Many people wish to improve the appearance of their smile, this can include a range of treatments from straightening crooked teeth to replacing missing teeth to rebuilding broken down teeth through to whitening dark teeth.
It’s also popular for people to want to discover ways to do these without visiting the dentist, or at least keeping visits to the dentist to a minimum. In this blog post we will have a look at teeth whitening strips and answer a few questions you may have about this home teeth whitening option.
What are the options to whiten teeth?
There are a range of options to whiten dark teeth, some of them can be done at home whilst others will require a visit to a dentist. Understanding this can help us make the best decision about whitening strips.
Teeth Whitening without a Dentist
The following items can typically be bought over the counter:
- Teeth whitening toothpastes – these can start the process at home, there is very little active whitening agent within the toothpaste as this is restricted in law, these toothpastes typically use a slightly more abrasive compound, this is then more effective at removing surface stains.
- Teeth whitening pens – these can often be purchased in chemists and other similar shops, most typically they are simply a slightly translucent white paint which covers the front surface of the tooth temporarily. They can often be good to whiten teeth for a single occasion but the results will be very temporary. Other whitening pens do contain an active whitening agent so it’s important to check which type is on offer prior to purchase.
- Teeth whitening strips – Whitening strips will have an active ingredient to actively whiten your teeth, however, it’s important to know that for safety reasons the amount of this active ingredient is quite dramatically reduced compared to what you can have when it is prescribed by a dental professional.
Teeth Whitening With a Dentist
The following options can whiten teeth to a greater degree than is possible without visiting a dentist:
- Home teeth whitening kit – this involves visiting the dentist to have a dental impression taken, from this impression a highly accurate custom fitting whitening tray will be made. This tray fits precisely over the surface of your teeth, this helps to keep the whitening gel exactly in place and prevent it from touching the sensitive gums. The whitening gel is placed inside the tray and is then worn for a couple of hours each day or possibly overnight. The whitening gel contains hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent to lighten the colour of theteeth.
- In office whitening – this involves the dentist in the office/surgery placing the whitening gel over the surface of the teeth and then applying a high-powered light to speed up the whitening process. The dentist will ensure that there is an isolating agent put over the gums of the teeth to prevent the gel coming into contact with them.
Should I brush my teeth before whitening trays
It is advisable to wait 20 minutes after eating before brushing the teeth, this is to give the surface of the teeth time to recover from any acid attack which occurs each time anything is eaten or drunk. This is particularly true if this was acidic food & drink.
The same applies with teeth whitening. We recommend that a delay of 20 minutes is taken after eating before teeth brushing and starting the whitening process.
It is important that any food debris or surface plaque is removed from the teeth prior to whitening, this is why we recommend cleaning teeth before starting the daily whitening routine at home.
Do whitening strips work well on yellow teeth?
They can do. Whitening strips typically have a hydrogen peroxide (the active whitening ingredient) percentage of around 6.5% whilst teeth whitening prescribed by a dentist can, in some circumstances use concentrations up to 40%.
This typically means that teeth whitening at the dentist is quicker and may be able to whitening the teeth more than whitening strips.
One of the reasons that the concentration is lower in whitening strips is because hydrogen peroxide can burn the delicate soft tissue/gum area, for home use this is why the concentration is lower. However, when the dentist is involved they would take measures (such as providing a close fitting custom bleaching tray, or isolating the gum during surgery whitening) to ensure that the hydrogen peroxide stays well away from the gums.
Can I eat after whitening?
It is indeed eat after any form of whitening, one may however find that there is some sensitivity for a few hours after the whitening trays are taken out, avoiding very hot or very cold food and drinks may be advisable. This sensitivity should settle down quite quickly. With whitening strips some people notice that the sensitivity is lower due to the lower concentration of active hydrogen peroxide ingredient.
Do you brush your teeth after using whitening strips?
We recommend that with any form of whitening that teeth are brushed beforehand. This is to ensure that any plaque (this sticky surface layer on your teeth) is removed and that any whitening agent present in the strips or gel gets the closest contact with the teeth.
We don’t advise brushing immediately after whitening as the teeth maybe a little more sensitive for a couple of hours. The sensitivity will usually be lower with whitening strips then it is with any other form of whitening, however the whitening process will take longer due to the lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide active ingredient.
Are there any negative side effects from teeth whitening?
The most common side effect from teeth whitening is sensitivity. Some people find that using a sensitive teeth toothpaste can help to alleviate this. It may be advisable to begin using a sensitive teeth toothpaste a couple of weeks prior to beginning whitening to give the teeth time to build up resistance and prevent tooth sensitivity.
Another quite serious side effect from teeth whitening can be burning to the gums. Teeth whitening at the dentist is controlled carefully to ensure that the whitening agent does not touch the gum, this is done with a very closely fitting tray which is custom-made exclusively for you. Without this tray the gel would come into contact with the teeth.
Finally, another side-effect may be that the teeth don’t get whiten but that the tartar which builds up between your teeth gets whitened instead. This happens when the tartar is not removed between the teeth prior to beginning the whitening, therefore the whitening agent cannot actually touch the teeth and can only whiten the tartar.
This is why visiting a dentist for whitening is the only legal way to ensure you get the brightest smile. A dentist will ensure that all of the oral health requirements are met prior to beginning whitening, this includes:
- Gum recession which can exacerbate dentine hypersensitivity
- Gum disease which could lead to bleeding and damage to the gums
- Cracked tooth check, cracked teeth can become ultrasensitive if whitening is undertaken.
They will undertake a full assessment to ensure the gums are not bleeding (which could then get mixed into the bleaching gel) and that there isn’t any tartar in between the teeth which would prevent the teeth whitening fully.
Should you have any further questions about teeth whitening in Watford please do feel free to request an appointment online, or call us on 01923 233600, we are at your service.
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