Everyone we see on television, online or in magazines has beautiful, dazzling white teeth. We all want our teeth to look that good so that we can feel confident about our smile.
It should come as no surprise to learn that people with great teeth and a bright smile tend to be full of confidence, while those with discoloured teeth can feel self-conscious about opening their mouths. If you want a brighter smile to lift your confidence, then teeth whitening is an option worth considering.
There are many different teeth whitening treatments available, from off-the-shelf teeth whitening kits to dentist prescribed teeth whitening kits and cosmetic procedures in the surgery. Which is best? Here’s some information on each to help you decide:
Off-the-shelf teeth whitening kits
You can buy DIY teeth whitening kits from a number of stores and online, but there are some things that you should know before taking the plunge.
The active chemical used to whiten teeth in bleaching gel is hydrogen peroxide. Off-the-shelf teeth whitening kits can legally only have a maximum of 0.1% peroxide in them, thus making the product less effective.
The NHS warn that some at home kits can be damaging as they can’t protect your gums and the gel may leak into your mouth. The product you are buying online may come from another country with less stringent health and safety regulations, meaning that it could contain a higher level of hydrogen peroxide which is damaging to both teeth and gums. If you have any doubts about a product that you have bought, the best person to ask is always your dentist.
It’s best to buy teeth whitening products directly from your dentist, as they will be able to vouch for the product, assess the suitability of your teeth to the bleaching process, and give you the best possible advice on how to use it safely at home.
Professional at home teeth whitening
Unlike the off the shelf kits, professional at home teeth whitening kits which have been prescribed by a dentist can legally contain up to 6% hydrogen peroxide, and you must be over 18 to have this treatment. Professional at home teeth whitening kits from your dentist are one of the most effective forms of teeth whitening. Once the dentist has assessed and secured the health of existing teeth and gums, whitening can safely commence and they will instruct you on how to use the gel safely.
This method involves wearing custom-made trays that contain bleaching gel. You can wear them at night and the procedure will take approximately two to four weeks depending on the level and type of staining.
Dental whitening kits are often the most effective type of whitening given the use of the right product combinations and something we recommend to our patients.
If you are considering cosmetic dental treatments, ensure your dentist is registered with the General Dental Council. You want to be sure that the person doing your treatment is a professional.
Anyone other than a dental professional offering teeth whitening in the UK, such as beauticians, can be prosecuted. While many beauticians offer the service on the high street, it is illegal for them to do so if there isn’t a dental professional present. If a salon gives you the bleaching gel to self-administer whilst they are there, it is still illegal as they are not a registered dental professional. Teeth whitening products offered but not administered correctly are breaking the law, such as with the case against Megawhite in 2014.
If you decide to go to the dentist, you will have a thorough discussion about the shade you want your teeth to be and about the best way to get the results you want. You will usually receive a deep clean of your teeth so they will be ready for any treatment. The existing health of the teeth and gums needs to be assessed and made suitable prior to commencement of the teeth whitening.
If you’re looking for quick results, then having laser whitening or ‘The Zoom’ at the dentist is the best option. The procedure uses both a whitening gel and LED light whilst also protecting your gums. The procedure can whiten your teeth up to eight shades in one hour. This is a great method to use if you’re after whiter teeth in time for an upcoming event, such as wedding. We often find that this kind of whitening gives a good lift in whiteness but is not as long lasting as the alternative forms that your dentist can provide. Most dentists will recommend using a gel at home to keep results looking good.
Whichever method you decide to use, you should take care of your newly whitened teeth afterwards. Avoid substances which can stain your teeth such as tea, coffee and red wine. Always brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Most importantly, talk to your dentist as their knowledge and expertise can help you to get the results you desire.