Teeth whitening is one of the most popular and widely accepted ways to improve someone’s appearance in today’s ever snowballing cosmetic industry. Regardless of age, gender or occupation, people are becoming more and more fixated on achieving that ‘perfect Hollywood smile”. With so many different types of teeth whitening treatments available and even more myths surrounding them, it can feel like a bit of a minefield. We talk to Dr Imogen, a dentist with a special interest in cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics, to set the record straight.
Why do teeth go yellow?
There are lots of reasons why teeth discolour – diet, tartar, genetics or if the outer surface of enamel is lost because of drinking or eating lots of acidic things. Teeth also become more yellow with age and this is why teeth whitening can have such a big anti-aging impact.
What are the most common home methods for teeth whitening?
I have seen it all, from the weird and wonderful methods like rubbing coal onto teeth to the more common methods which are whitening toothpastes or strips. Legally, the toothpastes and strips cannot contain any actual bleach so although they can remove staining and improve the shade, they will always have their limitations and will not have the same dramatic effects that professional teeth whitening by a dentist will have. Steer clear of rubbing baking soda or lemon into your teeth as this combination is both abrasive and acidic which will actually remove the top layer of your teeth, weakening them and making them more yellow!
Another popular choice is coconut oil, many of my patients swear by this for dental pain, as well as improving the colour. There is no strong evidence to support either of these claims and no proper research has been done to investigate the possible harm it may cause.
What professional methods of teeth whitening are available?
A Professional teeth whitening by a dentist is the only method which will contain peroxide bleach, which is the key ingredient that improves the colour of teeth. There are two main methods of dentist whitening – home bleaching or ‘1 hour laser whitening’.
One of the biggest misconceptions about teeth whitening at the moment is that ‘1 hour laser whitening’ is the best and quickest way to brighten your smile. However, what people do not realise is that the legal limit of bleach that can be used by a dentist reduced from 35% to 6% hydrogen peroxide in 2012. This means that the quick 1-hour whitening procedures are no longer very effective and the results fade quickly. Therefore, despite all the apparently cheap deals on Groupon or other similar discount websites you may find yourself shelling our for numerous courses of ‘1 hour whitening’ treatments and not finding the results satisfactory or long-lasting. The most effective way to whiten teeth is with home whitening kits produced by a dentist. Although the initial cost will be more (ranging from £200-£500 on average), the results will be much better and you will be able to maintain the results with ‘top up’ bleach syringes cheaply and easily
Can anyone have professional teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening by a dentist, is one of the safest ways to dramatically improve the appearance of your smile but there are a few people who may not be suitable for the treatment. The main reasons why teeth whitening is not recommended is when there is gum disease, decay, or white fillings / caps at the front of the mouth. White fillings and crowns will not change colour and so they may need changing after the teeth bleaching to match the new improved shade of the teeth.
Dr Imogen is a fully practicing dentist at the prestigious Guys and St Thomas hospital and also runs a successful facial aesthetics company, White Swan Aesthetics. White Swan Aesthetics offers non-surgical procedures including Botox, dermal fillers and teeth whitening by doctors and dentists in beauty clinics across London and the Home Counties.
Imogen and the Lifestyle Library both believe in empowering people to make informed and safe choices about cosmetic enhancements. Clients deserve to feel safe in the knowledge that they are getting the best products on the market by highly skilled and caring practitioners.
Please feel free to contact Dr Imogen with any questions or to book in to see her for a free consultation.