The ins and outs of teeth whitening

13th March 2010 by

Everyone wants a glamorous set of pearly whites worthy of a Hollywood star. Whiter teeth can take years off your appearance and do wonders for your confidence and serve as indicator of good overall health.

A regular and strict oral hygiene regimen, including daily brushing and flossing, will go a long way to maintaining a whiter-than-white grin. Depending on your lifestyle, however, there are certain everyday habits that can tarnish your teeth, adding an unfavourable yellow or brownish shade. This can take the form of excessive tea, coffee, red wine and smoking. There are countless products on the market claiming to be able to reverse this damage; it has become a massive commercial enterprise. However, before you make any decisions, you owe it to yourself to get clued up.

Growing demand

Our insatiable desire for porcelain teeth is not something that is likely to go away anytime soon. In a British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) survey, teeth whitening was found to be the most popular cosmetic dental treatment (31%), with women aged 25-34 being most likely to have undergone teeth whitening.

Laser teeth whitening saw an 89% rise in demand between 2012 and 2013, a massive increase that came to be known as the ‘TOWIE effect’. Stunning celebrities and flawless smiles have fuelled the market for whiter teeth, and teeth whitening treatments have appeared to suit every possible taste and budget. However, be aware that some teeth whitening products may promise you the world while delivering very little.

The benefits of teeth whitening

Effective teeth whitening is a cheap and time-efficient means of obtaining a new look and boosting your self-confidence. It is a painless procedure and done right it can bring back the natural, healthy colour of your teeth without causing any structural changes. It is entirely safe and legal as long as it is dentist-administered and prescribed.

Whitening realities to bear in mind

While teeth whitening is effective, the results it produces will be a natural white – which might not match up to the porcelain image that you had imagined. For this more striking look, patients should consider the option of porcelain veneers

When whitening your teeth, be warned that fillings and crowns will not be whitened and that the whitening process may cause a temporary sensitivity.

How does teeth whitening work?

Whitening substances make use of oxygenating agents, usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, to penetrate your enamel and access the discoloured molecules in your teeth. The oxygen molecules then react with these molecules and break the bonds that are holding them together through a process called oxidation. Done correctly, and if the you take proper care of your teeth, the effects can last up to ten years.

Whitening your teeth at home

At home, you have a few options when it comes to whitening your teeth. You might try tray-based whitening, where the gel is placed in a custom-made night guard. You wear this night guard for a set period of 10-14 days, depending on the type and concentration of peroxide gel. Hydrogen peroxide gels work quicker than carbamide peroxide gels. You wear the trays for anything between 30 minutes to overnight. Before using tray-based whitening, check with your dentist to see if your teeth are healthy and you have no underlying problems.

You might opt for whitening toothpastes, but there is no evidence that whitening toothpastes can actually whiten your teeth. In fact, they might be damaging your teeth. Most work by using heavy abrasives. These abrasives scratch away at the stains on the surface of your enamel. This enamel does not grow back and you might be left with sensitive teeth as a result. The new Sensodyne Truewhite is less abrasive and helps reduce the buildup of stains

Professional teeth whitening

In-surgery teeth whitening, also known as laser or power bleaching, may be the best way forward when it comes to teeth whitening if you want the fastest result. Your dentist will be able to take stock of the situation and let you know about the health of your teeth and the best way to care for them.

Professional whitening makes use of more concentrated gels, which are applied directly to the teeth and accelerated with heat or light. The latest system from the USA is called Zoom advanced power. It involves placing the gel on the teeth and activating it with an LED light. The procedure usually only takes around 60-minutes; a short price to pay for healthy looking teeth!

When you think of whitening, always remember that prevention is better than cure. According to one source, while 75% of Britons want whiter teeth, 25% of people don’t clean their teeth properly. Brush twice daily, remember to floss and try to cut down on bad habits to keep your teeth in the best possible condition.

For further advice on teeth whitening, contact our Bow Lane Dental team. Please call 020 7236 3600 to speak to a dedicated professional.

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