Teeth staining can be caused by elements of our diet, such as tea, coffee and red wine, as well as by smoking.
The build-up of tartar can also contribute to the discoloration of your teeth.
There are many products and procedures available that whiten your teeth, varying in cost and effectiveness, including laser-whitening treatments, professional home whitening kits and whitening toothpastes.
Cosmetic dental clinics usually offer a choice of in-surgery laser teeth whitening and professional whitening kits that you can take home.
Dentists will ensure that your teeth are suitable for whitening treatments during an initial consultation.
Laser teeth whitening
This is the most immediately effective and expensive option. Some clinics boast that teeth could be up to 10 shades whiter in 3 or 4 10-minute applications.
Prices vary from clinic to clinic and patient to patient, but top clinics can charge as much as £950 for the complete service, including all initial consultations, the treatment itself and aftercare.
How does it work?
A protective shield is put in your mouth to protect your lips and gums, teeth are painted with a bleaching product and then a laser is shone on the teeth that activates the bleaching product.
The bleaching process removes stains and discoloration from the inner and outer layers of your teeth and the effects can last for two or three years.
This treatment is cheaper than laser whitening and has more permanent results over a longer period of time.
Although you do most of the work yourself at home, this course of treatment should only be carried out under the strict supervision of your dentist.
How does it work?
Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and give you a custom-made mouthguard to take home with you. You then continue the treatment at home for 2-4 weeks, applying the bleaching agent to your teeth for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.
You must ensure that your lips and gums are isolated to prevent tissue damage. The higher the concentration of peroxide in the solution, the greater the risk is that your lips and gums may be damaged.
Are there any side effects?
Many people can suffer sensitivity during and after the initial treatment and can experience sharp shooting pains coming from their teeth.
This should subside after 48 hours and you should avoid eating very hot or very cold foods during this time. Your dentist can give you a special gel to help soothe your teeth.
This is by far the cheapest and easiest way to whiten your teeth, but do they actually work?
Whitening toothpastes don’t actually bleach your teeth.
They contain mild abrasives and polishing agents that help to remove surface stains, but unlike professional whitening treatments, they don’t remove stains from the inner layer of your teeth.
It takes much longer to see the effects compared to professional treatments, but whitening toothpastes can have effective results over a longer period of time.