Why you Shouldn't Whiten your Teeth at Home
Teeth Whitening for a Brilliant Smile
Many of us covet the perfect smile - but what does that mean to you? A picture-perfect smile usually reveals straight, clean teeth that are gleaming white. Not Love-Island-contestant blinding, but stain-free and bright. Most people are not blessed with naturally gleaming white teeth and years of red wine and coffee or tea drinking can dull the natural pearliness of our gnashers.
If you’re looking to brighten your smile, it can be tempting to try at-home remedies that promise pearly whites in a few weeks or cheaper treatments at salons and other aesthetics establishments like beauticians. BUT HOLD ON! Tooth whitening can permanently alter the structure of your teeth so should only be undertaken by a registered dental practitioner and on their prescription.
Tooth whitening is a dentistry practice and can only be carried out safely by dental professionals registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). You can check whether a practice or professional is registered at www.gdc-uk.org. You should always be assessed by a dentist before starting a tooth whitening programme to check whether treatment is appropriate for you. Registered dental hygienists, dental therapists and clinical dental technicians can also carry out tooth whitening on the instructions of a dentist. No other types of dental professional can safely offer this treatment. Anyone that is not registered with the GDC and is selling tooth whitening treatments is breaking the law.
During your assessment for tooth whitening, the dentist should explain the costs and risks of this treatment. The national news has recently been abuzz with reports of home teeth-whitening kits being sold that contain dangerous levels of bleaching chemicals, causing tooth loss. A Which? survey found a kit that had 300 times the recommended amount of hydrogen peroxide, at 30.7%. Dr Paul Woodhouse, a director of the British Dental Association, warned:
"Hydrogen peroxide is a seriously strong chemical and not to be messed with. Dentists are trained in its usage and they also know what whitening products are effective to use and safe for teeth and gums. If you destroy gum tissue, you are never going to get it back and you lose your teeth. If it penetrates the surface of your tooth, which is likely, it's probably going to lead to the death of that tooth."
Conversely, some home kits do not contain enough whitening product to be effective, leading to a disappointing result.
Teeth whitening does involve bleaching your teeth, but when done correctly by a dentist, this will be applied over several visits. The procedure is not usually available on the NHS, unless there is a medical reason for it - it is usually considered a cosmetic treatment.
During your assessment with a dentist, ask plenty of questions such as the risks, the type of result you can realistically expect to achieve and if the work is guaranteed for a period of time. Teeth whitening isn’t permanent – it can last from a few months to up to three years, with the results varying from person to person. The effect won’t last as long if you smoke, or drink lots of red wine, tea or coffee – all of which can stain your teeth.
No matter what treatment you use, there is a chance your gums will be sensitive to the chemicals in whitening treatments. There’s also a chance of burns to your gums and at-home whitening kits can harm tooth enamel. If your teeth need a little lift in shade, there are more gentle treatments available such as Be You’s fabulous Whitening Taster Set. These tubes of joy contain hydroxylapatite and glucose oxidase, along with natural ingredients, to ensure an enzymatic whitening effect that’s gentle on your teeth. The six amazing flavours will spice up your summer and provide gentle everyday whitening.
So a bright, white smile could be the look you’re sporting this summer – but be sure you’re undertaking any whitening treatment safely under the supervision of your dentist, being aware of the risks and doing your research before starting.