On ITV's Save Money: Good Health aired last night we showed whitening treatment for our lovely eccentric patient Jason who was unhappy with his teeth, in particular heavy staining.
If you missed it, you can still catch it on the link below:
Save Money Good Health episode 5
There is so much information on teeth whitening that we were unable to feature on the show so I will highlight the key points in this blog post:
Firstly, your teeth MUST be examined by a dentist prior to any professional whitening treatment. This is to ensure they are healthy; no cavities or gum disease. Your dentist will highlight the risks involved and undertake a comprehensive assessment to ascertain your suitability. Any work required prior to treatment will be fully explained, something beauticians are not qualified to do. Remember your health is the upmost importance. And in Jason's case, it was "you get what you paid for". Years of over-the-counter and online treatment did little to prevent or solve Jason's staining problem.
In the programme, we treated Jason with scale and polish and finished off with whitening strips. But there are many other alternatives that could be more suitable for you.
SCALE AND POLISH / AIR POLISH
This does not actually whiten the enamel itself but it will remove plaque, tartar and stains for a brighter smile. It is recommended to get a scale and polish up to 4 times a year; this of course depends on patient's good oral hygiene and preference. We go to the gym frequently and spend time at the hair dressers, why not treat our oral health the same way?
Professional whitening strips contain a higher strength of the active whitening ingredient hydrogen peroxide compared to over-the-counter remedies. Any products containing over 0.1% hydrogen peroxide can ONLY be supplied by a dentist following a dental examination and the first application must always be carried out by the dentist.
There are many products advertised online but you should be wary of buying a quick fix as it is illegal for any company to supply products containing over 0.1% to the public. Jason brought me a whole bag of products he had purchased over the internet. The majority of them had no ingredients lists or information of the bleaching agent used. There could be a host of risky ingredients being used and Jason was putting his health at risk.
So why choose professional whitening strips? Professional whitening strips contain 5.6% hydrogen peroxide that will actually make a noticeable difference to your smile. These are ideal for patients who want to whiten their teeth quickly without the need to wait for a custom tray. Here are some more reasons to go professional:
Easy to use - just apply strips as directed and wear for 1 hour per day for 14 days
Quick - can start treatment straight away once your dentist approves
Discreet - the strips are very thin nearly invisible. Jason was really impressed when we applied them. They were not intrusive or affected his speech which makes it easy to wear daily.
Cost approx £50 per 14 day course
Maximum 2 courses per year
CUSTOM MADE WHITENING TRAYS (HOME WHITENING)
Custom made whitening trays ensure accurate fit for maximum contact of whitening gel and minimal leakage. Again, before treatment you will be examined by your dentist to assess your suitability. The initial costs are more costly compared to whitening strips mainly due to the custom trays. However, they can be kept for future top ups and in the long term, you can purchase a more affordable whitening gel, making this treatment overall cost effective. As with all whitening treatment, top ups may be required and this can be done 2-4 times a year with some only requiring top up every few years. Again this all depends how well you look after your teeth.
Cost from £295 for initial treatment
Top ups from £25 a tube
CHAIR-SIDE DENTIST APPLIED TEETH WHITENING
This is a good option for those wanting a faster result. The treatment is carried out in the chair by your dentist. After the initial treatment is undertaken, home treatment is recommended. You may experience some side effects such as temporary tooth sensitivity and gum ulcers, which can occur as a result of incorrect application. Remember with this treatment, a qualified dentist will prevent any major side effects.
Higher initial cost due to dentist time involved, home kit supplied for top up.
This is by no means a comprehensive detail of each of the available treatment. This blog post aims to give you an overview of treatment available at your dentist. This is the end result from Jason's treatment.
What else can you do to maintain a whiter smile?
Maintain good oral hygiene
The best AND cheapest way to keep your teeth looking whiter for longer is to maintain good oral hygiene. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that if left on the tooth surface can cause your teeth to appear yellow. With regular brushing (twice a day) and flossing, either with a floss or interdental brushes you can keep your teeth looking whiter and healthier.
Next week, I will be posting top tips to maintain a healthy and brighter smile.
Don't gamble with your health. It may seem like a cheaper quick fix by buying over-the-counter or homemade concoctions but I recommend you always seek professional advice, as any irreversible tooth damage will be expensive to fix in the long term.
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