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The perfect smile

Tooth whitening is a minimally invasive and effective way of changing the natural colour of your teeth without having to remove any tooth substance. It is considered a very good option for you if you are considering having whiter teeth without having to place veneers or crowns on them which involve drilling your tooth.

As we grow older our teeth also become darker and although this is partly caused by the process of ageing, it is also exaggerated by our diet and by other habits such as smoking. Tea, coffee, red wine, curries and other foods which have strong colours can have an effect on the overall colour of our teeth, especially if being consumed over a longer period of time. Teeth also can become darker if their roots have been damaged or diseased and can also be stained by certain medication.

Just like eye colour and skin type which are genetic, our teeth are also different from person to person. Certain people naturally have either a grey, yellow or brownish shade to their teeth.

What methods of tooth whitening are there? Your dentist will need to assess your teeth to make sure that you are suitable for the treatment. They will decide if tooth whitening is appropriate for you and will discuss the options available.

There are a number of methods with which you might get your teeth whitened.

In-surgery whitening, performed by a dentist in the dental surgery, is a popular method in which the dentist applies the bleaching material on the patients teeth and supervises the treatment.

Gums sometimes require protection with a special gel prior to application of the bleaching material and the process takes between one to two hours.

Home whitening is another popular method which involves having custom made trays made. This is also supervised by a dentist. You apply the bleaching gel yourself when you are at home and wear it for few hours or even over-night. Your dentist will discuss with you exactly how long you should keep the tray in your mouth. It is important to follow the instructions that you are given to get the best result. Different strengths of bleach require different instructions which will be given and demonstrated in full by the dentist before you leave the surgery. You then regularly apply the whitening product over a two to four week period, generally for an hour to overnight depending on which strength has been prescribed to you.

There is also in-surgery power whitening (laser whitening) in which gel is applied onto your teeth and then a light is shone onto the gel to speed up the whitening reaction. Also here a soft material will be placed over your gums to protect them.

Be aware that tooth whitening can only work on natural teeth. It will not work on any types of false teeth such as dentures, crowns and veneers. Also fillings will not be bleached. If you have any fillings in the front teeth, after the bleaching process your fillings may need to be changed to match the new colour of the teeth.

To maintain the whiteness it is important to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes every day, use fluoride mouthwash and cut down on foods that stain your teeth. You may also require an occasional top-up of bleaching in the future.

Stopping smoking is the most major step in preventing discolouration and staining, as well as improving your overall health.

In the uk it is illegal for anyone other than dentists to carry out teeth whitening. Anyone else offering teeth whitening (e.g. Beauticians, hairdressers, etc) won’t have the right training and knowledge which could permanently damage your teeth and gums. Also they will not be able to help you if something goes wrong.

Products bought online can also be very dangerous as the ingredients cannot be guaranteed and may not be medically approved. Don’t risk your dental health.

Performed under supervision, teeth whitening can result in an amazing and simple improvement to your smile.