The lowdown on teeth whitening

1st Oct 15 | Beauty

We look at a new way to lighten teeth, which promises not to make them sensitive.

The lowdown on teeth whitening

While many women aren't sure if they'd ever have plastic surgery, there's one cosmetic procedure most would jump at: teeth whitening.

Putting some off is the thought of increased sensitivity or, perhaps even worse, ending up with blindingly white teeth. Neither is likely to happen thanks to strides made with whitening though, and we have the lowdown on exactly what they are.

First of all, it's time to debunk the myth that lasers are the only way to achieve a brighter smile. According to Dr. Rhona Eskander of the Chelsea Dental Clinic in London, UK, any whiteness you see from this kind of procedure won't hang around for long.

"What's really important is that a lot of people are attracted to the myth of laser tooth whitening. It does not work," she insisted to Cover Media. "Basically, back in the day, before the regulation was set, it did work but the reason why, was because you've got your mouth open for ages while you're having laser whitening, because they isolate the teeth. Dehydrated teeth are always whiter, so if I sat you there, mouth open, without even doing anything, for an hour, your teeth are going to look whiter because I'm depriving you of saliva. But the percentage used in laser whitening for an hour, it doesn't do much. It's mainly dehydration and the heat from the lasers isn't strong enough to do anything."

Instead, she recommends using the Enlighten Teeth Whitening system. As well as ensuring you get the lighter shade you want, this has the added benefit of reducing the risk of sensitivity.

It isn't a speedy process though, meaning you will need to visit the dentist on several occasions. During your first session, moulds will be taken of your teeth, which are used to make bespoke trays for your mouth. Getting this bit right is essential, with Dr. Eskander explaining the success of whitening is all down to well-fitting trays.

Once you have those, you'll receive a kit, containing two sets of gels. Keep them in the fridge because it helps them work better, then use the lower dosage for a week and the higher for the following week.

"Put a pinhead - not a pea size, not a large amount - onto the front of each tray, so that when you pop it in, a thin veneer forms on the front of the teeth. You grab a tissue and wipe the excess off your gums - you do that after you've brushed your teeth - then you go to bed. The active ingredient stops taking effect after a few hours. Night time is great because it fits in with people's lifestyles," Dr. Eskander explained.

"Sometimes people get this zapping sensation on the teeth and that's known as sensitivity. It's not any damage to your teeth, which is what people get worried about, but should you experience any sensitivity, there are swabs [in the kit] you can apply to the problem areas."

After the two weeks, you go back to the dentist for a chair session, which lasts an hour, and then it's time to reassess. Some people will have achieved the whiteness they want, others may have to do the process for a little longer.

"It depends on several factors. If you find your sensitivity is too much, some people alternate nights. Some people prefer to do a couple of hours in the day time. It's all to do with compliance - that's the only reason whitening doesn't work," she assured.

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