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Written by Kate Thompson Last updated: January 27, 2016
Thinking of improving your pearly whites? Now is the perfect time to brighten your smile for all those everlasting wedding photos. Here’s the low down on teeth whitening options you can do at home, with some important advice from the experts.
Everyone’s doing it these days and a bright smile does look amazing but how do teeth whiteners actually work? To put it simply – there are stain removers and teeth whiteners, and several different ways you can make your smile brighter. Results can vary, but a dazzlingly Hollywood white smile is achievable.
Best results will be achieved through a whitening kit created by your dentist for you to use at home, so you don’t need to spend hours in the chair. The gentle but effective whitening gel works by releasing oxygen into the structure of the teeth which breaks down the bonds of the discoloured molecules. Results can be seen within a week, and teeth can be made lighter still over 4 weeks. Dentists agree that this gentle and gradual way of lightening teeth is what’s best for your teeth and gums.
Maypole Dental offers guaranteed tooth whitening, with results that are 3-4 shades lighter. The professional home whitening kit is created by them with a mould or impression of your teeth taken with dental putty. From this impression their dental nurses create a plaster model which in turn is used to create tooth whitening trays. These trays are then filled with tooth whitening gel and worn, usually over night, until the desired effect has been reached.
If you don’t want to go to the dentist, there are plenty of teeth whitening products in your local chemist and supermarket and they vary dramatically in price, ingredients and results. Many contain a kit with a brightening serum and activator which are then brushed off with an included toothbrush and polish. Although some claim to produce ‘up to 5 shades whiter or more’, most high street kits are formulated at a much lower strength to the ones available from the dentist’s surgery so results tend to be better with professional treatments. Others include a lamp that is used to accelerate the whitening treatment though this can take up to 20 treatments when using it for the recommended 20 minutes per day.
If a teeth whitening kit, with its serums and activators, all seems a bit too much bother, there are several whitening toothpastes available on the high street and online. While the cheaper versions may contain a mild abrasive such as baking soda or a small amount of peroxide bleach, the higher priced products use a multi-whitening effect to help restore teeth to their natural whiteness and help to prevent tooth sensitivity with fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
Matthew Lloyd , dentist and co-founder of WhiteWash Laboratories explains: “Whitening toothpastes work by removing and preventing the build-up of surface stains, helping to restore teeth back to their natural whiteness.”
There are a few natural ingredients said to whiten teeth, including strawberries, banana peel, apples, carrots, bay leaves, orange peel, lemon juice, celery and turmeric, although that last one will stain your toothbrush yellow! Swishing oil through your teeth for 20 minutes each morning (known as oil pulling) is said to remove bacteria and help prevent stains but according to dentists, will not actually lighten the colour of your teeth.
Baking soda is another well-known stain remover and the agent used in some whitening toothpastes but be warned that brushing too firmly with anything abrasive such as salt or baking soda and using any kind of acids or hydrogen peroxide can damage tooth enamel and actually leave you with darker looking and more sensitive teeth that need more care in the long run.
Teeth whitening is thought to be safe but as with most cosmetic treatments there are some risks that you should be aware of. There is a chance of increased sensitivity, particularly if you already suffer from sensitive teeth and some home whitening kits can harm tooth enamel but the higher quality whitening treatments should not cause any damage to teeth.
Results can vary between treatments as some home kits available on the high street claim to produce results within days but the dentists I spoke to recommend using a gentle treatment over a longer period of time rather than a harsh treatment in a short period of time. Results can take anything from 1-4 weeks so it’s best to start at least a month before your wedding date.
Teeth whitening may not be possible if you have gum disease or crowns. It is also not permanent so try to avoid drinking too much coffee and red wine after having a whitening treatment. Some teeth whitening kits sold through online beauty outlets that are not regulated, could cause harm to your teeth or gums and you may have no comeback if you were to have a reaction, so we recommend going through a dentist for advice before trying any non-prescribed treatment.
For more expert information on teeth whitening please consult Tooth Whitening and Smile Makeovers or contact your local dentist for further advice.