Team Brides caught up with Dr Kiki Norman, Principal Dentist at prestigious Edinburgh dental surgery Haymarket Dental, which she owns with her husband, Andrew. We wanted to find out the facts about tooth whitening, from how long it takes to whether it can damage your teeth. Kiki is basically a dental super-whizz, with a keen interest in invisalign, composite bonding, same day crowns, as well as (of course) cosmetic and general dentistry, so, if there's anyone to ask, it's her! Read on to find out how to get white teeth for your wedding day. You certainly won't regret having sparkling smiles in your wedding photos!
Q. How does teeth whitening work? Is there more than one method? Can I do it at home?
A. Tooth whitening is a very safe, non-invasive way of improving the appearance of one’s smile. This can be carried out in a dental surgery using a power whitening system, such as Zoom, or by using custom-made whitening trays with an appropriate whitening gel at home. These trays are very lightweight and thin, and we mould them to the shape of your teeth. You then pop the whitening gel inside and would usually wear it overnight for however many nights your dentist recommends. Tooth whitening usually takes 2-3 weeks to complete once the custom-made trays have been fitted by your dentist. The power whitening system usually also requires whitening at home afterwards using the same custom-made whitening trays.
I don't recommend whitening toothpastes, as they are generally very abrasive. They work by removing surface stains but don't change the actual colour of your teeth. Over time, those abrasive particles will remove the outer white enamel of your teeth. This will result in the more yellow dentine shining through, which, in fact, will only make your teeth look darker.
Q. Can professional tooth whitening damage my teeth?
A. It doesn't damage the teeth, as it only changes the optical properties of them – i.e. they'll look whiter – but none of their physical properties will be affected or altered.
Q. Is it possible someone can mess it up?
A. It's certainly possible that someone can mess it up if they're not a dentist. Sadly, some people purchase whitening gels online that cause permanent damage to your teeth – and I've seen the results of that. It’s not pretty. It's also illegal in the UK for anyone other than a dentist to provide tooth whitening. There are several companies out there who say they're able to provide tooth whitening for clients, though they're not dentists. But it's important to know that it would be very risky to have tooth whitening done by anyone other than a dentist, as they don't have dental training or expertise, and are likely using products that are chlorine based and acidic. These ingredients will damage your teeth.
Q. How white will they look? How long will it last?
A. How white they look is up to you, depending on how many nights you treat them with the gel, and how often you top up. I recommend whitening every night for two weeks. There's no maximum in terms of how many nights you wear your tray and gel, but your teeth will reach a saturation point, where they can't go any whiter.
Once they've been professionally whitened, they won't return to their original colour, but will darken over time. How quickly this happens will depend on your diet and whether you smoke. Topping up the whitening every 12-18 months is usually enough to keep your teeth looking nice and bright.
Q. When should I get my teeth whitened if I want them done for my wedding day?
A. If you were to have your teeth whitened before your wedding, I'd recommend visiting your dentist at least 2-3 months prior to the big day. Any visible fillings, crowns or veneers that you may have will not change colour with tooth whitening, but this can be discussed by you and your dentist. You can allow some extra time to plan to have those changed to match your whiter teeth.
Q. Do I need to care for them in a certain way afterwards?
A. Sometimes patients experience a little sensitivity after whitening their teeth. This usually subsides within 48 hours and can be helped by using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. The whitening gels we use also contain a desensitising agent which helps.
Otherwise, caring for your teeth after whitening is just the same as you would care for your teeth on a daily basis. It is important to brush twice a day and floss daily!
Happy whitening and smile with confidence on your special day!
At-home tooth whitening with Haymarket Dental starts at £295 for upper and lower.
To have your teeth whitened by Kiki or her team in Edinburgh, fill out a contact form online or book an appointment over the telephone.