Teeth are porous and are therefore not resistant to staining and discolouration. Some people’s teeth may naturally be whiter and more resistant to stains where as other people may find that despite good dental hygiene their teeth are prone to discolouration.
Things such as coffee, red wine, smoking and certain medications can all cause our teeth to discolour and people therefore look to tooth whitening techniques to help improve the appearance of their teeth. Dentists generally use procedures based on a bleaching process and normally use peroxide compounds (3–50%). The higher the % of peroxide the greater the whitening performance but they also have a greater potential to damage your surrounding gums and lips.
How much these procedures can whiten your teeth varies from person to person and from one technique to another. Some people show dramatic improvements whilst for others it is not as impressive. Your dentist will be able to give you an idea as to how effective the treatment is likely to be after you have had a teeth whitening consultation.
There are many teeth whitening techniques available, some which you can do yourself at home and others that need to be performed by the dentist. The main types of teeth whitening are as follows:
- Home whitening kits: These can be bought over the counter and they have one size fits all trays to protect you gums and lips. Buying them from your dentist will mean you get custom made trays which are a safer option. The peroxide used in these kits is lower (3–10%). Your treatment is generally carried over a week to 10 days and the results tend to be more permanent.
- Brite smile teeth whitening: This is carried out by your dentist and involves using a whitening gel in conjunction with a special lamp.
- Laser whitening: The procedure is similar to the Brite smile technique but a laser is used instead of a special lamp.
The procedure: Teeth whitening:
The following describes the procedure for both laser and Brite Smile Whitening:
- First the teeth are thoroughly cleaned removing surface stains and tartar (scale and polish).
- The dentist records the shade / colour of your teeth using a grading scale or with a digital camera so you can see how effective the treatment was.
- You are given safety spectacles to wear, a cheek retractor to keep you lips and cheeks away from your teeth and a protective shield to protect your gums.
- A whitening gel (15 – 50% peroxide) is then placed on your teeth and either a special light or laser is used for about 1 hour to activate the gel and speed up the whitening process.
- The gel is then thoroughly cleaned off and you are shown the results.
- You are often given a whitening kit of lower peroxide concentration ( 3 – 10%) to take home to compliment the procedure.
- Your teeth will often feel sensitive for a few days so it is often advised to avoid hot and cold drinks.
Price guide: Teeth Whitening:
- Tooth whitening kit: £100
- Brite smile whitening: £250
- Laser whitening: UK £500
Prices vary greatly depending on how discoloured your teeth are and the amount of whitening treatments you need.