Teeth whitening can be a highly effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth, not removing any of the tooth surface. It can not make a complete colour change; but it will lighten the existing shade.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to get your teeth whitened. Artists were some of the first to do it, and it was tax deductible for them! Yes, they needed it and many other public persons followed.

Very few persons have brilliant-white teeth, and our teeth usually become more discoloured as we get older.

Your teeth can also be stained on the surface through food and drinks. Tea, coffee, red wine and blackcurrant make a difference not only in the short run. And smoking do stain teeth. Some people may have staining under the surface, which can be caused by certain antibiotics or tiny cracks in the teeth which take up stains.

Professional bleaching is the most common form of tooth whitening and your dentist will be able to tell you if you are suitable for the treatment. First the dentist will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect the soft tissue. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth, using a specially made tray which fits into your mouth like a gum-shield.

The ‘active ingredient’ in the product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter. The total treatment can be done within three to four weeks.

First, you will need two or three visits to the dentist. Your dentist will need to make a mouthguard and will take impressions for this. Once your dentist has started the treatment, you will need to continue the treatment at home. This means regularly applying the whitening product over two to four weeks, for 30 minutes to one hour at a time.

However, there are now some new products which can be applied for up to eight hours at a time. The treatment can be performed when you sleep. This means a satisfactory result can be achieved in as little as one week.

There is now laser whitening, even called power whitening. During this procedure a rubber dam is put over your teeth to protect the gums, and a bleaching product is painted onto your teeth. Then a light or laser is shone on the teeth to activate the chemical. The light speeds up the chemical reaction of the whitening product and the colour change can be achieved more quickly using this procedure. The effect of laser whitening is good, teeth can make up to five or six shades lighter.

Your dentist will need to check your teeth to make sure that you are suitable for the treatment. This procedure is fast and usually takes about one hour.

The effects of whitening can last up to three years and will vary from person to person. Of course the effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink products that can stain your teeth. Some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. The symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.

Home kits are cheaper but because tooth whitening is a complicated procedure you should only have it done by a dentist, after a thorough examination and assessment of your teeth. Home kits that you buy over-the-counter will not be able to lighten your teeth noticeably. And some contain mild acids and others are abrasive. This can cause ulcers and damage to the gums if the product is not used properly.

There are many whitening toothpastes on the market. Although they do not affect the natural colour of your teeth, they may be effective at removing staining and therefore may improve the overall appearance of your teeth. Whitening toothpaste may also help the effect last, once your teeth have been professionally whitened.

We recommend that you look for an accreditation symbol on the packaging of oral care products. This is a guarantee that the claims made about the product have been scientifically and clinically checked by an independent panel of experts.

As you know many dead teeth go discoloured after a root filling. If the tooth has been root treated, the canal (which previously contained the nerve) may be reopened. Then the whitening product is applied and will work from the inside to whiten the tooth.

You can do a lot to keep your teeth white by cutting down on the amount of food and drink you have that can stain teeth. Stopping smoking can also help prevent discolouring and staining.

Take care of your teeth – brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on how often you have sugary snacks and drinks and visit your dentist at least once a year.

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