Choose whitening with care

Q. What is the best way to get my teeth whitened?

A. Having white teeth can add something valuable to your appearance. Other people react positively to a bright smile and as a result, your confidence grows. Teeth whitening techniques enhance that effect, but it’ s worth bearing in mind that only a few of them are worth your attention. Wine, tobacco and coffee cause surface stains which can usually be removed with a simple toothbrush and toothpaste. Unfortunately, the deeper layer under the hard enamel can also soak up these chemical agents, and those intrinsic stains are much harder to eradicate.

The answer is peroxide bleaching agents, most commonly hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, with the latter turning into the former almost immediately upon application. Once applied by a dentist, the hydrogen peroxide breaks up the chromogens into smaller molecules that aren’t as coloured, more diffuse. It’ s the quickest way of getting rid of those hard-to-remove stains even if you use products that contain hydrogen peroxide.

The bleaching agent used by your dentist contains a higher concentration to improve its effect. Another alternative is laser whitening, which is a relatively short treatment — about 30 to 60 minutes — and very effective. The dentist applies gel to your teeth, directly on the enamel. That whitening agent is designed to react with the surface of the teeth, including its deepest layers. The activation happens with the help of a UV light. This is completely painless and easy to use and the results can last up to three years , depending on additional factors like lifestyle and oral hygiene.

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