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|Tooth Whitening Gel/Bleach|
A simple and effective way to bleach or whiten discoloured teeth
If you are one of the many people that feel self-conscious when you smile because of yellow, stained teeth, tooth whitening gel may be what you are looking for. Now readily available as a home kit, though best performed by an experienced practitioner, tooth whitening gel will give you a dazzling smile after just a few applications.
Tooth whitening itself has been around for a long time. It is known that as far back as Ancient Egypt people applied concoctions made from oxen hooves, egg shells and pumice to whiten their teeth. Wealthy Romans even imported urine to brighten their smiles, the ammonia in the urine acting as a bleaching agent. The use of the gels used nowadays is a relatively recent phenomenon. The gel, commercially available under a range of brand names (Opalescence, Nupro Gold, Nite-White, Rembrandt, Perfecta, Contrast P.M.) typically includes one of two key ingredients, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Both are proven to bleach teeth successfully, though a third version using chlorine dioxide treatment is very acidic and can damage tooth enamel.
Who should have the treatment?
Everyone’s teeth tend to yellow with age, especially smokers. Now tooth whitening gels can reverse this process. It is important to realise that tooth whitening gel is not just a cleansing procedure, like brushing your teeth. It involves using potentially dangerous chemicals and should be undertaken with great care.
“My teeth have been discoloured all my life due to the side-effects of an anti-sickness drug my mother was prescribed when she was pregnant with me,” said one man in his 40s. “I visited a cosmetic dentist who subtly whitened my teeth to bring them up to more natural and attractive level of whiteness.”
Before having your teeth whitened, your dentist will check your mouth to see if you are a suitable candidate for the treatment. This will take more than a quick glance, as they will need to look for signs of gum disease. If gum disease is detected, undergoing tooth whitening may result in irritation and ulcerated, receding gums.
Whitening your teeth with gel
When carrying out the treatment yourself, you should place the gel in a ‘tray’ which is similar to a gum shield, usually by means of a syringe. A small dab of tooth whitening gel needs to be located half way up the front of each tooth in the shield. You should brush and floss your teeth before inserting it. Place the shield into your mouth so that it is seated firmly against the teeth. Any excess gel, which sometimes seeps over the brim of the shield onto your gums, should be wiped off with a tissue.
If you are using a carbamide peroxide whitening gel, the shield should remain in place for 4 or more hours. If you are using a hydrogen peroxide whitener, 30 to 60 minutes 2 to 3 times a day, is sufficient. When you remove the tray, you can give your teeth a rinse and brush away any remaining gel. The shield itself should be cleaned using a toothbrush and cold water and stored in its holder.
It is important to ensure that the whitening gel does not come into contact with any other part of your mouth. Even small amounts of gel that have gone astray when leaking from a shield can cause chemical burns in the form of white spots on gums or lips.
As one patient commented, “Thankfully I was aware of the potential danger of these chemicals, so I didn’t mind paying to have the job done safely and effectively. As a result, I now have a dazzling, Hollywood smile!”
Who should you go to for this treatment?
Although it is possible to do your own teeth whitening, for the reasons mentioned in this article, you should visit a cosmetic dentist experienced in the use of these products to discus the suitability of the procedure for you. Should you then choose to undergo the treatment, the dentist would normally begin treatment in the dental surgery, and monitor your progress over the whitening period. The cost of the treatment can range from around £40 for a single tooth to over £500 for all your teeth.
Beware of beauty salons allowing unqualified staff to carry out teeth-whitening treatments. The harmful chemicals can damage your mouth, which is why UK dental regulators say that tooth whitening is illegal by non-dentists.
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