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Tooth Whitening

When to begin whitening?

You should take at least a 3 months break after removal of fixed braces before you embark on whitening. The reason is that after the braces are removed, the enamel loses some vital elements and minerals needs some time to return to its normal state and become stronger.

You also need to allow time for your normal brushing to take most of the surface staining off naturally and to give your gums some time to settle down. Once your gums returned to normal shape an impression for whitening trays will be more accurate and they will fit better.

Brushing and flossing are everyday ways to keep your teeth bright, white and healthy. Still, if you feel that your smile lacks some sparkle or is more yellow than it used to be, you’re not alone. When people are asked what they would most like to improve about their smile the most common response is ‘whiter teeth’. We find that nearly 70% of our patients request tooth whitening.

Here are five of the most commonly asked questions about the process:

Why do my teeth Change colour?

Over the time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-white for a number of reasons:

Food and Drink

Coffee, tea, bright colour spice and red wine are some major staining pigments. What do they have in common? Intense colour pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth.

Tobacco Use

Two chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains: Tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colourless until it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into a yellowish, surface-staining substance. People who smoke, usually have yellowish teeth, compare to non-smokers.


Below the hard, white outer part of your teeth (enamel) is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.


If you suffered a blow to a tooth it may change colour because it reacts to injury by laying down more dentin, which is the darker layer under the enamel. If the toothblood vessels were damaged, a colour may change from light/dark pink through light/dark grey to black.


Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Young children who are exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline when their teeth are forming (either in the womb or as a baby) may have discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.

How Does Tooth Whitening Work?

Tooth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain a tooth bleaching chemical (either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). The bleach break stains into smaller pieces, which makes the colour less concentrated and your teeth brighter.

Does Whitening Work Similarly On All Teeth?

No, which is why it’s important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.

What Are My Whitening Options?

Talk to your dentist before starting. There three ways to make you teeth whiter:

1. Whitening Toothpastes

All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives that scrub the teeth. Unlike bleaches, these types do not change the colour of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface. Please make sure you buy whitening toothpaste at Boots, Superdrug or other high street shops, where all products were checked and licenced to sell. Do not buy off the Internet, especially from abroad as you cannot guarantee if it not a fake product.

2. At-Home Whitening

Peroxide-containing whiteners actually bleach the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a tray that fits on your teeth. You may also use a whitening strip that sticks to your teeth. Your can only legally buy whitening gels from your dentist or Orthodontist. Again, avoid using products ordered online as you cannot guarantee that it is not a fake.

3. In-Office Whitening

This procedure is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist normally place either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect your gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth. Sometimes a strong UV Light is used to enhance the penetration of bleach into a tooth. This method is effective and you can see immediate results. However, in recent years it has become less popular because the teeth might be very sensitive thereafter.

How much does whitening cost?

At our clinics we sell a single whitening gel tube for £20. Most patients manage to whiten their teeth with four tubes only.

How to cope with the sensitivity caused by whitening?

Some people experience tooth sensitivity. That happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth. In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay treatment, and apply Sensodyne toothpaste daily to reduce the sensitivity. Treatment can continue when the sensitivity has subsided.


Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist or Orthodontist.

If you are interested in whitening please speak with our receptionist and arrange to see one of our Orthodontists.