Your most Googled questions about teeth whitening, answered

30 per cent of Brits are unhappy with their teeth and 27 per cent are considering whitening their teeth, according to the Mintel Dentistry Report. If you’re unsatisfied with the shade of your smile, cosmetic dentistry such as teeth whitening can be a simple and effective solution – but with so many options out there, it can be tricky to know where to start.

To help you sort fact from fiction, we asked Dr Rhona Eskander, an award-winning cosmetic dentist based at Chelsea Dental Clinic, to answer the most frequently asked questions around teeth whitening, according to Google Trends.

Here’s everything you need to know…

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How do dentists whiten teeth?

According to Dr Rhona, the biggest decision patients have to make is whether to choose in-clinic whitening or at-home tooth whitening, both of which achieve proven results.

If you choose in-clinic, Dr Rhona uses Phillips Zoom, a light activated chair side whitening system that uses a special LED light to accelerate whitening by up to 6 shades in 60 minutes.

On the other hand, if you choose at-home whitening, special trays are created to fit snugly over the teeth. Into these the Zoom whitening gel is dotted and the trays are worn either in the day or at night to suit your lifestyle.

How long does teeth whitening take?

It takes two weeks for home whitening and in-clinic takes ninety minutes.

Maximum results are achieved in 7-14 days, however, your teeth will be significantly whiter in as little as three days.

How much is teeth whitening?

Prices range from £350-£800.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Usually a lifetime, but you may need topping up every few months or so.

How can I naturally whiten my teeth?

‘People are obsessed with home methods but there’s no such thing, sadly,’ says Dr Rhona. ‘An electric toothbrush and air floss may help lift stains but will never entirely whiten the teeth.’

Can you whiten teeth when pregnant?

Although no studies have shown that there is risk to the baby, Dr Rhona said she wouldn’t advise it.

Does charcoal whiten teeth?

The market has become saturated with ‘activated charcoal’ toothpastes but Dr Rhona reveals that they do not whiten teeth and instead that ‘the abrasive particles can actually strip away and damage the enamel’.

I have a white spot on my tooth, how can I get rid of it?

There are many reasons for the appearance of white spots on your teeth and Dr Rhona explains that ‘when there’s a disruption to the tooth-development process, white spots can set in on the surface.’ The top reasons she gives for this are:

Fluorosis. This happens when large amounts of fluoride are ingested when teeth are still forming. This usually has a combination of sources: excessive fluoridated water, certain supplements and swallowing fluoride.

Enamel Hypoplasia. The result of either a nutritional deficiency, high fever or medicinal side effects, as well as premature births and prenatal smoking.

Demineralization of tooth enamel which takes place when bacterial plaque is allowed to accumulate on the teeth

Dr Rhona suggests a number of approaches that can help eliminate white spots but the best procedure will depend on the severity of your condition:

Microabrasion. This procedure involves gently removing a thin layer of surface enamel, thereby improving the appearance of your teeth.

Bleaching. Bleach-based tooth whitening can help balance the color of your tooth enamel.

ICON is a white spot removal treatment which doesn’t involve any drilling or removal of a healthy part of tooth. This works by infiltrating the pores of the tooth where the white spot is located via a tooth-coloured resin.

What can I eat after teeth whitening?

The three factors that contribute to darkening your teeth are chromogens, tannins, and acids. These are found in many common foods and can stain the enamel or make it weaker allowing for stains to set in easier.

While it may seem difficult to go without some of the things mentioned below, Dr Rhona suggests remembering that it’s only for 48 hours after treatment; a small, brief sacrifice that will help ensure you have beautiful white teeth for longer.

She recommends avoiding coffee and tea (though you can drink it through a straw), red wine, acidic fizzy drinks and fruit juices, dark condiments such as soy sauce, dark fruits, curry and tobacco.

You can visit Dr Rhona Eskander at the Chelsea Dental Clinic in Chelsea, London.