WHETHER you’re inspired by the gleaming gnashers on Love Island or in Hollywood movies, we’ve all wondered whether our pearly whites could be a bit, well, whiter.
From the DIY kits on the shelves of your local supermarket to the weird and wonderful glow-in-your-gob UV contraptions advertised on Instagram, there have never been more options for whitening your teeth.
The global teeth whitening market is expected to reach an astonishing £5.7billion by 2024, and it’s becoming as normal to get your teeth done as it is to get a manicure.
A whopping 40% of Brits say they are unhappy with their teeth, with nearly half planning to undergo cosmetic dental work – and whitening is at the top of the list.
But if you thought the worst that could happen was a Ross from Friends radioactive glow, think again.
A study published last month found that at-home whitening kits can actually damage teeth, leaving them weaker and more sensitive, with calls from some dental experts for them to be banned.
“Products available on the high street do not contain high enough levels of active ingredient hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to have any real effect on tooth colour,” explains celebrity cosmetic dentist Dr Rhona Eskander.
“Not only that, but they can be abrasive and dangerous, causing permanent damage to your enamel or even burning your gumsor tongue.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way – here are our top tips for getting and keeping whiter teeth…
1 — Chat to your dentist
“There are many different reasons why your teeth might be discoloured, from tooth decay to genetics to receding gums exposing the dentine, which looks yellowish,” explains Rhona.
“So before you even think about using any kind of whitener, see your dentist so that you can treat any underlying issues. You might also find that the staining caused by tea, coffee, red wine or smoking can be removed by a session with the hygienist.”
2 — Don’t fall for fads
Charcoal is the in thing when it comes to whitening right now.
“While it can be abrasive, which means it will remove stains, it will also destroy tooth enamel if you scrub too hard,” says Rhona.
“Beneath the enamel is dentine, which is darker so you might make your teeth look yellow. Another so-called whitening secret weapon, coconut oil, may dislodge food particles, but it won’t whiten your teeth.”
And the UV lights you’ve seen on Insta?
“Those are meant to activate the peroxide, but there’s no proof that they make any difference,” she adds.
3 — Go pro
“Teeth whitening is a complex process and should be carried out by a dentist,” explains Rhona.
“The most effective way is to use a combination of professional laser in-clinic whitening with top-up trays at home.
Teeth whitening is a complex process and should be carried out by a dentist[/caption]
This means you are able to whiten the inside of the tooth and the tooth surface for long-lasting results that are much more evenly spread along each tooth.
“In an over-the-counter kit, the generic trays won’t fit properly and you could swallow chemicals, burn your mouth or tongue or cause gum shrinkage.”
A 2010 investigation by Which? found that 1 in 10 people reported white spots on their gums or lips after using a whitening product, suggesting they had suffered chemical burns.
A similar number had brown stains on their teeth, an indication of damage to the enamel.
4 — Be consistent
“For best results, whiten your teeth using a kit from your dentist at home every day for a week, not one day and then a break,” says Rhona.
“It’s a chemical reaction that’s happening on the teeth, so once that’s heightened you want to keep it going. However, it is important not to put too much gel in the trays and to wipe any excess away from the gums as it will irritate them if not removed.
“Warm salt water mouth rinses are recommended if you experience sore gums. Use a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water three to four times daily,” she adds.
A study published last month found that at-home whitening kits can actually damage teeth[/caption]
5 — Pick your paste
“During the whitening period your teeth will be more sensitive, so before and after, use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth to alleviate these symptoms,” says Rhona.
But don’t use a whitening toothpaste.
“These often have abrasive particles in them, which could damage your teeth.”
6 — Pale-o diet
“While whitening teeth – and for 48 hours after – you should eat white foods as this is when the pores of the teeth are most open,” says celebrity dentist Richard Marques.
“Options include chicken, rice, fish, chickpeas and cauliflower. You can also eat beige food such as bread and potatoes. Smoothies or juices should be drunk through a straw.
“White wine or clear spirits are fine and milky tea and coffee can be drunk, but avoid red wine, smoking and takeaways with food colourings.
“Once the whitening is completed you can return to a normal diet, but smoking should still be avoided.”
7 — Fake news
“If you have crowns, veneers, implants or fillings, they will be immune to the whitening process,” says Richard.
“Your dentist should always forewarn you about this, and may advise that you change them to match your new shade.”
If you have crowns, veneers, implants or fillings, they will be immune to the whitening process[/caption]
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8 — Stay bright
“Even with professionally whitened teeth, the results will only be temporary – up to five years. As your enamel wears down over time, the yellow dentine beneath becomes more visible,” says Rhona.
“Good oral care will go a long way to prevent discolouring. Brushing and flossing regularly, visiting your dentist every six months for check-ups and seeing a hygienist means you can stay on top of it.”
Hollywood, here we come!
The gleam team
How do TV stars’ teeth shine so bright?
From pop stars to newsreaders, it seems no famous face is complete without perfect white gnashers.
But whiter teeth requires commitment – and serious cash.
Many celebs have porcelain dental veneers placed on top of their existing teeth, which starts at around £500 per tooth. These last up to 15 years (unless they fall off) before they must be replaced.
On the cheaper end of the scale, professional whitening – where hydrogen peroxide bleaching gel is painted on to each tooth – can result in a smile becoming six shades brighter and costs £1,000-£2,000.
- Sources: ReportLinker, Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, British Dental Journal
- For more information visit Drrhonaeskander.com