From the risks of DIY bleaching kits to whether UV lights work, the quest for a brighter grin is a minefield
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.
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.”
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.”
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“
“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,”
See a professional
“Teeth whitening is a complex process and should be carried out by a dentist”
“The most effective way is to use a combination of professional laser in-clinic whitening with top-up trays at home.
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.