What Exactly Is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a dental procedure becoming increasingly popular in our society today, along with other cosmetic procedures.

The process was designed primarily to improve the whiteness of teeth through removal of discolouration. In terms of the scientific detail involved with the teeth whitening process the basic concept consists of a peroxide-based substance which is applied to the teeth, resulting in bleaching. Your dentist will make a mould of your teeth and small amounts of the whitening substance are dispensed into the mould. The mould is then fitted onto the teeth and held in place for some period of time (which can differ depending on which whitening product is being used).

The peroxide substance can be applied at a range of concentrations, which in turn alters the outcome of how much discolouration will be removed from the teeth. Teeth whitening shows significantly better results than a standard polish performed by your dentist. Laser teeth whitening will effectively remove stains such as caffeine, red wine, food and stains caused from smoking which have built up for years.

Who Is Teeth Whitening For?

The primary reason for the desire for whiter teeth is mostly cosmetic, white teeth give the impression of healthy teeth. Teeth generally start to show a yellowish tinge with age, so teeth whitening is for anybody in this sense.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Although the vast majority of cases show no direct side effects of this treatment there is the occasional case of shooting pains around the teeth or sensitivity around the teeth after the procedure has been completed. This discomfort should not last any longer than two days and your dentist may provide you with a gel to apply to the teeth to help relieve any pain. During the procedure your dentist will apply a protective material around the teeth to avoid any damage to gums/soft tissues. It has also been advised that hot and cold drinks/foods be avoided during the 48 hours after the treatment. There is rarely any pain or discomfort during the process itself.

How Much On Average Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

On average teeth whitening can cost £40 per tooth and around £500 for the entire mouth if conducted by a dentist. Home whitening kits on average can cost £50 upwards. However there are a number of variables involved which can affect the price, these include which clinic you have the procedure done in and the specific teeth whitening system used ( Zoom!, Enlighten, BriteSmile, etc). A cosmetic dentist will specialise in this particular procedure. Teeth whitening is not available on the NHS.

How Effective Is Teeth Whitening?

It can sometimes take several treatments to reach optimum results, and in some cases results can not be guaranteed. On average results can last between 6-12 months but sometimes touch up treatments will be required. The procedure itself takes up to an hour. After the dentist has started the treatment you must then continue it at home. The whitening product must be reapplied over 2-4 weeks for 30 minutes at a time. Teeth whitening conducted by your dentist will provide an immediate difference compared to home whitening kits.

After teeth whitening it is advised to cut down on food and drink which can stain your teeth in order to assist in maintaining the whiteness of your teeth. Cutting down on smoking is also a good idea.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are several home teeth whitening kits available, especially online. They can provide a cheaper alternative to having the procedure done by a dentist but special care must be taken when using a home kit. There have been cases of burns to the gums and lips resulting from carelessness whilst using home teeth whitening kits. Effectively the use of both home whitening kits and the dental procedure over a long time period is most likely to result in whiter teeth on a permanent scale.

There is also an alternative procedure called laser whitening, which involves the whitening substance being applied to the teeth initially then a laser is shone over the teeth to activate the substance. A rubber protector is put over the teeth beforehand to protect the gums. This process typically makes teeth up to six shaded lighter.

Whitening toothpastes are only effective in removing stains and improving the appearance of the teeth, they do not alter the original colour of the teeth.