Teeth whitening refers to the process of lightening stains on your teeth’s enamel (the outer protective layer) and dentine (the inner layer). It is usually achieved using products containing hydrogen peroxide.
It has recently become an affordable and effective way to enhance your appearance. But if you’re considering teeth whitening, you may be overwhelmed by the choice of treatments available. Our guide to teeth whitening is here to help you understand the different options and guide you to a treatment that’s best for you.
Teeth whitening at home
If you’re opting for teeth whitening at home, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This is then used to create a custom-made plastic tray that fits over your teeth.
When you carry out the treatment at home, you put the whitening gel supplied by your dentist into the tray and fit it over your teeth. It should stay in place for up to two hours if you use it during the day, or you can leave it in overnight.
Your teeth will gradually take on a whiter shade with optimum results achieved after 10 to 14 days.
You can also purchase teeth whitening kits over the counter but note that the trays will not be custom-made to fit your teeth and could result in the peroxide gel coming into contact with your gums and irritating them. The percentage of peroxide in the gel will also be weaker than that supplied by your dentist, so you may not achieve great results.
Teeth whitening at your dentist’s surgery
If you opt to have your teeth whitened at your dentist’s surgery, whitening gel will be applied to your teeth and then a light or laser will be used to activate the gel.
It’s a quick and effective way to whiten your teeth, with the process taking around an hour with immediate results.
Teeth whitening strips
These flexible plastic strips contain a layer of teeth whitening gel. When placed against your teeth the gel gets to work on the stains. You will need to apply the strips every day for two to three weeks.
If you opt for teeth whitening strips, you need to be aware that it can be tricky to place them so that they are in full contact with every tooth. This could mean that the whitening effect is uneven. You also run the risk of the gel coming into contact with your gums and irritating them.
Teeth whitening toothpaste
Teeth whitening toothpastes work by using mild abrasive agents to buff away stains on the surface of your teeth. They may not be the most effective way to whiten your teeth as they don’t contain bleaching agents such as hydrogen peroxide.
What else do I need to know?
Teeth whitening is not permanent. The effects will last between several months to three years and will be reduced if you drink large amounts of tea, coffee or red wine, or if you smoke.
Teeth whitening won’t work on veneers, crowns or dentures, and it may not work well on teeth stained by antibiotics during their formation phase. It is also not recommended if you suffer from gum disease.
It’s always preferable to consult your dentist before you embark on teeth whitening. Firstly because over-use of home treatments such as over-the-counter kits and teeth whitening strips can erode your dental enamel and lead to serious problems.
If you choose teeth whitening by your dentist, they can examine your teeth and assess whether they are suitable for treatment. They can also custom make the plastic tray you’ll use so that it’s a perfect fit for your mouth and doesn’t allow the whitening gel to come into contact with your gums.
Finally, they will closely monitor the teeth whitening process and ensure that it is at all times safe, effective and suitable for you as an individual. It’s the safe way to achieve the brighter, whiter smile you’ve always dreamed of.
For professional teeth whitening services, get in touch to book your appointment today.