There are many myths about teeth whitening and so it is hard to get the truth and scientific facts behind this popular treatment. Here Dr Imogen sets the record straight and gives you her key facts about teeth whitening.
1. 1 hour laser whitening is redundant
In 2012 new European guidelines were introduced which limited the maximum concentration of hydrogen peroxide teeth bleach to 6% and Carbamide peroxide to 16% instead of 35%. This dramatically impacted how dentists whitened teeth because it meant that the 1 hour laser whitening systems no longer worked as effectively so people were not happy with the final shade, often had to go back for numerous ‘1 hour treatments’ and the results faded very quickly. This is why most dentists now offer a home whitening kit like the White Swan whitening kit or offer a combination of home and clinic whitening like the White Swan ultimate whitening. This is where the dentist takes a mould of your teeth, produces precision fit trays and gives you the bleach to use in them at home. Unfortunately, for people who bought expensive laser whitening machines, they have become nearly redundant.
2. It takes 14 days to whiten your teeth
Most people will need to do home whitening continuously for a two-week course to get the required results. Some people are happy after only one week and therefore can stop and use the remaining bleach as a ‘top up’ and others with very dark, stained teeth may need to carry out bleaching for 4 weeks. As you age your teeth get less porous and the inner tooth dentine gets thicker and denser so over 60’s may also need to bleach for longer. This is something that the dentist can assess at the time of whitening and warn you about prior to starting. With White Swan ultimate whitening you get a guarantee so that if you do not reach shade B1 (the whitest natural shade) then you can get more treatment for free.
3. It can be done overnight or for an hour each day
The most reliable way to do home whitening is to use your whitening trays overnight because you can use the more gentle Carbamide peroxide bleach over a longer time period, which is usually less sensitive and very effective. However, if you could not tolerate this then the other option is to use hydrogen peroxide for 1 hour a day which is a more intense bleach but still gives great results. You have the choice with White Swan whitening and so can decide which one is best for you.
4. Teeth whitening will not damage your teeth
Teeth appear yellow because the two natural parts of your tooth – enamel on the outside and dentine in the middle can build up staining inside and outside the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide can easily soak into the tooth and separate all the clumps of staining so that teeth are whiter. Bleaching does not damage any part of your tooth and it is in fact one of the safest and most conservative things you can do to improve the appearance of your smile.
5. It can protect against decay
There is evidence that teeth bleaching can actually help ward off dental decay. This is because bleach is alkaline and therefore kills some of the bacteria in your mouth that cause decay. Hydrogen peroxide also helps remove plaque from the teeth. Plaque, if left on the teeth, will cause them to rot.
6. Teeth whitening must be done by a dentist but it doesn’t have to be done in a dental surgery
White Swan Aesthetics prides itself on placing fully qualified dentists salons to carry out procedures such as teeth whitening, anti-wrinkle injections (commonly called ‘botox’) and dermal fillers. The General Dental Council and the dental insurance companies have specifically advised that as long as all the clinicians are fully qualified dentists then we can carry out these procedures in salons and spas with their approval. We always ensure that infection control is just as stringent as in a dental practice and that the service being received is the gold standard in patient care, just in a more pleasant and relaxing salon environment.
7. Your teeth can’t look too white
When you see celebrities with shocking white teeth that look unnatural these are most probably because they have veneers or caps which are made of porcelain and therefore they can be made in a colour which is whiter than natural teeth could ever be. Peroxide teeth bleaching can only ever make your teeth the whitest shade they can naturally be which is vita shade B1. With the White Swan Ultimate Whitening you get a guarantee so that if you do not reach the magic shade B1 by the end of treatment then they will give you more bleach for free until you do!
8. Teeth whitening can last forever
Once you have your personalised bleaching trays made then all you have to do to stay at your perfect shade B1 is to follow the White Swan top up programme. This consists of one night of whitening in the first two months, then one night in the following 3 months and then you can simply do one night every 4-6 months from then on and your teeth should never discolour back to how there were again.
9. You can still eat and drink as normal
With the Enlighten whitening system, which is the system used in the White Swan Ultimate Whitening, they specifically say that you do not need to change your lifestyle in any way and you will still get to that lovely white B1 shade. Therefore you can eat, drink and be merry!
10. You can continue smoking
Yes we all know that smoking is bad for both general health, the gums and the teeth but in terms of whitening, hydrogen peroxide bleach will still be effective even if you continue to smoke. Again with the Ultimate Whitening, you still get your B1 guarantee, regardless of your smoking status.
11. Your crowns (caps) and fillings will not change colour
Peroxide teeth bleach will not change the colour of old crowns or fillings. What dentists recommend is to carry out your teeth bleaching first and then to consider changing your old caps and fillings to match your new white shade.
12. It doesn’t have to be sensitive
Lots of people are concerned that their teeth will become sensitive. Yes, this can happen but mostly it was a problem when really strong bleach was used as part of the ‘one hour laser whitening’ procedure rather than the more gradual and effective home whitening procedures. Dentists have lots of tricks up their sleeve to reduce sensitivity and actually a simple Sensodyne toothpaste can work wonders if used two weeks before whitening, during whitening and for two weeks afterwards. The White Swan Ultimate Whitening comes with specially swabs which really ease any sensitivity and as soon as the whitening treatment comes to an end, the teeth will go back to feeling normal again.
13. It will work on teeth stained by medication or after root canal treatment
Teeth can go very dark after they have been injured through trauma or after having a root canal treatment (the nerve of the tooth removed). This can be particularly distressing if it is a front tooth. Some people are also born with genetic staining on their teeth or took medication as a child which discoloured the teeth. Teeth Whitening will help improve the appearance of all of these problems, although you may require 4 weeks of home whitening, rather than the normal 2 weeks. In rare occasions, the staining cannot be completely eliminated but the teeth are in a much better position to have a white filling or veneer and you will get a much more aesthetic result without the previously dark staining shining through.
14. It will work best after a hygienist clean
If you want your teeth and gums to be the healthiest that they can be then a hygienist clean every 6 months is highly recommended. Plaque, bugs and tartar build up on the teeth, even if you clean your teeth meticulously. Making sure your teeth are free from tartar before whitening will mean that the bleach can reach every surface of the teeth.