1. Consultation first, teeth-whitening later
To make an informed decision about whether teeth-whitening is the
best option for you it is best to have as much information as possible.
Your dentist can tell you about the time scales, cost and risks associated
with teeth-whitening so that there are no nasty surprises further down
the line. A good dentist will give you a free consultation so that you can
decide on a sensible course of action.
2. Know the alternatives
Veneers and crowns are the obvious cosmetic alternatives to teeth-
whitening. However, both of these options can damage tooth tissue and
are therefore far more destructive. They should only really be considered
if whitening in isolation cannot achieve the same result.
3. Find out if you are a suitable candidate
If you have teeth with existing fillings or crowns, do bear in mind that
these will not whiten. It is also important to understand that decay
and loose fillings will have to be made healthy and gum disease issues
addressed before whitening treatment can proceed. Bite-wing X-rays
and a thorough check-up can help establish whether you are a suitable
3. Be positive
Okay, so let’s assume that you are a suitable candidate for teeth-
whitening. It’s always best to embark on a course of treatment with a
positive frame of mind. So, remember that teeth whitening is a fantastic
way of getting great results with no damage to tooth structure.
4. Know the difference between home-whitening and in-office
Now for the science bit. Home-whitening involves having moulds
taken of your teeth so that custom-fitted teeth whitening trays can be
constructed for you. These trays will keep whitening gel enclosed around
your teeth. You can ‘wear’ the trays overnight or for three hours before
you go to bed. This process needs to be observed for about 2-3 weeks.
In-office whitening tends to involve spending about 90 minutes in the
dental chair while tooth-whitening gel is applied to the teeth. The rays
from a sophisticated power lamp will then activate the gel.
5. Be aware of how long the results last
Home whitening tends to last longer than in-office whitening.
Zoom Advanced Power in-office whitening does have the advantage of
giving a ‘Wow’ factor instant effect but the results can fade more quickly
than is the case with home whitening.
6. Pain management
Whichever whitening treatment you plump for, do expect to experience
some degree of sensitivity. This can be managed by applying
desensitisers or tooth mousse to teeth. Nurofen tablets can also help
control the sensitivity.
7. Draw up a maintenance programme
Teeth-whitening gel manufacturers recommend ‘topping up’ your
teeth’s whiteness by using home whitening trays for one night every
two months. Doing so should help restore the effects of your original
8. Be prepared to change your diet
If you have opted for home whitening, you will need to avoid the many
foods and drinks which stain teeth. This means no tea, coffee, red wine
or ketchup during the course of the treatment. You will have to ditch the
cigarettes and tobacco products.
9. Combine home-whitening and in-office whitening
It is widely-acknowledged that a combination of home-whitening and
office-whitening produces far more effective results than having either of
these treatments in isolation.
10. And finally…
Always get whitening treatment from a professional dentist. Even if
you’ve opted for home whitening you will need your dentist’s expert help.
Some shopping centres and beauty salons offer whitening treatment but
they will not offer an initial consultation – a consultation which is vital
for determining whether you are suitable for whitening.
James Christie writes for London dentist Ethicare. Ethicare
will carry out home whitening and provide you with one
week’s worth of home whitening gel free of charge if you have
Invisalign treatment or orthodontic treatment with braces.