How to prepare for teeth whitening

The effectiveness of teeth whitening treatments can be greatly enhanced by preparing the teeth prior to treatment. This includes seeking professional dental assistance in cleaning the teeth to remove any debris that may reduce contact with the bleaching gel. Changes to the patient’s diet and oral care routine can also boost effectiveness.

Prepare the teeth – book a dental checkup

Patients who wish to maximise the aesthetic outcome of any teeth whitening procedure should consider booking a dental checkup prior to treatment. The dentist will advise the patient on the potential effectiveness of any proposed teeth whitening procedure. Where the effectiveness could be enhanced, the dentist will offer solutions.

How to maximise teeth whitening results:

  • Prepare the enamel with a professional teeth cleaning session from the dentist

A buildup of tartar and other sediments/deposits on the teeth will block the teeth bleaching products from making contact with the tooth enamel (negatively impacting the effectiveness of the teeth whitening procedure). The dentist can remove this issue by offering a professional teeth cleaning process.

  • Ask the dentist for shade guide advice

The dentist is best placed to assist patients in deciding the optimum teeth whitening process – including giving shade guide advice. This will help the patient to plan the safest route to a desired lighter shade of tooth enamel (i.e. the lightest shade possible without damaging the teeth).

  • Custom trays – reduce gum irritation with personalised trays

The dentist is able to provide patients with custom made trays for use in teeth whitening procedures. Custom trays offer a more effective gel delivery system – the gel is targeted in specific areas while reducing the amount of gel that comes into contact with sensitive parts of the teeth and gums.

Custom trays also offer a better fit and therefore a greater level of comfort. This is recommended for patients with sensitive/damaged gums – where the teeth whitening procedure is supervised by the dentist, irritation to the gums is minimised.

What foods can I eat during teeth whitening?

Before undergoing any teeth whitening procedure, actively seeking to prevent and reduce layers of staining on the teeth can greatly enhance the effectiveness of the bleaching product. This not only means regular brushing with a ‘sensitive’ toothpaste (please see “How to reduce sensitivity before teeth whitening”), but also means taking steps to eat foods less likely to stain the teeth.

Foods to eat before teeth whitening / to reduce staining

  • Fish
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Yoghurt
  • Chicken
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • White bread
  • White cheese

Foods to avoid before teeth whitening include:

  • Curry
  • Red meats
  • Colourful vegetables (e.g. carrots, beetroot)
  • Colourful fruits (e.g. strawberries, blueberries)
  • Tomato based cooking sauces (e.g. bolognese)
  • Tumeric dishes

Ways to reduce staining before whitening the teeth

Brushing and flossing twice per day will help to reduce any staining that may be present on the teeth. This will have a positive effect on the outcome of any teeth whitening procedure. However, there are other ways in which patients can significantly reduce/prevent staining prior to teeth whitening treatment.

Tips to reduce/prevent staining include:

Avoid tea / coffee / red wine – Substituting hot drinks such as tea and coffee for a light herbal tea can reduce staining. Also, swap red wine for clear liquid alcohol such as white wine, gin, and vodka.

Use a straw – Beverages such as fizzy drinks, fruit cordial, and chocolate-milkshake can cause staining. Using a straw can help to minimise contact with the teeth.

Chew gum after meals – Chewing gum helps to stimulate the salivary glands. Saliva naturally cleanses the inside of the mouth, washing away any debris that could otherwise cause staining.

Eat crunchy plain foods– Switching ‘snack’ foods to crunchy plain foods such as wheat cereals, celery, crusty loaf bread, and apples will help to scrub the teeth between meals.

Rinse whenever possible– Sometimes, eating or drinking foods that may stain the teeth is inevitable – make sure to rinse with water as soon as possible, minimising any potential staining.

Acidic food can also cause staining that can be difficult to remove. Prior to any teeth whitening procedure, reduce the risk of staining by avoiding acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits (e.g. lemon, orange), vinegar, grapes, and beer.

How to reduce sensitivity before teeth whitening

Preparing the teeth for any teeth whitening procedure should include preparations for the onset of sensitivity that may last for around 48 hours after treatment. Switching to a sensitive toothpaste can help to achieve a relatively higher tolerance in a short space of time (1-2 weeks). Also, switching to a soft bristled toothbrush can help to reduce sensitivity whilst brushing.

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