Teeth Whitening

Everybody loves a bright white smile and people pay more and more money to improve the look of theirs. Many are satisfied with the sparkle they get from daily oral hygiene routine and regular visits to the dental surgery for a professional clean and polish, but if you decide to go beyond that and make your smile look whiter - make sure you investigate all the options available to you. 

I get asked about teeth whitening A LOT recently. Even at the hairdressers. What is teeth whitening, how does it work, is it safe? Below are the answers to those questions. 

I took this selfie in 2011 after having my teeth whitened for three weeks. Loved the results!

I took this selfie in 2011 after having my teeth whitened for three weeks. Loved the results!

There are many options to have your teeth whitened. You can have it done within an hour in the dental surgery, do it at home with a whitening kit from the dentist, or you can buy a kit from the drugstore. There are also 'whitening' toothpastes available however these rather brighten than whiten as they contain abrasive particles which help remove staining. What whitens the teeth is the bleaching agents in the whitening gels.

AT THE DENTIST

This process is tailored to your needs with the right light intensity and duration at the dental surgery. Your dentist, hygienist or therapist paints a bleaching product onto your teeth and then the light is shone on them to activate or accelerate the bleaching. It takes about an hour! Brilliant options for those who want a quick effect, are time restricted, or cannot commit themselves to wear a mouthguard at home.

However most common side effect associated with 'power whitening' is tooth sensitivity as the effects, which you would normally achieve over two weeks of whitening at home, are achieved within and hour. Therefore your dentist would be the best person to ask if your a good candidate for this type of tooth whitening, and he or she will choose the concentration of the bleaching agent that is correct for you.

tubes containing bleaching agent 

tubes containing bleaching agent 

AT HOME WITH DENTIST DISPENSED WHITENING KIT

I am a great fan of this method. It allows you to have so much  control over the whole process! You can stop whenever you want to, you can go whiter, and you can do it when it suits you. Some people wear their beaching mouth guards for a few hours during the day, others wear them during the night. I had my teeth whitened while wearing the bleaching trays over 20 nights. 

Your dentist, therapist or hygienist will take an impression of your teeth to make a mouthguard and will instruct you how to use it with a bleaching gel. Then you regularly apply the gel to the mouthguard at home and wear it over few hours during the day or at night. If you experience sensitivity you can either discontinue for a few days/nights or apply a desensitising agent provided by the dentist or within your whitening kit.

OVER THE COUNTER PRODUCTS

OTC systems are very popular because it is a much cheaper option of teeth whitening. However there are risks associated with this method because the mouthguard you wear is not custom made for you. If the mouthguard provided does not fit properly, some of the bleaching gel may leak out onto your gums and into your mouth causing blistering and sensitivity.

A FEW ADDS ON

You can help avoid teeth staining by seeing your dental hygienist regularly for a dental cleaning and polish as well as an advice on how to look after your teeth. She or he will help you investigate your diet as well as oral care routine and eliminate foods or agents that may cause staining. 

Discolouration may be caused by foods and drinks high in colour, such as red wine, coffee, black tea, some spices such as turmeric. It may be also caused by trauma, some medication and simply ageing. Habits, such as smoking and betel nut chewing not only produce dark, hard to remove staining, but also put your oral and general health at risk.

Teeth whitening may not correct all types of discolouration. For example, yellowish hued teeth will bleach fine, like mine did, but brownish may not whiten as well whereas greyish may not whiten at all. Best person to ask how successful your bleaching would be will be your dentist.

If you have tooth coloured fillings they will not whiten and may stand out in your smile. You may need to investigate the options of replacing them, for example with a lighter shade filling .

Hope this post has helped you getting to know teeth whitening options available to you. If you are ready to make a decision, head to the dental surgery, make an appointment and go for it - good luck !


In the USA and UK, teeth whitening services in malls, spas and salons are illegal if carried out by a staff without any dental training or dental qualifications. 

Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be performed by a dentist, dental hygienist or therapist or clinical dental technician in the UK, and in the USA also by a registered dental assistant, on the prescription of the dentist.