5 Key Things to know about Teeth Whitening


Teeth Whitening

What is teeth whitening?

Put simply, teeth whitening refers to various methods of making your teeth whiter and/or removing stains. The two methods dentists usually offer are professional bleaching and laser whitening, also known as power whitening.

What does teeth whitening involve?

Professional teeth bleaching will require several visits to your dentist and takes a few weeks to complete. First your dentist will take an impression of your teeth so that they can make a mouthguard for you to use with a bleaching solution. After the first treatment in the surgery, you will normally use your mouthguard at home, regularly applying the bleaching gel for sessions of 30-60 minutes over two to four weeks. The active ingredient in the gel is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which breaks down and allows oxygen into the tooth enamel, making the tooth lighter. Some newer bleaching gels can be left on for eight hours at a time, and this can mean your treatment is complete in just one week.

If you opt for laser whitening, also known as power whitening, a rubber dam will be placed over your teeth to protect your gums before a bleaching solution is applied to your teeth. The solution is then activated by a light or laser beam. This treatment takes about an hour but only works on natural teeth, so it’s not suitable if you have dentures, veneers or crowns.

How long does teeth whitening last?

The effects of teeth whitening can last from a few months to three years, but this varies from person to person and depends on their lifestyle too. Tea, coffee and red wine can all stain teeth, so they’re best avoided if you want to keep your teeth white after treatment.

What are the risks of teeth whitening?

Your teeth may temporarily become very sensitive and your gums may be tender. Some people may find they have a sore throat and develop white patches on the gums. All these side-effects should only last a few days, so if they persist you’ll need to visit your dentist for advice.

How much does teeth whitening cost?

In rare cases where there are sound medical reasons, it may be possible to have tooth whitening on the NHS, such as when injury has caused the nerve in a tooth to die and the tooth to blacken. Teeth that have suffered damage like this can be bleached internally. But otherwise you will normally have to pay for teeth whitening privately.

Prices for bleaching treatments vary from around £180 to £750 depending on the exact length and type of treatment. Laser teeth whitening is more expensive, starting from £330 and potentially costing over £1000. The average fee for laser whitening is around £500.

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