Avinash Sachdev

Tooth Whitening – Your Questions Answered

Lady with white teethThere are many advantages to whitening your teeth – it’s a quick way to improve cosmetics that’s cost effective and non-invasive. With so many of our patients enquiring about tooth whitening, we thought it would be great to write a blog answering the questions we are most commonly asked.

Does activated charcoal toothpaste whiten your teeth?

So what’s all the hype around activated charcoal toothpaste? Does it really whiten your teeth?

We see this all the time on the internet and it drives us crazy. Charcoal doesn’t help and it’s a shame companies are allowed to get away with claiming it does. The only thing that is scientifically proven to whiten your teeth in a safe way is hydrogen peroxide, which is basically bleach. It can either be used in its pure form or it can be used as carbamide peroxide, the latter being more stable and releasing the bleach slowly.

You might be fooled into thinking charcoal toothpaste works because when you’re brushing with it, your teeth look incredibly black. Once you rinse it all off, there’s a huge contrast between the black paste and your clean teeth, so it appears they have got whiter. It’s all an optical illusion.

What’s the best tooth whitening product?

The two most important things that you need to whiten your teeth are:

  1. High quality dental bleach that has been stored accordingly
  2. Well fitted bleaching trays

There are many products out there, but we use a premium one that guarantees a B1 shade. The product we trust is Enlighten.

Does tooth whitening hurt?

The most common issue with tooth whitening is sensitivity. However, with the system we use, this side effect is relatively uncommon and that’s because of the patented formula. The actual bleach has a desensitising agent build into it and the kit comes with a really effective product you paint onto your teeth before using the dental bleach. This works very well and the feedback we get from our patients is fantastic.

How long does tooth whitening take?

We begin by asking our patients how white they want their teeth to go. Younger patients often say they want them really white whereas older patients usually want their teeth a few shades lighter so they look cleaner, younger and fresher.

For the younger patients (who want their teeth really white) we say normally two to three weeks will achieve a really good shade. For the patients who just want a few shades lighter we say normally seven to ten days.

Are the tooth whitening kits safe?

Yes absolutely. Research has shown a two-week tooth whitening regime has the same effect as drinking a can of cola. As mentioned before the only negative aspect is that you may experience some sensitivity.

Are there any foods/drinks to avoid during the process?

Generally speaking, food and drink doesn’t make a big difference. At the end of the day, anything that causes staining of the teeth will cause the same amount of staining during the tooth whitening procedure. So it’s not like a few cups of coffee is going to make a major difference to the shade we will achieve.

How often can you whiten your teeth?

Everyone is different. There are some patients whose teeth hold that bleached shade for years after whitening, whereas others need topping up every now and again. We normally recommend topping up every six months to maintain your bleached shade. Now this doesn’t mean you have to go through the whole process again, just one or two nights. This is very cheap to do so it’s worth carrying on. The costly bit of the whitening procedure is the initial part and then after that it’s very cheap.

How do you whiten your teeth fast?

Unfortunately, there is no magic trick. You could use hydrogen peroxide,  which should work quicker, however you would need to wear the bleaching trays during the daytime (all day) as you would have to keep topping them up with dental bleach. Also, the quicker you carry out the process, the more sensitivity you are likely to experience. As said before, the slow release carbamide peroxide is the best product to use and this normally takes two weeks.

Does laser teeth whitening work?

So it’s not actually a laser. Shhh… don’t tell anyone! It’s just an ordinary light bulb that has a blue filter on it. The light heats up the bleach so it speeds up the reaction. That’s all it does – the whole ‘laser’ aspect is a gimmick.

How about a visit to the hygienist? Will a scale and polish whiten my teeth?

The hygienist will be great at removing the superficial staining from your teeth, however this is not going to make any difference if the internal colour is dark. The only way to whiten teeth predictably and safely is to use dental bleach as described above.

All the other stuff that claims to whiten your teeth, like baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, toothpaste or banana peel, is rubbish. In fact, if you actually read some of the ingredients that go into the products, they can cause a lot of damage to your teeth. There’s a reason why registered dentists/hygienists are the only ones legally allowed to preform the teeth whitening procedure. If you would like to discuss teeth whitening and book a consultation, call 020 3925 3846, email team@gentledentalcaregroup.co.uk or fill in our form and we will get back to you ASAP.