With options from £30 to £300, how do you find the relevant teeth whitening solution for you to achieve that white and healthy smile you've always wanted to have? The Smileo team investigates and puts together the most comprehensive guide to teeth whitening available online.
A white smile is considered as one of the signs of happiness, health, and success in our society. It is no surprise that whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments undergone in order to enhance a persons’ looks. Many people choose teeth whitening as a quick, easy and inexpensive way to immediately improve their teeth.
Are you still trying to decide whether or not you should get your teeth whitened? Whilst teeth whitening treatments can be done at your dentist's practice or at home, using different techniques, it is important you fully understand not only how teeth whitening works but also the different whitening options available to you, what results you can expect and for how long, not to mention how much it will cost, before making a decision and going ahead with treatment.
Prior to getting teeth whitening treatment, it is vital you consult your dentist. A complete dental examination establishes whether you are a suitable candidate, if your oral hygiene is adequate and determines the overall health of your teeth and gums. Any condition that could prevent you from getting your teeth whitened needs to be detected prior to starting the process in order to avoid adverse side-effects or long term damage to your teeth post treatment. This is especially true if you have gum recession issues.
This is why we wanted to give you the most extensive and detailed guide to teeth whitening available today. This resource is packed with information about how teeth whitening works, the different teeth whitening methods, advantages and disadvantages of each technique, potential risks or side effects as well as aspects which can impact your daily life such as aftercare instructions and cost – so you can assess whether or not teeth whitening treatment is right for you.
In simple terms, teeth whitening is the process of ‘bleaching’ your teeth (also known as teeth bleaching) to make them look whiter. Unlike popular belief, teeth whitening treatments cannot make your teeth completely white as the natural color of your teeth has to be taken into account, but it can of course make your existing color much lighter.
Whilst there are plenty of marketed whitening techniques, true teeth whitening products all use a bleaching solution of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which breaks down in the mouth into hydrogen peroxide and that is applied to the teeth). The bleaching agent interacts with the coloured organic molecules of the tooth enamel and dentin (dentin is the layer found under the superficial enamel layer that conveys a stained or yellow appearance to your natural teeth). The bleaching solution is left on the teeth anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours, depending on the technique being used, and the bleaching process turns those organic particles colourless. It’s also worth noting that the whitening treatment has best results on yellow and brown stains and it is unfortunately less effective when applied on teeth with grey discolouration. A combination of techniques may be required in order to achieve an optimal final shade and all depend on what colour shade you begin with.
Bonded materials such as, fillings, veneers and crowns cannot be whitened and should be discussed with your dentist prior to going ahead with the treatment, since your natural teeth, when whitened, could look lighter than these and the contrast prove to be unsightly. You and your dentist can decide the right stage to do your whitening treatment if you are having other restorative work done as well.
White, straight smiles are something many of us believe are only reserved for the rich and famous. The popularity of teeth whitening has made it more easily accessible for all of us. From toothpastes and active carbon that promise whiter teeth, bleaching strips and over the counter kits you can do at home or professional teeth whitening laser treatment, the amount of whitening products on the market today are endless. This makes it even more difficult to decide which is the best method and what to go for.
Your teeth are incredibly important, not only for aesthetic reasons but they are essential for chewing your food properly, making the sounds when we speak and of course are one of the first things people will notice about us in social and professional situations. This is why we need to make an informed decision when it comes to whitening our teeth in order to be sure it is safe and the appropriate method for the results you want to achieve.
Although there are limited long term side effects or risks to conventional teeth whitening treatments, when done correctly and in moderation, issues like sensitivity, thinning or translucency of the enamel layer of the teeth and irritation of the gums can occur. Consulting a registered dental professional is very important when choosing the type of whitening method that may be best for your teeth and although whitening is suitable for a vast array of patients, selected treatment is better for certain cases in comparison to others.
Each individual starts off at a different level of discoloration or base shade. Depending on the chosen whitening treatment, the shade can change anywhere from 2-8 shades lighter. There are many things to take into consideration in order to achieve the final shade you desire.
However, certain factors might prevent you from getting your teeth whitened altogether – those include:
As we get older, like many other physical changes our bodies go through, teeth become discolored or stained by food and drink such as coffee, tea, red wine or berries. Plaque or tartare build-up also contribute to the discoloration of teeth, and normal brushing alone is insufficient. It is therefore recommended you visit your hygienist on a regular basis and prior to getting your teeth whitened in order to remove superficial staining, plaque, calculus, tartare and to maintain healthy gums.
With the explosion of social media and the quest to have the perfect selfie, many more people have become aware of how they convey themselves to the World. This only adds to the already extensive pressure felt in the workplace, in social or romantic settings and when bombarded by glamorous celebrities and other successful people in the media.
Some people might also decide to get their teeth whitened after completing their orthodontic treatment with braces in order to enhance their smile as a ‘final touch’ to their straightening treatment.
Others might whiten prior to having dental work such as crowns and veneers in order to match the porcelain to their desired tooth colour.
Overall, anyone wishing to rejuvenate their teeth and enhance their smile, whitening is an easy, fast and affordable option worth considering.
As detailed above, certain factors might prevent you from getting your teeth whitened. If you have undergone extensive restoration work such as porcelain veneers, dental bonding or crowns, especially when on your front teeth, discussing the treatment with your dentist to assess suitability is key.
It is also recommended to get your dentist to do a check-up in order to assess the overall health of your teeth and gums, in order to spot signs of receding gums, existing tooth decay requiring treatment prior to getting your teeth whitened or issues with enamel thickness. Your dentist will also be able to look at eventual tooth discoloration issues and pin-point the root of the problem so as to assess whether or not teeth whitening is an appropriate treatment for you.
Finally tooth sensitivity should not be neglected and if recurring and painful, should be discussed with your dental practitioner to ensure micro-fractures are treated prior to starting treatment, as the bleaching process used to get your teeth whitened would only increase the existing sensitivity.
By the time you are done reading this ultimate guide to teeth whitening, you should have a pretty good understanding of what teeth whitening is, how it works, the different treatments available and how much it is likely to cost. However, it is recommended you discuss all these points with your practitioner as the advancement of technology means new techniques might make it into the market faster than we can update this guide.
When discussing teeth whitening options with your dentist, we recommend you cover the following topics to ensure you get a 360 degree view of the treatment you are about to get:
Once your dentist has answered all these questions and depending on the option chosen, make sure to get a detailed treatment plan from your practice before proceeding further.
Should you decide to take matters into your own hands understand that you are completely responsible for the outcome and any consequences of using over the counter or online products and methods available and should in this case follow manufacturers instructions diligently. In any case, discussing these types of methods with a dental professional is also advisable.
There are an enormous amount of different teeth whitening options currently available in the market and can differ from country to country depending on regulations on who can perform and dispense these with some treatments being more effective, cheaper or faster than others. It is vital you understand the pros and cons of each treatment type in order to make the best possible decision based on your personal circumstances.
One of the most popular procedures available in the UK is Zoom Whitening by PHILIPS, also known as Zoom WhiteSpeed or ‘laser whitening’. It's an in-surgery teeth whitening treatment that uses hydrogen peroxide and LED light activation to whiten your teeth up to 10 shades.
The procedure is performed by your dentist and takes about an hour to complete. It requires three to four cycles of 15 minutes each, with LED lights being used to speed up the process by activating the gel.
As always, results are dependent on the original shade and current tooth discoloration and factors specific to each individual, but patients choosing Zoom Whitening can expect their teeth to be up to 6 shades lighter by the end of the treatment. Photos before and after treatment are ideal and most dentists will take these with you in-surgery.
The actual procedure involves the dentist applying a gel like substance to your gums, which is hardened by a curing light and acts as a protective barrier avoiding the hydrogen peroxide, or the high-intensity light from direct contact with the gums. Your dentist will usually choose a 6-16% hydrogen peroxide gel which is applied onto your teeth and exposed to the Zoom WhiteSpeed LED light in order to accelerate the activation. At the end of the first cycle, taking approximately 10-15 minutes, the hydrogen peroxide gel is rinsed off and more gel is applied for a second cycle. This process is repeated 3-4 times and will provide stunning results in about an hour, with patients’ teeth often being 6 shades lighter on the day. Protective eyewear will have been worn throughout the duration of treatment and light intensity levels can be adjusted to accommodate sensitivity for the patient. Once completed all the desired cycles the dentist will provide all your aftercare instructions which will include plenty of water intake, avoiding any staining food or drink (*rule of thumb is if it would stain a white shirt it would stain your freshly whitening teeth!) immediately after treatment.
How long your Zoom Whitening results last will also depend on your personal circumstances and habits. For most patients, the effects of a Zoom teeth whitening session will still be visible a year or two after the initial treatment, providing you are taking care of your teeth, have good oral hygiene and follow your dentist's recommendations with regards to food consumption.
Your diet especially, will play a crucial role in how long the effects of your treatment will last, with patients consuming large qualities of red wine, coffee, soda or berries likely to be more at risk of seeing their teeth going back to their original color quickly. Smokers are unfortunately the group of individuals that suffer quicker relapse of discoloration.
As it is not recommended to repeat the Zoom Whitening procedure more often than once a year, to avoid issues such as long term tooth sensitivity and tooth dehydration, patients are often advised to use custom made home whitening trays and whitening gel at periodic intervals every 4-6months to maintain the shade of white achieved after the Zoom Whitening treatment.
In-Surgery teeth whitening has some important advantages when compared to home procedures and over-the-counter products. One of the main benefits of consulting your dental practitioner for this type of treatment is that they will be in a position to advise you on the most relevant option for you and address any concerns or issues you may have, especially when dealing with crowns, decayed teeth, veneers or fillings and will be more experienced in dealing with this type of treatment and the side effects you may experience such as tooth or gum sensitivity.
The other major advantage of in-surgery whitening solutions is the speed of treatment and immediate results. Whilst at home procedures will take a couple of hours a day over the course of weeks of treatment to get the desired results, in-surgery procedures such as Zoom Whitening will help you achieve your goal in a single session and usually under an hour.
Cost is usually one of the key factors when considering teeth whitening options. This often leads patients to opt for cheaper options such as whitening strips (Crest), whitening toothpaste and whitening gum. Regular toothpaste, of course, can help you remove some superficial stains and maintain good oral hygiene, whilst more specialized whitening toothpaste can help you get a whiter smile due to their abrasive nature or the presence of ingredients such as silica.
While cost should certainly be taken into account in your decision-making process, the effectiveness, quality and safety of the product you chose have to remain the key priorities in order for you to achieve the results you seek.
Some home whitening products such as Opalescence Whitening and Zoom day/nite Whitening are in-home teeth whitening solutions which are more effective than teeth whitening toothpaste and strips and can therefore help you achieve the desired results. These options also tend to be a bit cheaper than in-surgery options but do require compliance and work on the patient’s side at home for it to be successful.
The degree of tooth sensitivity, discomfort, and pain during teeth whitening treatments varies depending on the method used, the way your teeth respond to the hydrogen or carbamide peroxide gel, and the quality of the product used. If your teeth are already sensitive, discomfort might be experienced during the treatment and tooth sensitivity heightened after the completion of each cycle. However, this heightened sensitivity is unlikely to last for more than a few days.
Additionally, and unlike in-surgery teeth whitening solutions where your gums are protected with a special gel, you might experience gum irritation when using home teeth whitening kits as your gum will usually be exposed to the bleaching gel. It is therefore recommended to use very small amounts of gel and wipe out any excess bleaching gel from the tray when starting each cycle to limit the risk of gum irritation. If any of those symptoms persist, be sure to book an appointment with your dentist who will be able to check if any damage was caused to the teeth or gums.
A popular competitor in the market is Enlighten Teeth Whitening which through combinations of in-clinic and at home methods in order to achieve maximum results. This brand is one of the market leaders in guaranteed teeth whitening results for even the toughest of cases.
Key benefits of the Enlighten teeth whitening systems include:
The mixed in-surgery and at home whitening method is achieved with very specific laboratory made trays which you take with you to your dentist for your in-surgery sessions as well as use at home over a sequence of weeks at different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide gels ranging from 6-16% under the supervision of your dentist, the in surgery session presenting the higher concentration sessions completed. The maintenance of your result will also require a continuous treatment at home every few months in order to maximise the longevity of results.
There are several factors that can influence how quickly you will see results:
No matter what teeth whitening option you go for, you will probably notice that results obtained post treatment will slowly fade, with the shade of your teeth slowing going back to having a yellow or grey undertone.
This naturally occurring change of color is expected as teeth whitening results usually lasting between 6 months to several years depending on the patient.
In order to keep the benefits of your teeth whitening treatment for longer, be sure to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth 2-3 times a day, you could also use a teeth whitening toothpaste to help you with small superficial stains that might re-appear over time and be sure to visit your hygienist every 6 months to clean your teeth and remove any plaque build-up which could give your teeth a slightly yellow undertone.
If you have good hygiene habits and keep your teeth healthy by brushing with a daily toothpaste and avoiding foods and drinks that stain your teeth, keeping your teeth white for longer should be easily achievable.
Both home and in-surgery teeth whitening solutions such as Zoom Whitening, Enlighten and Opalescence Whitening to name a few and those discussed briefly in this guide are considered safe because chemicals used only interact with the colored organic molecules of the tooth enamel and the dentin (particles that live under the enamel and which give your teeth a stained or yellow appearance) but do not affect the structure of the tooth, the enamel or the gums long term if used in moderation.
The chemicals used in many home teeth-whitening products, such as Carbamide Proxide, are developed with patients in mind and are often very mild to ensure they gently whiten the teeth without causing major side effects. This lower strength of the peroxide gel for home whitening solutions is the reason why each cycle is usually 1-2 hours at a time as opposed to 15 minutes for the in-surgery solutions which tend to be a lot stronger in concentration and leverage an LED light to activate the gel and speed up the whitening process.
Whilst side effects can be experienced by patients during and after any whitening treatment, these will usually disappear within a few days. The safety of teeth whitening solutions is supported by a number of studies and your dental practitioner should be in a position to explain the risks associated with this procedure, prior to you starting treatment.
As described above, there are usually no long term side effects of teeth whitening treatments, except for mild tooth sensitivity, which some patients might experience in the 24-48 hours following their treatment. However, it is worth mentioning that as with any chemical solution, improper use of in-home whitening products or over-whitening can lead to extreme tooth sensitivity and gum inflammation.
You can minimise these risks by choosing a registered dental practitioner to perform the.
Since teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic treatment, it is usually only available privately with treatments carried out either by a private dental professional or by the patients themselves, using in-home whitening products.
It is therefore unlikely that you will be able to get your teeth whitened on the NHS, unless the procedure is carried out for medical reasons such as whitening of a tooth that would have been discoloured due to the nerve of that tooth dying.
Although teeth whitening can bring significant results on its own, dentists can recommend other procedures as well to thoroughly change your smile. Below, are the most common procedures to consider.
Patients who have opted for removable braces such as Invisalign clear braces can in theory get their teeth whitened at any time during their teeth straightening treatment, although it is usually recommended to wait until the end of your treatments as Invisalign attachments are often used to rotate the teeth in the desired position and can impede the whitening treatment accessing the totality of the teeth where the attachments are located.
In order to ensure your teeth remain white for as long as humanly possible, you should always maintain a good oral hygiene and follow simple steps as the key to a white smile is to reduce foods and drinks that cause tooth discoloration. These usually fall under three main categories:
As a rule of thumb, you should consider whether or not the food or drink you choose to consume would leave a stain on a white shirt. If the answer is ‘yes’, you should expect these foods and drinks to have a similar impact on the colour of your teeth and reduce or quit your intake of such foods and beverages. The most common examples are coffee, tea, fruit juices, marinades, sauces, red wine, gravy, berries, pasta, beets, and mustard.
It’s also important to note that very hot/cold beverages should be avoided as these temperature changes can cause teeth contraction or expansion which will make your teeth more prone to staining.
For the best results, consider brushing your teeth approximately 30 minutes after consuming food and drink. This will ensure that stain-causing particles do not remain on the tooth’s enamel for a prolonged period of time, which could cause staining.
If you smoke, remember that the colour of your teeth is likely to change more quickly after your whitening treatment as both nicotine and tar, two substances found in cigarettes, have staining properties. If you want to keep your teeth whiter for longer, consider cutting down smoking or quitting altogether.
In the UK, most dental practitioners carry out teeth whitening treatments and might even have dedicated staff for this type of treatment. Prices will vary depending on the type of procedure you chose and the type of treatment plan offered by your dentist, such as personalised consultation, in-office treatment, custom mouth guard and take-home teeth whitening kit to use post in-surgery treatment.
Teeth whitening prices will usually start from £200 with certain dentists charging up to a £1,000 depending on the location of the practice and quality of treatment provided.
Average prices for individual procedures are as follow:
Unfortunately, due to its cosmetic dentistry classification teeth whitening will not be offered on the NHS. There are very few cases where a patient is entitled to teeth whitening treatment .
Consumers today have more teeth whitening options available than ever before with advancements in technology making treatments more and more effective. Although a large number of over the counter products can be purchased, a dentist-supervised and professional teeth whitening treatment is safer and offers quicker and more predictable results. Many dentists have both at-home and in-surgery treatment options to suit your needs and budget.
If you are looking for a dentist in your area that performs teeth whitening, use the Smileo search functionality and refine your search to include professionals offering the teeth whitening of your choice.
If you are looking for a dentist that specialises in teeth whitening in your local area to help you achieve the perfect smile, look no further. Smileo has over 2,000 private dentists in the UK, all performing a range of dental treatments such as cosmetic bonding, dental crowns and dental veneers, white fillings, or laser gum contouring.
Smileo registered practitioners also specialise in teeth straightening treatments including metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, removable braces such as Invisalign as well as a range of other braces and aligners inlcuding 6 Month Smiles, Inman Aligners or Damon braces. To find a dentist near you, simply enter your preferred location in the search bar below and refine your search results to find the dentist and treatment that best suits your needs.
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