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Teeth whitening before your wedding: everything you need to know

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Wanting a whiter smile for your big day? Read this first!

Whether you want to invest in a whole bridal beauty routine, or just a few little pamper opportunities, teeth whitening is something most brides will think about at some point in the run-up to the wedding.

I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my beauty routine and, having sensitive rosacea-prone skin, I didn’t want to go too wild with facials and tanning. But I did want to feel confident in my smile on what should be the happiest, smiliest day of my life – and one that will be documented in professional photos forever.

The goal? To not feel the instinct to reach for a ‘whiten teeth’ photo editing tool, without going Ross Gellar white.

Should I get teeth whitening before my wedding?

Ultimately, it’s up to you and what makes you feel most confident. It also might depend on how stained your teeth are. Despite never smoking, my three drinks of choice are very strong black tea, black coffee, and red wine. Add in the fact I’m not exactly militant with flossing, and my teeth were not only stained, but developing a bit of a plaque build-up.

This was the state of my teeth. It’s grim. I can only apologise.

My advice? Before you do anything, go to your dentist for a check-up. If you think you might want any more comprehensive dental work done (Invisalign, fillings, etc), you’ll want to do this as far ahead of your big day as possible. Even if you don’t want any major work done, it’s important to check your teeth are in good health and to let them know you’re considering whitening.

You’ll then want to make sure you book in a clean with a dental hygienist. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the work a dental hygienist can do is pretty mind-blowing. Not only will you improve your oral health, but with a considerable amount of plaque and staining removed, you may actually decide whitening isn’t as necessary, or that you’re happy to scale back to a milder at-home treatment.

“A hygienist appointment can instantly brighten your smile,” explains Dr Sam Jethwa, award-winning dentist and President Elect at The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “It will remove any staining on the teeth, something which brushing alone cannot achieve.” He’s not wrong. This was how much better my teeth looked, after just a clean.

Secondly, if you do decide to go ahead with any kind of teeth whitening, it’s far better to be applying whitening treatments to clean teeth, so that it can treat the tooth, rather than any plaque sitting on the tooth. This will give you the best and most even results.

Which teeth whitening is the best?

If the staining isn’t too major, you may find an at-home treatment is the best route. You can see our guide to the best at-home teeth-whitening treatments here. I felt that I wanted a slightly more dramatic change than at-home whitening could likely deliver, so I decided to go the professional route via a dentist (purchasing some teeth whitening strips to easily top-up on the wedding morning if I wanted to).

“If you are looking to see a real difference in the colour of your teeth and are looking for a more permanent solution, then I would recommend seeking advice from your dentist,” says Dr Jethwa. “Home whitening provided by your dentist is one of the most effective methods, and provides really great results.”

I went to the experts at Bespoke Smile. Having gone for a cheap laser whitening deal in the past that left my teeth painfully sensitive, I wanted to ensure my treatment was dentist-approved this time and that I had a reliable source for my questions.

How long before my wedding should I start teeth whitening?

I had my first appointment about six weeks before my wedding. In this, I had a full check-up to ensure everything was okay, and then talked about teeth whitening options. Bespoke Smile use Philips Zoom at-home whitening trays – “I personally think [trays are] the most effective method of whitening,” says Dr Jethwa, “and you can stop as soon as you reach the desired shade.” So, the next step was to get my moulds done.

The clinic do this twice using two different methods, to ensure the best possible fit for the trays, and therefore the best result. Firstly the ‘classic’ method of biting into putty-filled moulds that dry around your teeth, and then using a clever 3D imaging tool. “The trays are a very important part of this process and the quality of the fitting can affect the result hugely,” explains Dr Jethwa. “The trays can then also be used in future for you to top up your whitening, if you need to.”

The moulds then take 1-2 weeks to get produced, so it was in that gap while I waited (about 5 weeks before my wedding) that I had a proper dental hygienist clean to remove the bulk of the plaque and stains that sat on my teeth.

Four weeks before my wedding, I then went back to collect my trays and start treatment. You can see a change within a few days, but it’s usually recommended to do the treatment over two weeks for the best results. So I decided to start this with a bit of time to spare, knowing I could then top it up closer to the day.

How does it work?

When I went to collect my trays, I was given two options. A gel I could leave in overnight while I slept for up to 8 hours, or a ‘day and night’ version. This would involve wearing the trays for half an hour in the morning, and half an hour in the evening before bed. If you live a busy life the overnight trays may be better, but as a light sleeper, I decided the 30-minute version was better for me personally. You’ll then get your trays and a storage case, and a few syringes of whitening gel. The whitening gel contains hydrogen peroxide which is absorbed by the tooth, where it breaks down the stains from the inside out.

You need to floss and brush your teeth and let them dry slightly before wearing the trays. You then use the syringe of whitening gel to pipe a small blob into the mould of each tooth. This should be no bigger than a grain of rice (you’ll just get overspill out of the mould otherwise and waste the gel). If you want to make your gel last longer, focus on the visible teeth – don’t worry about whitening the back teeth.

In my case, I did this in the morning after I’d had my breakfast while I had my morning shower and got ready. And in the evening after I’d finished eating and drinking, half an hour before bed.

Does tooth whitening cause sensitivity?

I was majorly worried about this after my past experience. If you’ve got similar concerns:

  • For 1-2 weeks beforehand, brush your teeth twice a day with Sensodyne toothpaste and don’t rinse your mouth out after.
  • If you experience sensitivity during treatment, alternate the days you use the whitening gels. Every other day, fill the trays with Sensodyne instead, and wear this.
  • Consider investing in proper teeth whitening via your dentist so that you can ensure the quality of the whitening treatment. Some over-the-counter whitening treatments have lower doses of hydrogen peroxide (the whitening agent) and instead contain things like citric acid and bicarbonate soda, which can damage your teeth.
  • Ask your dentist about Philips Zoom! They contain a desensitizer called ACP which is touted as minimising sensitivity without compromising on the result.

I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t experience any sensitivity at all by employing the above tactics, having previously suffered with major tooth sensitivity.

What can I eat and drink after tooth whitening?

“For around 24 to 72 hours after any whitening treatment, your teeth are more susceptible to discolouration,” advises Dr Jethwa. “Anything that contains high levels of pigmentation, such as coffee, should be avoided during this period.”

The main things to avoid are red wine, black tea and coffee, and strong-coloured spices you might find in curries. If you must have your tea, coffee and wine, consider drinking through a straw. I was reassured by the team at Bespoke Smile that things like beef stock, tomato, and colourful fruit and veg are absolutely fine with this treatment.

What results can I expect from teeth whitening?

It will vary massively from person-to-person, but professional dental whitening definitely gives the most dramatic results in the shortest time. And, in my experience, you’ll be left with plenty of whitening syringes to re-use your trays in the future.

The key is then in the maintenance – invest in an electric toothbrush and brush twice a day with Sensodyne Gentle Whitening, floss daily, lightly swill/rinse your mouth with water after you eat or drink any stain-causing things, and visit your dentist every 6 months or so for a check-up and professional clean. And, of course, at-home products are great for topping up.

Source: Cosmopolitan

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