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Teeth whitening at Surbiton Dental

Tooth Whitening: A Complete Guide to a Dazzling Smile

Post by : admin | 1 November 2023

Tired of hiding your smile because of yellow or stained teeth? You’re not alone. Tooth whitening has become one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures today. But what is it, really? How does it work? And is it worth it? Keep reading to find all the answers you need.

What is tooth whitening?

Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete colour change, but it may lighten the existing shade.

Why Do Teeth Get Discolored?

Before diving into the ins and outs of tooth whitening, let’s discuss why teeth get discolored in the first place.

Common reasons include:

Food and Drinks: Coffee, tea, wine, and certain fruits can stain your teeth.

Tobacco: Tar and nicotine create stubborn stains.

Age: The enamel gets thinner over time, revealing the yellowish dentin beneath.

Medications: Some medicines can darken teeth.

Why would I need my teeth whitened?

There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened. Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth, and our teeth can also become more discoloured as we get older.

Your teeth can also be stained on the surface by food and drinks such as tea, coffee, red wine and blackcurrant. Smoking can also stain teeth.

‘Calculus’ or tartar can also affect the colour of your teeth. Some people may have staining under the surface, which can be caused by certain antibiotics or by tiny cracks in the teeth which take up stains.

What does tooth whitening involve?

Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening. Your dental team will be able to tell you if you are suitable for the treatment, and will supervise it if you are. First the dental team will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect them. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth, using a specially made tray which fits into your mouth like a mouthguard.

The ‘active ingredient’ in the product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter.

How long does this take?

The total treatment can usually be done within three to four weeks. First, you will need two or three visits to the dentist. Your dental team will need to make a whitening trays and will take impressions for this at the first appointment. Once your dental team has started the treatment, you will need to continue the treatment at home. This means regularly applying the whitening product over two to four weeks, for 60 – 90 minutes to one hour at a time.

However, there are now some new products which can be applied for up to eight hours at a time. This means you can get a satisfactory result in as little as one week.

How much does tooth whitening cost?

Charges will vary from practice to practice and region to region. Also, the type of tooth whitening and brand will impact the cost. We recommend you get a written estimate of the cost before you start any treatment.

Advantages of Tooth Whitening

  • Boosted Self-Esteem: A brighter smile often leads to increased confidence and self-esteem. You’re likely to smile more, making you appear more friendly and approachable.
  • Quick and Noticeable Results: Unlike braces or veneers, which take months to show results, tooth whitening usually requires just one or two sessions.
  • Positive Oral Hygiene Impact: When you invest in a brighter smile, you’re more likely to take better care of it, leading to improved oral hygiene habits.

What are the side effects?

Some people may find that their teeth become sensitive to cold during or after the treatment. Others may have discomfort in the gums, a sore throat or white patches on the gum line. These symptoms are usually temporary and should disappear within a few days of the treatment finishing.

If any of these side effects continue you should go to your dentist.

Risks and Precautions

While tooth whitening is generally safe, there are some risks involved:

Uneven Whitening: Fillings or crowns won’t whiten, which may make them stand out against your newly whitened teeth.

Due to lack of research we also recommend that pregnant patients and mothers that are breastfeeding do not use tooth whitening.

Always consult a dental professional before undergoing any whitening procedures to minimise these risks.

What about whitening toothpastes?

There are several whitening toothpastes on the market. Although they do not affect the natural colour of your teeth, they may be effective at removing staining. Therefore, they may improve the overall appearance of your teeth. Whitening toothpastes may also help the effect to last, once your teeth have been professionally whitened

How can I look after my teeth once they have been whitened?

You can help to keep your teeth white by cutting down on the amount of food and drinks you have that can stain teeth. Don’t forget, stopping smoking can also help prevent discolouration and staining.

We recommend the following tips to take care of your teeth:

  • brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste
  • cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
  • visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend
  • Avoid stain-causing foods and drinks.
  • Use a straw when drinking beverages that can stain.
  • Keep up with regular dental check-ups and cleanings.


Tooth whitening is more than just a cosmetic procedure; it’s a significant investment in yourself. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully to decide if it’s right for you. With numerous options available, from affordable at-home kits to high-end professional treatments, there’s likely a solution that fits your needs and budget.

If you want to improve your smile please call us on 0208 399 4311

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