A hygienist's top tips for a whiter and brighter smile

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Hygienist Samuel McHale reveals his advice for a whiter, brighter smile.

It is becoming more and more common for people to be concerned about the colour of shade of their teeth. Remember – whiter teeth do not necessarily mean healthier teeth. Most people would like whiter teeth – not celebrity veneer white – but maybe a few shades brighter. 

Any over the counter whitening products tend to be peroxide free. Unfortunately, they only work on a temporary basis by dehydrating the enamel. 

If we want to professionally whiten the teeth it is similar if we were to bleach our hair it had to be peroxide based. The levels of peroxide prescribed by a dentist are safe on the enamel and surrounding structures. 

There may be some side effects while whitening such as sensitivity (which is reversible and goes away once the treatment is completed) and gum irritation (avoided by not overfilling the whitening trays).

The procedure of professional whitening is to have impressions or a scan of the teeth by a dental professional, then using custom-made bespoke whitening trays, adding peroxide gel, overnight or during the day, for around two to three weeks. 

How can I keep my teeth white?

My top five tips for keeping teeth white: 

  1. See your dentist and hygienist regularly, you may have plaque or extrinsic stains present, which need to be professionally cleaned away
  2. Do not smoke – it causes teeth to stain and increases the risk of gum disease
  3. Limit staining foods and drinks like tea, coffee and red wine – I’m not saying give them up completely but do we need to have that fifth cup today?
  4. Brush twice daily for two minutes using an Oral-B round head oscillate/rotate electric toothbrush and clean in-between your teeth with either floss or interdental brushes daily
  5. Use a whitening toothpaste (occasionally!) – a whitening toothpaste won’t whiten or change the shade of teeth, however they are more abrasive to help lift surface stains. It is important to not brush too hard when using a whitening toothpaste so I recommend a tooth brush with a pressure sensor to avoid this. I personally use a whitening toothpaste a couple of times per week just to keep any stains at bay – not every time I brush. Remember the most important ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride.

Samuel McHale is a dental hygienist based in Leeds.

You can follow him on Instagram here.

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