How does tooth whitening work?

Smile better.

Most of us enjoy drinking tea, coffee and the odd glass of red wine, causing our teeth to become gradually discoloured, so it’s no surprise that tooth whitening has become one of the most popular aesthetic treatments around.

But how does tooth whitening work? Does it hurt or damage your teeth? And will you like the results? After all, celebrities whose teeth are a dazzling – and frankly implausible – shade of white has become an all-too-common sight.

Tooth whitening is actually a great way of subtly improving the appearance of your teeth, restoring a lighter, whiter look and making you feel more confident and keen to show off your smile. But it needs to be carried out in the right way.

With this in mind, leading a healthy lifestyle is as much a part of keeping your mouth and teeth healthy as keeping a good daily routine with brushing and flossing.  

What are the do's and dont's of tooth whitening?

Firstly, it’s important that tooth whitening is done by a qualified dental professional. Going to a beauty salon where staff do not have dental training could put your oral health at risk. The treatment involves bleachingA cosmetic dental procedure that whitens the teeth using a bleaching solution. your teeth so it’s very important that the bleaching gel is applied to your teeth only – contact with your gums can cause blistering and sensitivity.

Also, while there are many home whitening kits on sale which look tempting, they’re usually not worth the money because they simply don’t contain a high enough percentage of whitening product. Added to this, the trays supplied in these kits aren’t fitted to your specific mouth shape so the gel can leak out and cause damage.

The process of tooth whitening at your dentist is quick and painless, and will usually consist of a couple of visits followed by some at-home treatment.

What happens in a tooth whitening treatment?

•    Your dentist will check your teeth to make sure there are no dental issues which might prevent treatment, such as gum disease 
•    They’ll take impressions of your teeth (which just takes a couple of minutes) in order to create your personalised whitening trays 
•    You’ll return a week or two later to collect your trays. Your dentist will check they fit correctly and demonstrate how to use them
•    The dentist may perform one session of whitening in the salon, after which your teeth will already appear lighter
•    You’ll wear the trays at home every day or every other day for a few hours or overnight

The beauty of at-home treatment is that you can control how white you want your teeth to be, and you can also use the trays for a monthly ‘top-up’ treatment to maintain your lovely new, whiter smile.

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