Stephen Handisides

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What Is Teeth Whitening?


Tooth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures. Quick and easy to perform, it can totally transform your smile and make you look years younger. Professional teeth whitening can not only remove the surface stains that make your teeth look yellow, but can penetrate the enamel to bleach deep-set stains that over-the-counter systems can’t touch. A dentist will be able to tailor your treatment to get the result you want, whether you are looking for a subtle or more noticeable outcome. Although there are lots of over-the-counter whitening products, you are best advised to go to a dentist, as anything that is sold on the high street is likely to have active ingredients in such low quantities that it is won’t have a very noticeable effect. There may also be some reasons that you are not suitable for teeth whitening treatment, which only a dentist will be able to ascertain.

Am I a Candidate Teeth Whitening?

Ideal candidates for teeth whitening treatments are those whose teeth have become yellow or discoloured due to drinking coffee or red wine, smoking, or just the natural ageing process.

Things to consider with teeth whitening

There are several factors, including your dental health, lifestyle and cosmetic goals, which will determine the right teeth whitening treatment for you. It is important that you have realistic goals – if you wish to completely transform your smile, it may be that a more dramatic treatment such as veneers would be better for you.

The Procedure A whitening treatment usually involves the application of hydrogen peroxide solution. If you opt for an at-home treatment, the product is likely to be in a very low dose to offer gradual results, whereas salon treatments offer stronger solutions for more dramatic results.

For home whitening, your dentist will make a mould of your teeth and then create a customised tray for you to use at home. You will need to apply some whitening gel to the tray and wear it for a few hours each day, or possibly overnight. Daily sessions for up to six weeks should achieve long-lasting whiter teeth.

In-surgery whitening is done using laser or power bleaching. You may need to wear a special shield to protect your gums, then a concentrated peroxide-based gel is applied directly to your teeth. This gel is then activated with heat or light. Treatment usually takes around an hour.

Results With professional teeth whitening, the main benefit is the quick and instant result you get, as teeth can emerge up to 10 shades whiter after just one session. However, while at-home kits do not create instant effects, the long-term whitening approach can deliver longer-lasting results. As such, a combination of a salon treatment and a home whitening tray should maximize your results.

Risks and Complications Most people will experience some sensitivity either during and/or after the initial treatment with laser whitening systems. Some people who have laser whitening experience sharp shooting pains in their teeth for up to 48 hours afterwards. Your dentist may offer you a special gel or mouse to apply to your teeth to help reduce some of the pain and sensitivity. Those who have sensitive teeth are more likely to experience side effects of teeth whitening. To avoid sensitivity, you should avoid very hot or cold foods for 48 hours after treatment, and to maintain the results you should steer clear of cigarettes and teeth-staining food and drinks.

Costs of teeth whitening

Prices for teeth whitening can range from around £40 for a single tooth to over £600 for the whole mouth.

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