The global teeth whitening products market is expected to reach $7.40 billion by 2024, according to Reportlinker, but despite its continually growing popularity, teeth whitening as a cosmetic procedure is surrounded by myths.
The internet (and social media particularly) is full of celebrities endorsing charcoal toothpaste, whitening pens and UV gel/light kits. Although the reality is that many of these celebrities have already had their teeth cosmetically enhanced, and the products they’re promoting can’t guarantee you the perfect smile you dream of.
Here, we’ll give everything you need to make an informed decision about teeth whitening, by exploring the potential dangers and reviewing the most popular methods.
Teeth discolouration is, simply, a part of life. Smoking, drinking tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, red wine and eating curries are often blamed for discolouring teeth. However, as we get older, it’s natural for teeth to become more yellow and often duller.
Although whitening toothpaste might go some way towards removing stains from your teeth, it unfortunately won’t change the natural colour of them - so brushing teeth regularly and thoroughly isn’t the be-all and end-all to having a picture-perfect smile.
As such, more people are turning to teeth whitening procedures to enhance their smile.
When carried out by a qualified dental professional, teeth whitening is perfectly safe. It’s illegal for anyone other than dentists or their teams to carry out the procedure, so be wary of beauty salons or other similar businesses offering teeth whitening deals - it’s likely that the technician isn’t properly trained in approved methods of whitening.
If carried out safely and effectively, there are usually no nasty side effects of teeth whitening. If not, or if overdone, you may experience pain and sensitivity in your teeth and/or gums. Speak to your dentist if you have any concerns before, during or after treatment.
It’s difficult to know what chemicals are in at-home whitening products, meaning it’s hard to assess their safety. Plus, there’s very little medical research to back up the effectiveness of them. Late last year, numerous dentists spoke out about the potential damage such kits can cause, including BUPA Dental’s Clinical Director, Dr Eddie Coyle - so it’s best to steer clear.
There are - but they may only make a small difference and could potentially damage your teeth. For example, brushing with lemon juice and/or baking soda will erode your enamel over time. A method such as oil pulling (swilling your mouth with coconut, sesame or sunflower oil) is unlikely to cause any damage, but the results are likely to be minimal.
Both bleach and laser whitening methods get results, but your decision will most likely depend on what is available at your dentist surgery, as the majority only administer one option.
External bleaching is the most common method. With this, your dentist makes rubber mouth trays that fit your teeth that you’ll use to apply the bleach solution. Your dentist will give you instructions on how to do this at home.
Laser whitening is carried out at the dentist practice where a gel is applied to your teeth, which reacts with a laser to speed up the process. It’s likely you’ll need multiple sessions before your teeth reached the desired whiteness.
If you’re seriously considering teeth whitening, or any form of cosmetic dentistry, the most important thing is that you consult a qualified dental professional, who will advise you on the safest and most effective methods to suit you.