I have some stains on my teeth and would like to whiten my pearlies. Is it safe?

Whitening is one of the easiest ways to quickly improve your smile. The science behind the whitening process is very interesting. However, there are different ways to do it and each one has its own pros and cons.

Whitening in the dental office is usually the fastest way. It involves applying a protective barrier on the gums followed by a whitening gel consisting of hydrogen peroxide and using a bright light to activate the peroxide. Once the peroxide is broken down, it releases pure oxygen, which binds with the stain-causing molecules that have been lurking on and in your teeth, and brings it to the surface. This causes the natural whiteness of the teeth to shine through. The advantage is this method is usually the fastest. The disadvantage — teeth can get extremely sensitive.

The second way is making impressions in the dental office and fabricating customised bleaching trays. These trays fit the teeth extremely well and keep the whitening gel in contact with the teeth and the saliva out, so the gel gets time to work effectively. The advantage in this method is that it is usually the most effective way of whitening and the sensitivity is much milder. The downside is that it’s relatively slower than in-office whitening.

The third way is making impressions at home with pharmacy-dispensed whitening kits. These trays usually don’t fit the teeth with the accuracy of dentist-dispensed whitening trays and therefore the gels are also usually much milder. Results are relatively mediocre, and sensitivity is also less.

Also read: Is stress ruining your teeth?

Also, a note on whitening toothpastes — they can only remove superficial stains and don’t really change the inherent colour of the teeth. Their only indication is for people who might be heavy smokers and coffee addicts and can use these agents just to buy some time before using something a bit more effective. Don’t expect any drastic changes with these.

Tanveer Ahmed is an implantologist, dental surgeon and medical director at New Ivory Dental and Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.