Teeth whitening has become the fastest growing cosmetic industry in the UK.
The Association of Cosmetic Teeth Whitening says that, year on year, the business is growing at a rate of more than 10 per cent.
The sight of stars with their teeth glowing has done nothing to lessen their popularity, adds Dr Jonathan Wu, a senior cosmetic dentist from Oasis Dental Care.
‘Most people don’t want to look as white as Simon Cowell,’ he adds. ‘A good dentist will find out how white you’d like your teeth and then check the health of your teeth and gums, so potential problems can be predicted.
‘It’s pointless paying £300 for a treatment and having all your teeth fall out later on. It needs to be done in a healthy mouth.’
Like all cosmetic treatments, he adds, whitening can’t fix everything.
‘A patient should be told that bleaching doesn’t work so well on eroded teeth with less enamel and won’t bleach a filling or a crown,’ says Dr Wu.
Most customers, he adds, tend to opt for the straightforward ‘home method’ of bleaching.
‘I’ll take an impression of the teeth and have a teeth tray made. Then the patient will fill the tray with bleaching gel, fit it over their teeth and wear it up to eight hours per day. After two weeks, we’ll see how closely they’re progressing to their shade.
‘A few people have minor sensitivity to the gel but it’s not that common.’
While the treatment can cost anywhere between £250 and £500, don’t be tempted to cut costs or corners, he suggests.
‘Dentists in the UK follow the letter of the law and also use the products that do. The danger of buying DIY kits on the web is they could come from somewhere else, where you’re not protected by our legislation.
‘Over-the-counter sets you can buy in Britain will always be safe, although the vast majority also won’t be very effective. They’re not allowed to contain any more than 0.1 per cent peroxide, which is basically not enough to do the job well.
‘They also use a generic-sized tray, which could allow the bleaching agent to come into contact with your gums, causing irritation, unlike a custom-made one.’