What should I know?

Celebrities and patients alike have all experienced how effective tooth whitening can be and it is one of the most popular specialities with consumers today. But what exactly is tooth whitening, what is involved and is it suitable for all?

Tooth colour is a very individual thing: it can darken as we get older and is affected by food and drinks like tea, coffee, red wine and smoking. We know that discoloured teeth can appear very aging. Whitening can be a really effective way to lighten your teeth by a number of shades. The results are dependent on your own base tooth colour and the time you are prepared to spend with the lightening gel in contact with your tooth surface. Whitening will alter the colour of your natural tooth enamel but does not alter the colour of existing fillings, crowns, veneers or bridges.

There are a number of different treatments available which aim to place the active ingredient, usually carbamide peroxide, in contact with your tooth surface. They range from whitening strips to in the dental chair “laser” power whitening. The peroxide material penetrates the tooth enamel and gradually removes the stains providing a very long lasting change.

At the Chiltern Avenue Dental Practice we recommend the following whitening treatments.

  • Home whitening
  • In-Chair “Laser” power whitening
  • A combination of home and In-Chair whitening.

Home whitening requires prefabricated or custom made tooth shields or trays which can be placed over the upper and lower teeth. We show you how to fit the trays and apply the active gel. This treatment will take a few weeks to complete although changes can be seen almost immediately. You continue applying the treatment at home until you achieve the tooth colour you are happy with.

Laser or ‘power whitening’ requires us to first assess your teeth to see if this treatment is suitable for them. Once we have established that the treatment is suitable, we must very carefully isolate the teeth and protect the gums. The gel is then painted on to your teeth and a UV light or “laser” is directed on to them. This activates the chemical and speeds up the whitening reaction. As you can imagine the gel is much stronger than that used in home whitening. The effect is very quick, often lightening the colour of your teeth by about five or six shades in around an hour.

All whitening procedures work. However there are some drawbacks. You will often find that your teeth become sensitive and your gums are irritated by the whitening chemicals. Desensitising gels and mousses are available and can be applied in the custom trays used for the whitening procedure. After a day or two you can recommence with whitening. This sensitivity can delay treatment and mean that the whitening process takes longer than expected so patience and a degree of dedication is required if a good result is to be achieved.

How long the effect of treatment lasts varies: it won’t last as long if you smoke or your teeth come into contact with staining foods and drinks however the overall effect has been shown to last for up to seven years.

Shop-bought whitening kits are cheaper but are not very effective. Legally, over-the-counter products can’t contain more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide but effective concentration needs to be around 3.6%. In addition some products may contain excess abrasive, which could damage teeth and gums. Whitening toothpastes will remove stains but won’t lighten the shade of your tooth colour although they can help with making your professional whitening last longer.

Call us on 020 8950 2664 or ask at the practice to arrange a whitening consultation.

Contact Details

For further information on any of the services featured on the site or to arrange a consultation please call us on 020 8950 2664, use the contact form below or write to us at:

Chiltern Avenue Dental Practice 32 Chiltern Avenue, Bushey, Hertfordshire. WD23 4QB Tel: 020 8950 2664

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