Your Guide to Tooth Whitening

More people than ever before are after that pearly-white Hollywood style smile. There are so many products and services that offer tooth whitening, it can be hard to know what’s actually involved in the process.

So, here’s your quick guide to tooth whitening; what it is, how it works, and is it safe?

What is Tooth Whitening?

Simply put, tooth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter in colour. But don’t worry, it’s not bleach like you clean your bathroom with! This is specially formulated to be safe, and brighten the colour of your teeth by several shades.

Who Performs Tooth Whitening?

A proper tooth whitening should only be carried out by a dentist or other regulated dental professional, such as a dental hygienist. It’s important to note that these professionals can only carry out this work on the orders of a dentist.

Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening, but if there’s no dental professional present then this is illegal. Getting a tooth whitening done by anyone other than a dental professional could seriously harm your oral health and you could end up losing teeth.

What Happens During?

If you want your teeth whitened it will involve several trips to the dentist. The dentist will make a mouthguard using an impression of your teeth. Think of it a bit like those mouthguards you had to wear while playing hockey at school. The dentist will then show you how to use the bleaching gel in conjunction with the guard.

You will use your mouthguard at home, regularly applying the gel for a period of time that your dentist will specify. Most gels will need to be applied regularly for 2-4 weeks, although you can get stronger ones that reduce this time to a week.

You can also choose to have your teeth laser whitened – another service only provided by qualified dental professionals. The bleaching product is usually painted on your teeth and a laser is used to activate the bleach. This takes about an hour, so is a much shorter process than the other method, but it does cost more.

What About Home Whitening?

Many shops sell products that claim to whiten your teeth, although they generally don’t have enough of the bleach to make much of a difference. Whitening your teeth by yourself also carries with it risks, which is why it’s always best to go pro.

With home whitening kits, the mouthguard provided generally won’t fit your mouth. It won’t be made for you which means that it will never fit 100%. If the mouthguard doesn’t fit properly you could risk the gel leaking and causing blistering and other sensitivity on your gums.

Last Thoughts

It’s worth noting a few keys points before getting your teeth whitened:

  • This treatment won’t work on dentures, fillings, crowns, or veneers.
  • Tooth whitening is only available on the NHS if you need your teeth whitened for a medical reason. If you are getting it done for cosmetic reasons, you’ll have to pay.
  • Tooth whitening isn’t permanent. The results vary from person to person, it can last anywhere from a few months to three years. The results are more likely to fade quicker if you smoke, drink lots of red wine, tea, and coffee.

Make sure to talk to your dentist before starting on any tooth whitening. You should talk to them anyway – as they’re the only ones who can perform this treatment safely.