be gentlest on the teeth is the take-home whitening system.

Bleaching treatment can take place at home or in the dentist’s surgery.

Home bleaching

The dentist will give you a weak bleach gel to use in a tray which fits closely around your teeth. The tray makes sure that the gel does not burn your gums, yet keeps it close to your teeth. You will need to put the gel (in the tray) in your mouth for a few hours on several occasions, as instructed by your dentist (probably over a period of weeks).

It is better to start with one arch (usually the upper) so that you have a starting shade (of your lower teeth) to compare to. Also, wearing both trays at the same time may cause the seal keeping the bleach against your teeth to weaken.

The shade change differs from person to person, but you can decide when the shade is light enough to stop. If in the future one wants to lighten the teeth a touch more (the effect of the bleach wears off slowly over time), just wearing the bleach filled tray again for one or two sessions will bring the teeth back to the lighter shade quite easily.

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Dental Veneers

Veneers are wafer-thin laminates or shells of tooth-coloured material that are cemented to the front surface of teeth to improve their cosmetic appearance.

This is done because the tooth might have been damaged by decay or an accident or might be badly discoloured for some reason.

What to expect

Veneers can be made of porcelain by a dental technician or built up directly on the tooth using layers of tooth coloured filling material.

  • A very small amount of natural tooth material needs to be removed – just enough to prevent the veneer making the tooth look or feel bulky. For this reason, it may not be necessary for the dentist to numb the tooth.
  • Preparation time will depend on how damaged the tooth is and whether it needs to be built up with a filling first.
  • For laboratory made veneers, the dentist will require a second visit to ‘glue’ the veneer into place.
  • Those veneers placed directly onto the tooth can be done in one visit and usually require less tooth removal. Here the surface of the tooth is roughened with a mild acid. The filling material is then applied in layers until the teeth look right.
  • Veneers sometimes come away from the tooth or break if the tooth is knocked. They can sometimes be glued back on, but will have to be replaced if they are damaged.

Benefits

  • Veneers can greatly improve your appearance. They hide imperfections and you lose very little natural tooth material.
  • Veneers are also used to protect teeth from more damage. Tooth surface can be dissolved away by acid in the mouth (usually from too frequent consumption of certain kinds of food and drink); this can make teeth very sensitive to hot and cold. In this situation, veneers can protect the teeth.

If the tooth is strong, a veneer is often a better option than a crown for improving a tooth’s appearance.

Penn Hill Dental

A team of dentists working to ensure you receive the best treatment.

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