If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and wished your teeth were whiter and brighter, read on:
Professional teeth whitening is one of the most effective ways to improve your smile and has the advantage of being simple, predictable and cost-effective.
It is important to start with the small print: tooth whitening is legal and safe when carried out by a dentist or under the direct supervision of a dentist. It is illegal and ungoverned when carried out by a beautician, at a shopping centre or at a wedding fair, so beware. Using the wrong product can cause irreversible harm to your teeth, including discolouration and erosion, so always consult a dentist if you are considering teeth-whitening.
Although teeth seem solid, they are, in fact, permeable. This means that colours from food, drink and medicines can actually penetrate the enamel and remain there long after that cup of tea or glass of wine is gone.
Fortunately, that same permeability means that dental whitening gels can penetrate teeth and bleach out these stains.
Teeth are whitened by being covered in whitening gel for a period of hours – generally overnight. This is achieved by making you a “tray” that fits your mouth perfectly and holds the whitening gel against your teeth exactly where we want it to be.
We take time to check that the tray fits your mouth perfectly. We then demonstrate how to put exactly the right amount of gel into the tray and show you how to place the soft tray into your mouth at bedtime. We can determine how many nights you will use your tooth-whitening and if you require any special instructions.
Teeth-whitening will permanently change the colour of your teeth, however, if your diet contains food or drink that stains your teeth, you might feel that you want to give your teeth a whitening boost after six months or so. Hence it’s important you are given detailed instructions on caring for your whitening tray. We will discuss the best way of doing this so your tray maintains its exact fit and can be re-used at regular intervals as discussed with your dentist.
Porcelain restorations e.g. crowns, bridges and veneers are not permeable so don’t discolour and stain in the same way that teeth do. If you have these restorations it’s important to discuss teeth whitening with your dentist prior to proceeding with any treatment.
There is only one product that can safely be used to whiten teeth – hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide in the correct concentration and formula is safe and extremely effective.
One drawback of hydrogen peroxide is that it rapidly breaks down into inactive by-products; within an hour it has broken down and is completely ineffective. Hence dental companies produce whitening gels containing a simple chemical called carbamide peroxide. Once placed in the mouth this gradually breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is effective because it provides active hydrogen peroxide for 6-8 hours. The British Dental Bleaching Society recommend using 10% Carbamide peroxide – giving a sustained release of 3% hydrogen peroxide as the most effective product. Twenty years of research have shown that this results in the most effective teeth-whitening, oddly giving better results than stronger concentrations.
On 31st October 2012 changes were made to the Cosmetic Products Regulation 2008 and all products containing more than 6% Hydrogen peroxide were banned. This led to an overnight ban on in-surgery whitening as most of these systems were based on using 20-22% hydrogen peroxide.
The only side-effect some patients report is temporary sensitivity. Whitening gel manufacturers are constantly trying to improve their products by adding desensitisers. If you do suffer from, or develop, sensitivity we can advise you on the best way to manage it using the very effective desensitisers now available. It’s important to understand that this sensitivity is temporary.
If you are considering tooth-whitening, Advanced Dentistry can offer you:
We are happy to answer any questions about tooth-whitening both from our own patients and anyone else who has an enquiry.Back to Cosmetic Dentistry