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envisage Happiness Blog: Smile Makeover

Tell me about whitening systems

Tell me about whitening systems

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Dr Nandini Kapoor in Smile Makeover (clinic: Basingstoke)


Whitening systems have many names (laser whitening/power whitening/Zoom™), but the principle is the same. The dentist/hygienist isolates your gums and lips to protect them. A strong gel is painted on the teeth which whitens them.

There are 3 main disadvantages:

  1. Dehydration: If we were to isolate your teeth in the same way for 30-40 minutes and do nothing else, they would look a lot whiter as they get dehydrated. This means that these systems look great initially, but as the teeth rehydrate the impact quickly disappears. Most 'In Surgery' systems are followed up with a period of home whitening due to this.
  2. Longevity: The gel applied gives quick results but its effects do not last as long as some of the slower methods (e.g. the 'At Home' tray system). This means that when there is a need for a top-up later it that means you have to do the whole thing again (including paying again)!
  3. Gel strength: The gel used is notorious for causing extreme sensitivity in some people, due to its strength. So much so that dentists refer to these episodes as 'zingers'. How many products out there do you know that have resulted in an addition to the English language due to an adverse effect! Recent changes in legislation have meant that most of the effective 'In Surgery' systems are not allowed to be used.

'In Surgery' chair whitening systems leave the teeth dehydrated, which means they look a lot whiter than they really are. The "wow!" factor quickly wears off.

Fact: If your teeth get too white with these systems there's nothing that can be done about it quickly! It's not easily controllable. But wait, did I forget to mention the light? Well no. The light is predominately a marketing gimmick. There is very little evidence that the light does anything. The one benefit of the light is that it can warm the gel, and as any chemistry student knows if you warm something the reaction will occurs faster.

Over The Counter systems

These can be effective but one of the major problems is that the cause of the discolouration has not been diagnosed. So in many cases they are inappropriately used.

Our dental team at envisage in Basingstoke offers tooth whitening and has a wealth of experience in different systems. Our team have carried out post-graduate training in tooth whitening to ensure we can offer care which puts your health and well-being at the core of everything we do. Being a Gold Member of the British Dental Bleaching Society has helped me ensure that all those at my practice are providing treatment to high standards and treatment that the profession would consider to be best practice.

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