Teeth whitening is increasing in popularity, as more people become aware of the lifestyle enhancing effects of a brighter, whiter, aesthetically-pleasing smile. Over 20 years’ worth of research and publications on teeth whitening with carbamide/hydrogen peroxide indicate that it is safe, effective and can last for many years; depending on diet, smoking, tea, coffee, and red wine consumption etc. It is not permanent, and longevity will vary from person to person. You may require regular top-ups/maintenance, or repeat treatment after a few years. Other teeth whitening products, such as whitening toothpastes contain only abrasive particles, which remove small amounts of superficial staining on the very surface (extrinsic) of the tooth, but will not remove discolouration of or within (intrinsic) the tooth.
Changes to Legislation
A recent survey by the General Dental Council (GDC), which regulates the dental profession, states that 8 out of 10 people believe teeth whitening should only be carried out by registered, trained dental professionals. On 31st October 2012, the law relating to tooth whitening changed. EU Directive 76/768/EEC made it illegal for anyone other than a dentist or a member of their supervised team to carry out teeth whitening. It states that a registered dentist should carry out an examination before prescribing teeth whitening treatment. Tooth whitening products can only be sold by dental practitioners or obtained on prescription by a dentist. Anyone else offering or supplying teeth whitening (e.g. beauticians, hairdressers or online suppliers) are acting illegally, lack the correct training and knowledge and could permanently damage your teeth and gums. To provide Enlighten Evolution tooth whitening requires accreditation through additional training and courses, and as such it is only available at a select number of Enlighten-accredited dental practices.
Indications for Tooth Whitening
- Mild general staining
- Yellowing or greying with age
- Mild to moderate tetracycline staining
- Mild to moderate fluorosis.
Contraindications to Tooth Whitening
- Moderate to severe tetracycline staining
- Severe fluorosis
- Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers
- Plastic or peroxide allergy
Levels of Whitening
We are unable to guarantee or predict the level of tooth whitening that will occur. You should expect an appreciable lightening of shade within 2-5 weeks, though it may be possible to lighten teeth more. It is important to note that existing restorations, dentures, crown and bridgework, especially those within the aesthetic zone, will not be affected by hydrogen peroxide and will not change colour.
Home Whitening Technique
Home whitening is the most popular and effective technique and uses a carbamide peroxide (hydrogen peroxide) gel in custom fitting vacuum-formed trays. This is the most effective form of tooth whitening, as the trays have reservoirs that maintain the contact between the gel and tooth. Side Effects; Sensitivity You may develop some mild and temporary sensitivity during tooth whitening. This is made worse by applying the gel more than once in 24 hours. If sensitivity occurs, stop whitening for 2-4 days. You can choose to use the trays with a desensitising toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, or a fluoride gel. This may take several days to settle, after which treatment can be continued. Usually, transient sensitivity will completely disappear once whitening stops. Certain whitening kits provide de-sensitising swabs or gels to help manage this occasional side effect.