A less than pearly white smile is no longer something to settle for. Teeth whitening is a quick and effective procedure to lighten the teeth to your preferred shade and can be a very effective anti-ageing procedure. There are a number of over-the-counter teeth whitening products that promise to do the job and it might be worth exploring them first. However, they can only lighten the teeth to a certain degree so you might be advised to visit a cosmetic dentist to get noticeable results.
Teeth whitening: Am I suitable?
Your teeth discolour for a number of reasons; from drinking certain beverages, smoking, certain medications, damage to the teeth, tooth decay or just due to the ageing process. A cosmetic dentist will be able to evaluate if teeth whitening is the best treatment option or whether veneers might fulfil your expectations better.
There is no research to suggest damage to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, but they may be advised to delay treatment. For patients with sensitive gums and teeth, it might still be possible to have your teeth whitened but your practitioner might have to take certain precautions or prep the teeth. Those who have had dental treatments such as fillings or crowns or who have gum diseases, cavities or exposed roots also might have issues.
Teeth whitening: What do I have to do to prepare?
A consultation with your practitioner to evaluate your suitability for teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening: What’s the treatment like?
Teeth whitening can be split into in-clinic treatments and at-home treatments. Each treatment uses a chemical called carbamide peroxide, which reacts with the acid on the teeth to become hydrogen peroxide, a powerful bleaching agent.
For an at-home treatment, your practitioner will make a mould of your teeth and then provide you with customised trays and the bleaching agent. You will need to wear the trays for a few hours a day or even overnight.
An in-clinic treatment utilises laser or a light source to get instantly whiter teeth. Your practitioner will provide you wish a special gum shield, before applying the peroxide gel to the teeth. The gel is then activated by the heat or light source. Treatment usually takes an hour.
Teeth whitening: What about after?
Professional teeth whitening can lighten the teeth by up to ten shades. It might be necessary to combine an in-clinic treatment with an at-home treatment to maintain these results over the long term. At-home treatments alone might take up to six weeks to get your teeth to the correct shade.
To maintain results, you are advised to avoid smoking and drinks and foods that will re-stain the teeth. Repeat treatments are also advised to maintain results.
Teeth whitening: Are there any risks or side effects?
The greatest side effect of teeth whitening is the potential for heightened teeth or gum sensitivity, which is more likely after an in-clinic treatment. This is described as sharp shooting pains but these should just last a few days post treatment at most and your practitioner can provide you wish a special gel or mousse that will help.
Teeth whitening: What will it cost me?
It is possible to lighten just one tooth at a time, but most people have a treatment on the whole mouth. This usually costs from £500.