If you are currently thinking about Teeth Whitening and getting your teeth whitened, then you no doubt have a large number of questions regarding all aspects of the treatment and the process that you need answering. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive blog post for you that aims to cover all the main questions that you have. Read on to discover what you need to know…
Teeth Whitening has become huge business in the past few years, as more and more people realise that the technology and innovation now exists in the dental industry to get your teeth and overall smile looking better in super quick time – and without having to spend a small fortune to do so.
The confidence and increase in self-esteem that a fantastic smile can provide is often invaluable to the people who have had teeth whitening treatment, and many patients state that it’s played an important part in their lives in terms of the measures that they have taken to actively increase their overall quality of life.
When you think about it, there aren’t many more pleasingly heart-warming things in life than a beautiful smile, as it symbolises everything that’s important about human contact, interaction and social communication. So it makes sense that people are starting to find ways to improve their smile and become happier with what others see when they display their teeth to the world.
So sit back and enjoy this guide to Teeth Whitening which we have put together to educate and inform you on everything that you need to know before taking the plunge. Let’s get started with a brief explanation of exactly what teeth whitening is, and why it’s continuing to grow rapidly in popularity all over the world.
What is Teeth Whitening?
In simple terms, the process of teeth whitening involves taking measures to lighten the colour of the teeth, either by changing the intrinsic colour of the teeth, or by removing and controlling the formation of extrinsic staining.
Which specific method is most suitable for you will depend on a range of factors, and you can get expert advice and guidance on the best way to whiten your own teeth from a fully-qualified and experienced dental professional, who will be fully aware of all the available methods and what’s best for you.
There are now many different products and methods of attempting to whiten your teeth, and it should be noted that for whitening treatment to stand the best possible chance of being as effective as possible, a dental professional should ideally correctly diagnose the type, intensity and location of the tooth discolouration.
The recent explosion of teeth whitening procedures has almost certainly in part been down to some notable celebrities and public figures that have taken action to improve their pearly whites – and of course it’s had the desired effect of getting them noticed! This has prompted more and more people to become aware of various teeth whitening options that are available, and to investigate them with a view of getting similar treatment done themselves.
Tooth whitening is now one of the most requested dental procedures done every year, with the UK tooth whitening industry now estimated to be worth over £40 million.
With this kind of growth, there’s no sign of teeth whitening declining anytime soon, which means that the options and choice available to you in this area are likely to keep growing and improving over the coming years. And this can only be a good thing for you if you are currently considering getting this kind of treatment for yourself as a method of improving your teeth and your smile.
Who is Teeth Whitening for?
Almost anyone whose permanent teeth are in generally good condition can qualify for tooth whitening, depending on exactly what you want done and any other issues that you might have with your teeth right now.
Your dentist will be able to assess your oral health and recommend the whitening method that’s best for you once they have given you a thorough examination.
There are some general rules and guidelines concerning teeth whitening that a professionally qualified expert will be able to advise you on. For example, if you have any history of periodontal disease or particularly sensitive teeth, then it might be best for you to avoid chemical whitening techniques that can irritate your gums if they are already somewhat tender from your existing condition.
Furthermore, if you have tooth-coloured fillings, crowns, caps or bonding in your front teeth, then bleaching might not be a good option for you, as the bleach will not change the colour of these materials – making them stand out in your newly whitened smile. This is certainly not something that you would want after investing valuable time and money towards trying to achieve an amazing new gleaming white smile!
Apart from these general rules that apply that tend to only affect a small percentage of people, it’s likely that if you dream of whiter teeth and a more amazing smile, than there shouldn’t be any significant issues or problems that stand in your way.
Teeth Whitening is one of those areas of dentistry where there tends to be a viable solution open to most people – so chances are a suitable treatment can be found for you and you can achieve the whiter smile that you are seeking without any significant problems along the way.
Want to learn more reasons why people often choose to have teeth whitening and how it can help? Then be sure to read another blog post of ours covering ‘Eight Reasons For Tooth Whitening’.
What are the causes of discoloured teeth?
The truth is that our teeth naturally become increasingly more discoloured as we age, as there are a number of common activities that people often carry out regularly that contribute significantly to teeth becoming more and more discoloured.
There are certain things that we know have a major effect on the colour of your teeth over time, these include the following:
- Drinking Red Wine
- Drinking Tea & Coffee
- Drinking Dark-Coloured Sodas
- Eating Dark Coloured Fruits
How does Teeth Whitening work?
There are fundamentally two different ways in which teeth whitening is commonly done; namely bleaching and non-bleaching whitening products.
Let’s run-through a brief description of both of these methods now, along with some information on the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
Bleaching products contain peroxide (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) and these products remove both surface and deep stains on teeth and can cause teeth to become even lighter than their natural shade.
Hydrogen peroxide is the actual bleaching agent, while carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. The bleaching products you can get from a dentist are much stronger than those purchased over-the-counter. Whiteners used by dentists may have as much as 35% to 45% peroxide, while the store-bought whitening kits such as whitening strips or trays usually have just 7% peroxide. Other ingredients in both dentist-dispensed and OTC whiteners include glycerin, carbopol, sodium hydroxide, and flavourings.
The whitening gels that most dental professionals use for this form of treatment often also have a buffer that will help to protect your tooth enamel from damage.
The great thing about opting for this form of teeth whitening is that you’re likely to see quick results that are also likely to be longer-lasting too – unlike other teeth whitening methods, professional teeth bleaching can result in whiter teeth for upwards of a year before you require a further treatment.
Note that this timescale can be affected by your specific smoking or drinking habits though, or how much you consume other types of items that also cause staining of your teeth (see previous chapter entitled ‘What are the causes of discoloured teeth?’ for a rundown of the worst offenders in this area!).
Home-based bleaching kits are available that typically contain a range of products, some of which contain bleach – including whitening trays, whitening strips and various rinses and toothpastes.
If you would like more information specifically on Teeth Whitening Gel and how it works, then be sure to have a read of another blog post that we have that deals specifically with this and how teeth whitening gel works.
There are also a range of products that do not contain bleach that you can use to try and whiten your teeth.
For example, whitening toothpastes are available which you use at home and they contain mild abrasives such as silica, aluminum oxide, calcium carbonate, and baking soda. These active ingredients can help to remove surface stains.
Note though that because whitening toothpastes do not contain bleach like professional and stronger whitening products, they do not help with the removal of deep-set stains. For this reason, if you have more significant staining and discolouring, then you will probably need to opt for something stronger that can effectively tackle the issue that you have.
Whitening toothpastes usually contain extra polishing or chemical agents that can help remove less severe surface stains.
Note too though that whitening toothpastes can also be more abrasive towards your teeth than alternative methods of whitening, so that’s also something to bear in mind. You don’t want to opt for cheaper methods of whitening only to end up with damaged teeth that might cause you a multitude of problems further down the line.
Typically, whitening toothpastes can only get your teeth about one shade lighter than they are now. So think about whether this would be enough for you – if not, then you probably need to go for a more advanced treatment that has more power to make your teeth at least 2 or more shades lighter, as required.
Home Remedies for Whiter Teeth
When it comes to non-bleaching teeth whitening, there are also a range of home remedies that have been touted over the years as helping to whiten your teeth and remove staining.
These include all sorts of bizarre concoctions such as baking soda mixed with lemon juice, strawberries which are considered to contain both astringents that remove stains and vitamin C that may remove plaque. Sugarless gum helps stimulate saliva to wash teeth and neutralize acids in foods.
These are all considered “home remedies” to get whiter teeth, but do bear in mind of course that the affect that these kinds of remedies have is likely to only be minimal compared to much stronger and more professional treatments that you can have done at your dentist.
You can try them, but for serious results it’s best to head straight to your local dental professional to have a consultation regarding some of the more effective methods that you have at your disposal.
Further information is available on our blog examining how Teeth Whitening works, for example you can have a read of our post ‘How Does Teeth Whitening Work?’ for additional information on this specific area of Teeth Whitening.
What’s the Teeth Whitening process?
If you are currently thinking about embarking on a teeth whitening programme, then it’s important that you know the rough procedures that are going to make up your treatment and their associated timescales.
You’ve already got a feel in the earlier sections of this eBook for how there are a wide variety of different treatments available, and the work required for each and the duration of the treatment required can vary considerably from one option to another.
Obviously very basic treatments such as purchasing and using whitening toothpaste or a home whitening kit can be started more or less immediately and can be carried out on an ongoing basis, but what about more advanced and sophisticated treatments?
You have some options here too. You can decide to just opt for home treatment and it’s possible to get some very good results with this form of whitening treatment.
You also have the option, if you need more in-depth or thorough treatment, for a combination of in-home and in-surgery treatment, and if this is required then it’s typical for several visits to your dental professional to be included over the course of 2-3 months, as part of this more advanced package.
If you decide to opt for professional treatment at a dental practice involving multiple sessions of treatment over a period of weeks, then the first thing that the dentist will do is take an impression of your teeth to make a mouthguard and tell you how to use it with a bleaching gel.
Then, using your mouthguard at home, you will have to regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time, usually over about 2 to 8 weeks.
Some whitening gels can be left on for up to 8 hours at a time, which shortens the treatment period to 1 week, so this is another option that you can discuss and explore with your dental professional to see if it’s the right one for you. So in summary, depending on what you need and which option is best for you, you’ll be looking at undergoing treatment for anything from a single 30-min session to about 2-3 months of regular weekly sessions. It’s all dependent on specifically what you need to get your teeth gleaming white and obtain that perfect smile that you’re aiming for!
What kind of results can I expect?
It’s important that if you are thinking about embarking on a course of Teeth Whitening treatment, that you have a good understanding about exactly what can and can’t be done, so you know what to expect and are realistic about the kind of results that can be achieved.
Depending on the specific state of your teeth right now, and the time, money and resources you are willing to invest in getting whiter teeth, a variety of different results will be possible for you that will achieve different levels of ‘shades’ in terms of the whiteness of your teeth.
Whilst there isn’t a single standard in the dental system that measures and determines the exact colour of your teeth, you can use dental shade guides to start to get an accurate idea of exactly what shade you want and what can be achieved – then your dental professional will be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done to achieve your desired shade and how long it is likely to take.
This can give you a starting point if you want to see how much whiter your teeth can become using various solutions, like different toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwashes, home whitening solutions and or professional dental treatment for whitening at a practice.
You can also start a whitening treatment with your dentist and after each treatment you can compare your teeth colour with the shade guide used, which gives you a handy, structured way of measuring your progress and results.
Bear in mind though that the final results and ‘shade’ you are capable of achieving through treatment can be to some extent determined by the natural shade of the your teeth to start with, which takes into account your natural disposition to staining and any habits and behaviours that you have indulged in over the years that are known to increase staining and discolouration of your teeth.
Ultimately, the results that you obtain from teeth whitening will be in a large part down to the format of treatment that you opt for. Like most things in life, if you go for one of the least expensive options, then it stands to reason that you can’t expect the results to be all that spectacular – whereas if you invest a greater amount of time and money into professional treatment under the expert guidance of a dental professional – you can expect much better results.
Is Teeth Whitening bad for my teeth?
If you’re reading this then we presume that you are most definitely interested in getting whiter teeth and how it can be done, but you may have at least some reservations about the teeth whitening process and exactly how safe it is.
Especially when it comes to treatments that involve the bleaching of teeth, people can be unsure about what, if any, damage can occur during the treatment process, so in this section we will run through the key information regarding the safety of whitening so that you have all the information that you need in this area.
The first and perhaps most important thing to mention in this area, is that provided you get your teeth whitening carried out by a fully trained, qualified and experienced dental professional, the products used during the treatment will all have been fully tested and approved rigorously prior to being made available for the teeth whitening treatment process.
This ensures that all these products are as safe as possible and that the likelihood of them causing any significant damage or issues with your teeth is an absolute minimum.
Having said that, there are sometimes some side-effects that you should be aware of that can occur during the teeth whitening treatment process.
There are three primary areas where side-effects are most likely to occur, namely the gums, the teeth themselves, and dental restorations.
For example, if bleach touches your gums, it’s possible in some instances that an irritation can develop, and another side-effect can be tooth sensitivity – if you already suffer from this prior to your whitening treatment, then it’s possible that the process could aggravate it somewhat.
The British Dental Association (BDA) says whitening is perfectly safe if carried out by a registered dental professional. But the BDA warns anyone else won’t have the right training or knowledge and could cause permanent damage to your teeth and gums. For example, if the mouthguard containing the bleaching gel does not fit properly some of it may leak and cause painful chemical burns. In extreme cases, people have been sick after swallowing the bleaching product.
The BDA says beauticians aren’t properly trained to take a medical history to make sure someone is suitable for teeth whitening.
The golden rule here then is clear: if you want to be safe and ensure no significant damage is done to your teeth, then make sure you get your whitening done by a fully trained dental professional, who has the required specialist training and knowledge to ensure you remain safe and healthy at all times.
We have some more information available on the specific subject of how safe Teeth Whitening is that you might want to read through. We have a specific post examining whether Teeth Whitening can lead to cracking in your teeth which you might want to have a look at if you would like more information in this area.
Types of Teeth Whitening Products Available
We mentioned earlier on in this post that teeth whitening has now become big business and that there are now masses of teeth whitening products available to you on the market. But what are these options, and how do they stack up against each other?
That’s the question that we’re going to help you with in this section of the eBook, so let’s jump in and start looking at the key information regarding the various types of products available.
Whitening Toothpastes and Rinses
Toothpastes can contain mild abrasives (gentle polishing agents) to facilitate the removal of stains on the outer surfaces of the teeth while brushing. A mouth rinse can contain hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), to help whiten your teeth while you freshen your breath at the same time. These products can be used daily, especially after meals that cause staining to occur. Initial results can be seen in as little as a few days.
Chewing Gum and Whitening Strips
Certain types of whitening chewing gum can be used daily to help remove food residue after eating. Chewing gum stimulates saliva which can help to moisturise the mouth. The chewing gum whiteners actually coat the teeth to prevent staining so it can be used frequently. Whitening strips, on the other hand, are small plastic strips with a peroxide-gel side that you apply to the outer surface of your teeth, which can also help to facilitate a whitening effect. The strips can be used up to 30 minutes a day for maximum results.
Tray-Based Teeth Whiteners
This product is mostly sold in OTC kits that involve the use of a mouthguard-like tray with a gel-based whitening solution with peroxide-based bleaching agents. Your dentist can provide you with a custom take-home whitening kit to improve the whiteness of your teeth. Impressions are initially taken of the teeth and then your tray is made to fit your mouth. Because it’s meant for at-home treatment, these trays have a lower concentration of peroxide than that available from an in-office procedure. These trays can be used once-a-day, with each session lasting from an average of 30-60 minutes, for up to two weeks.
Dental Practice Whitening Treatment
Dental whitening treatment taking place in a proper practice consists of a single visit that can achieve results in less than an hour. First, a protective coating is placed on the gum tissue and lips. Next, the whitening gel is applied to the teeth. Then, an ultraviolet lamp is shined onto the teeth to activate the ingredient in the gel. This process usually features a higher concentration of bleaching gel, and this type of treatment can yield results that are visible immediately. This is a fantastic option if you want quick and powerful results that are likely to get you the most effective level of teeth whitening available.
How much does Teeth Whitening Cost?
In this section we’re going to look at how much the various methods of teeth whitening cost, and what you’re likely to get for your money depending on which of the options you go for.
The first thing to mention here though is that as with anything in life, the very cheapest options are unlikely to be the best choice for you in the long run, as it is generally accepted within the dental industry that most, if not all, of the very cheap teeth whitening options are ineffective at best, and at worst just plain don’t work at all or even possibly unsafe for you to use!
So you could end up wasting valuable time, effort and money trying many of the really cheap products in this area, and realistically achieve nothing or even damage your teeth permanently.
So let’s run through some figures regarding the likely costs of various teeth whitening options, with some support information to help you to decide which is likely to be right for you.
So as a very general overview to start with, at the bottom of the scale you can pick up a tube of whitening toothpaste for just a few pounds, then at the other end of the whitening scale, you can opt for laser whitening treatment that can easily set you back multiple thousands of pounds.
The other general thing to consider when discussing costs, is that home treatment will be cheaper than professional teeth whitening services taking place in a proper dental practice with a fully-qualified dental professional, but of course with home kits you don’t get any of the personalised advice, guidance and attention of a dental professional to help you to achieve the best possible results.
Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the various options so you can see clearly how much the available treatments and associated costs vary.
Is professional teeth whitening better than other options?
One thing that should be clear to you now is that there are a wide range of options now available when thinking about teeth whitening treatment, and that they are far from all being equal. Some are significantly more effective overall, whilst others are likely to have very little real effect and can also possibly be dangerous if the products used in the treatment have not been fully testing and approved by dental industry regulators.
So this raises the obvious question – is it better to just skip over the myriad of DIY and at-home treatments that have come onto the market in recent years, and go straight to a fully trained and regulated dental practice that can offer you as much specialist advice and guidance as you need?
Certainly whilst the cost of these DIY treatments can seem very tempting and offer to save you time and money, you clearly need to proceed with caution regarding these at-home options and make sure you know exactly what you are getting into before thinking seriously about using them.
But there are some simple facts that should quickly help you to decide whether at-home or professional treatment is going to be the right way to go for you – the good news is that there are some very clear distinctions between the two methods and this means that depending on exactly the results you are going for – once you understand the key differences then the choice should be a fairly simple one for you.
Certainly one of the major considerations is the fact is that due to things like regulatory controls, at-home whitening products have lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, meaning they are always going to be very unlikely to offer the same degree of shade changes that you get from professional whiteners that can be utilised during professional treatment at a practice.
The other really key factor that will inevitably be factored into your equation when making this decision is of course a comparision of the cost.
We’ve put together a handy chart which visually summarises the various comparisons for you, you can view this on our main Teeth Whitening page.
If you’d like more information that looks at why you might want to consider looking at teeth whitening that is carried out under the guidance and supervision of a fully trained and qualified dental professional, then we have another blog post you should read specifically on this subject, entitled ‘Why Teeth Whitening Can Only Be Carried Out By Dentists’. Have a read if you want to learn more about this.
Further information is also available on this specific aspect of teeth whitening in another blog post of ours that also looks at reasons why you might be better consulting a dental professional for teeth whitening.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post and have found the content educational, informative and useful in terms of helping you to make the right decision about Teeth Whitening.
As you can see, there are lots of different options available and so it’s important to have all the right information and guidance at your disposal when attempting to decide the best option for you.
Teeth Whitening is continuing to grow ever more popular both within the UK and all over the world now, as more and more people discover that it’s a fantastic way to get your teeth and smile looking better than ever, and it needn’t be overly costly or time-consuming these days with the modern technology and innovation that has taken place within this area of dentistry.
What’s more, it can also be proven to have a really positive and long-lasting effect on your self-confidence and self-esteem that can ultimately lead to a better and more fulfilling life for patients that we have treated – having a better smile that they can feel confident about can often make them much more comfortable with their overall physical appearance and place them more at ease in all kinds of social situations.
This can only be a good thing and so we would encourage others to actively go ahead with the right form of whitening treatment for them if staining and discolouring on your teeth is currently causing you these kinds of issues.
Lastly, we’ve seen how some methods of treatment are less likely than others to cause any significant damage to your teeth and can in many cases achieve much better results. So stay safe and make sure that you opt for a safe and reliable treatment that adheres to all the current regulations and industry guidelines.
Good luck on your teeth whitening journey!