This is a very simple procedure of lightening the colour of teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot change the colour of your teeth but is a highly effective way of lightening the existing colour.

The procedure involves the whitening product being placed in a specially made tray which fits into the mouth like a gum shield. The chemical is activated by heat (from your mouth) which is why the product should be stored in a fridge. The active ingredient in whitening products is normally hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The procedure needs to be repeated until you are happy with the shade of your teeth.

You will need two or three visits to the dentist for this procedure. Firstly the dentist will make your whitening trays by taking impressions and sending them to a technician to be made. Secondly, the dentist will try in your whitening trays to make sure they are comfortable and fit properly.  Your first application of the whitening product will be done in surgery by your dentist so they can give you full instruction of how to use it. You will then be given the whitening product to take home. Depending on the product, you will be applying it regularly over 2-4 weeks for anything from 1 hour to overnight. You will need to come back for further appointments so the dentist can keep records of your shade change.

Tooth whitening is a purely cosmetic treatment. Very few teeth are actually white, some are beige and some have a yellowish tinge. They also yellow with age and become discoloured from food and drink staining. The results from whitening depend on the original shade of the teeth. They will darken over time depending on how much tea, coffee, red wine, curry etc you consume. The effects usually last for one to three years although you can 'top-up' by repeating the procedure every so often for a couple of days.

As mentioned before, whitening can only lighten your existing tooth colour. If you want to change the colour of your teeth, veneers or crowns would be an option. Whitening only works on natural teeth, so if you have any crowns or fillings on your front teeth they may need to be replaced after treatment.

Whitening toothpastes are available which are effective at removing stains from teeth. Again they do not affect the natural colour of the teeth but they can improve the overall appearance. They are also effective to keep up your teeth's appearance after the whitening treatment.


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