We in Britain are proud of our natural-looking teeth. Just compare us to some of our friends over the pond, who have teeth so white they risk road accidents by dazzling incoming traffic. Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures in the good ol’ US of A, but more and more of us in the UK are choosing to get our teeth whitened too. So what do you need to know about teeth whitening?
Searching for whitening home remedies in Google brings up a plethora of ideas, ranging from the plausible (stop smoking) to the not-so-plausible (brush your teeth with a banana peel). Meanwhile supermarket shelves heave with toothpastes claiming to whiten your teeth, but try one at home and you’ll find they’ll only brighten them a shade or two at most. Even mouthwashes are getting in on the act, claiming they can restore your teeth’s natural colour – even though in reality they only remove the most superficial of stains.
Here’s the truth about teeth whitening: the real, most effective solution is whitening at your dentist. That’s not the same bleach as under your sink, mind you. We’re talking about dental bleach here. And the best place to start a whitening treatment is in the care of a professional – your dentist.
Teeth whitening in Birmingham can take as little as an hour, thanks to the futuristic technology of ‘laser whitening’. Here, the dentist paints bleach onto your teeth and then shines a laser on them to activate the whitening effect.
A cheaper but much longer method is to wear a mouth guard filled with a whitening gel. The guard must be worn for a few hours every day for several weeks. A trained dental professional should make the mouth guard to ensure it fits properly.
Also, you’ll need to consider that teeth whitening is only temporary. You’ll have to whiten them again after a few months or years as the effect wears off. You can make the whitening last longer by limiting your coffee, tea and red wine intake, as these will all stain your teeth. Also, keep in mind that teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure. It won’t work on false teeth, fillings, veneers or crowns.
Teeth whitening isn’t available on the NHS because it’s a cosmetic treatment, so you’ll need a private dentist instead. Some beauty salons offer to whiten teeth, but in Britain this practise is illegal, because dental professionals are the only people licensed to do it. This is because the procedure can be dangerous if done improperly: an unqualified practitioner can damage your tooth enamel or even burn your gums with the bleach.
You can also find DIY kits on the internet to whiten your teeth at home, but the NHS doesn’t recommend these either. For one thing, the provided mouth guard might not fit properly, causing bleach to leak into your mouth. So you should always seek a dental professional if you want your teeth whitened, because they understand how to do it properly and safely.