Reasons for whitening your teeth
Our teeth can become naturally discoloured as we get older. They can also be stained by strong food and drinks, and particularly by cigarette smoke. Tartar build-up can also discolour your teeth.
Methods of tooth whitening
The most common form of tooth whitening is bleaching. If this treatment is suitable for you (your dentist will advise you), a rubber shield or gel is applied to your gums in order to protect them. Then the bleaching product (normally hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) is applied to the teeth using a specially fitted tray. The bleach works by releasing oxygen into the enamel of the teeth, lightening the colour of the tooth. This treatment will involve several visits. On the first visit, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth in order to make the tray. After your dentist has started the treatment, you can continue the bleaching treatment at home over the next three to four weeks.
Laser whitening, also known as power whitening, can be used to whiten teeth more quickly. Your dentist puts a rubber shield over the gums to protect them, then paints a bleaching product onto the teeth.
A laser or light is shone onto the teeth to speed up the chemical reaction of the product, and the whole process takes about an hour.
Caring for whitened teeth
Whitened teeth should be looked after in the same way as normal teeth, by brushing properly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, having regular check-ups with your dentist, and avoiding food and drinks which will cause further staining to your teeth. Tea, coffee, blackcurrant juice or squash, and red wine are particularly likely to cause discolouration of your teeth.
Tooth whitening is also featured in the cosmetic dentistry section of this website.